What do Sylvester Stallone, Tom Brady, Bruce Springsteen, and Denzel Washington have in common?
They are A-listers who have achieved meteoric levels of success as a Hollywood movie icon/actor, football quarterback, rock and roll musician, and another Hollywood movie icon/actor, respectively. On top of that, they are clients of luxury vehicle customization specialist Becker Automotive Design.
The company has been producing specialized VIP luxury transports since 1996. They are approved by Daimler – and in cooperation with General Motors and Lincoln. Becker Automotive Design leads the industry in transforming Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans and full-sized SUVs into some of the most productive, comfortable, safe, and exclusive vehicles on the planet.
The company’s family of GM SUVs include the Chevrolet Suburban, the GMC Yukon XL, and the Cadillac Escalade ESV.
Just this week, they announced that the 2019 Cadillac Escalade ESV they built for Sylvester Stallone was being sold by the actor for $350,000 (original cost $409k, only 1,000 miles).
“My Becker ESV was ordered for a specific purpose, however my requirement for it has recently changed. I no longer have a need for this beautiful vehicle,” Stallone says. “I enjoyed personally designing the luxurious interior with Howard Becker. The on-board electronics and ride quality are second to none.”
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Sylvester Stallone next to his Becker Cadillac Escalade ESV
Vehicle shipments worldwide
Becker also has a client list that includes business leaders, celebrities, and dignitaries, and the company has shipped its vehicles to over 25 countries – including Canada – on five continents.
In the Toronto area, Ash Singh, founder and president of real estate redevelopment company Equity Builders, has a customized Becker Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan. Howard Becker, founder and chief executive officer of Becker Automotive Design in Oxnard, California, notes that Singh and his wife – both avid cyclists – use the vehicle for work and for recreation.
Canada, especially Toronto, has been an important international market for his company.
Regarding Luxury recently caught up with Becker, who took the time to answer some questions about what the company’s deep-pocketed clients are looking for. He also talked about what the greatest-ever football quarterback wanted in a customized productivity centre and people mover, and more.
The pursuit of excellence … on wheels
Regarding Luxury: What sorts of things are your customers looking for in their customized vehicles?
Becker: The person who buys the vehicle, no matter what walk of life they’re from, usually … wants to be in an environment that’s private and that allows them to work. What we really call that is productivity. And we call it productivity because not only can you work – and the high-speed Internet, the tables, and the very comfortable seats really augment that – but you can work uninterrupted. Get work done in a way you never could in a normal luxury sedan even if you’re being driven as opposed to driving it yourself.
Furthermore, the ability to have private conversations is a very productive thing. You can have meetings back there with other people and use your commute time to be productive. Watch information shows like Bloomberg or Fox or whatever you’ve got as news and business programs in Canada.
Downtime no longer a waste of time
Regarding Luxury: So your customers are looking to make the most of what might otherwise be seen as unproductive downtime?
Becker: Their time is so valuable in terms of what it produces. That’s the No. 1 motive of our customers. We make our vehicles a certain way to augment that. So they’re very quiet. The vehicles have very good air conditioning and heating and air filtration systems. They seats are unbelievably comfortable, allowing you to recline.
They have electric leg rests that allow you to take stress off of your body. That hopefully in turn takes the stress off your mind. They’re great for power naps. A 20-minute power nap is a big deal to some of these people. When you add that up, they get out of the vehicle more refreshed and better off than when they got in.
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Tom Brady’s Becker Cadillac Escalade ESV that just sold for $300k
A customized vehicle fit for the Brady Bunch
Regarding Luxury: As well as Sylvester Stallone, another one of the famous people on your client list is Tom Brady. What was he looking for in a customized vehicle?
Becker: The reason he bought it [a customized Becker Cadillac Escalade ESV, video below] is that he was staying in Boston and commuting to the stadium. That is about a 45-minute commute. And so he wanted to work his playbook, work on his personal affairs, his other interests, and rest…while he was going to and from. He has three kids and his wife and himself.
He said, “I want the seating to be able to handle my whole family when we all want to go out together on occasion.” It originally cost about $350,000. When he moved to Tampa, not only was the silver vehicle the wrong colour, but he rented a big mansion that’s less than 15 minutes away from the workout area. So there’s no reason to be driven in a limousine. And so he gave it up.
Imitation the best form of flattery?
There have been quite a few copycats over the years, says Becker. And if you only go by the pictures, you might be tempted to think that the copycats look more or less like the vehicles his company has worked on. But pictures only tell part of the story, he adds. There’s a reason his company’s customized vehicles cost more than what the copycats sell theirs for.
“There are people who do things that may, from the surface, look similar,” stresses Becker. “But if you go deeper into the quality of the builds, there’s a big difference. Those less expensive versions might be apropos for a lot of people – hotel transports, recreational vehicles, moving mid-level executives around – things like that. But when you’re talking about the movers and shakers that we deal with, only the best will do.”