2019 Annual Concours d’Elegance

The Biltmore Hotel hosts the Mercedes-Benz Club of America South Florida Section’s 7th Annual Concours d’ Elegance

On Sunday, January 13, the iconic Biltmore Hotel, nestled in the heart of Coral Gables, hosted the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Florida’s 7th Annual Concours d’Elegance, an exclusive event, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables and Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay. The event showcased over 70 of the club’s most collectable Mercedes cars ranging from vintage beauties to the latest models. Trophies were awarded for the best presented cars.

“We are thrilled to have served as hosts of this year’s Mercedes-Benz Club of South Florida Concours d’Elegance. Mercedes-Benz is renowned as one of the premier automobile brands, so it is only fitting that they chose to showcase the local club’s finest vehicles at The Biltmore Hotel,” said Philippe Parodi, Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the Biltmore Hotel.

Listed below are among remarkable cars that were awarded (a full list of winners are available upon request):

Class 1 – AMG & CLS

  • 1st place: 2011 C197 entered by Jerry Aguirre

Class 2 – SL 1957-1976

  • 1st place: 1970 280 SL W113 entered by Bruce and Sheri Rubin

Class 2.5 – Modified

  • 1st place: 1967 250S W108 entered by Hedi Enghelberg

Class 3 – SL 1977-1989

  • 1st place: 1986 560 SL R107 entered by Stephen Greco

Class 4 – SL & SLK 1990-2019

  • 1st place: 1999 500 SL R129 entered by Henry Ovares

Class 5 – Coupes, Cabs & Sedans 1958-1972

  • 1st place: 1971 280 SE W108 entered by Richard Hoppe

Class 6 – Coupes, Cabs & Sedans 1973-1991

  • 1st place: 1991 420 SEL entered by Robert Paulsen

Class 7 – Coupes, Cabs & Sedans 1992-2019

  • 1st place: 2003 32 SLK entered by Sherry (Michael) Werner

People’s Choice

  • 1971 280 SE W018 entered by Richard Hoppe

Best of Show

  • 1958 Adenauer entered by Guy Lewis“We enjoy so much our affiliation with the Mercedes-Benz Club of America,” said Greg Barnes, president of Bill Ussery Motors, parent company of Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables and Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay.  “This organization provides many the opportunity to see Mercedes-Benz classics that are both beautiful and technological marvels of their time. As a dealer, we enjoy celebrating the past while bringing to today’s market the newest and most remarkable offerings that Mercedes-Benz has to offer. We applaud and join MBCA in a shared commitment to this wonderful brand and we look forward to our continued partnership. We also thank Biltmore Hotel for providing the most perfect possible venue for the show.”

Aside from the outstanding array of vehicles on display, guests also enjoyed a cash bar and The Biltmore’s renowned brunch.

For more information on The Biltmore Hotel, please visit www.BiltmoreHotel.com or call 800.727.1926. For more information on the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Florida, please visit www.southflorida.mbca.org.


Bill Ussery Motors President, Greg Barnes, is interviewed by Automotive News

What is going on in the car business, particularly in the world of Mercedes-Benz?

Did you know?  Our Bill Ussery Motors’ president, Greg Barnes, is the Chairman of the Mercedes-Benz USA Dealer Board.  This means he is at the helm of the brand nationwide from the dealers’ perspective and is in constant communication with MBUSA, Mercedes-Benz Financial, and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, based in Germany.

Because of this role, he was recently interviewed by reporter Urvaksh Karkaria from Automotive News to get his perspective on what is happening in the automotive industry, specifically as it relates to Mercedes-Benz.

Here is a copy of the interview.

January 2019

Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board Chairman Greg Barnes is “cautiously, yet enthusiastically, optimistic” about 2019. The mixed emotions are fanned by offsetting factors.

Rising interest rates, a slowing economy and pricey investment toward electric vehicles move will put pressure on sales and dealer profitability. 

“The competition from other luxury brands is a definite headwind,” said Barnes, president of Bill Ussery Motors Group in Coral Gables, Fla., which operates two South Florida Mercedes stores. “Without a doubt, the entire luxury car market is going to be challenged by an increase in interest rates.”

“We are seeing a lot of consumer demand shift between passenger cars and SUV,” Barnes said. “The fact that we are coming with all the updated and new SUVs in a growing segment, bodes well for us.”

To shore up profitability in the new year, Mercedes dealers hope to lean on pre-owned sales and initiatives to grow the parts and service business, Barnes, 57, told Staff Reporter Urvaksh Karkaria.

A Q&A with Greg Barnes:

What’s your outlook for next year?

The competition from other luxury brands is a definite headwind. We’ve got make sure that we are staying competitive. We’ve got to keep our product fresh.

2019 has been deemed the “Year of the SUV.” This is great news for Mercedes-Benz since we’ve got remarkable new product in our SUV line-up on the horizon. Mercedes-Benz recently launched the all-new 2019 G-Class, so we will have a full year of sales in 2019. Dealerships currently have a long waiting list for this model, so most are sold even before they arrive.

What are the top issues on the dealer board’s agenda in 2019? 

Dealer profitability is, and will always be, a priority. To compete in the top luxury area, we’ve got to invest in our people and our facilities. That requires a fair profit. There’s probably a little bit more pressure with the flattening of sales over the past couple of years. Rising costs relative to interest rates obviously puts some pressure on profitability. With electrification coming, we are going to have to think about what that looks like for different [dealers] in terms of future investment. 

New-car margins are getting squeezed throughout the industry. What are Mercedes dealerships doing to help profitability and reduce expenses?

There is a big emphasis on pre-owned. Additionally, Mercedes-Benz USA and the dealer network are working to significantly grow service and parts, where we see additional opportunity. Of course, reducing expenses is a continuous process and we are working together to identify opportunities.

How are declining new-vehicle sales affecting dealerships’ profitability?

There is certainly a negative impact. However, we are offsetting some of this with the increased pre-owned business. And, the service and parts business has been very strong this year with some nice year-over-year growth. 

How are rising interest rates affecting Mercedes dealerships?

Vehicle payments are going to be higher than they were two or three years ago. People will step down a model. That’s why it’s important to have a more affordable model, like the A-class. 

Is vehicle affordability a concern for Mercedes dealers? What is the company doing to address any concerns?

That is a concern for all manufacturers, particularly luxury brands, in an environment of rising rates. We are eagerly anticipating the launch of the A-Class this year and the GLB later in the year. These two models will add a couple of more products at the entry-level to the Mercedes-Benz line-up.

Are production and inventory levels in line with demand?

Overall inventory levels are good. There are always issues with specific models, either a few too many or in some cases, too few. We are certainly low on the G class and a little light on the S class. We have the new GLE coming next summer. That model, as it’s going out, has still got very nice demand and it’s going to be tight as we get into spring. 

What were your big-selling models in the past few months?

The GLC has been hugely popular, and it’s expected we will continue to sell more of the GLC than any other model in our lineup. It’s a great product at the right time, in terms of this whole demand for SUVs. It’s priced right. We’ve got a coupe version we can’t keep on the shelf.

How important is the A-class subcompact sedan  for Mercedes in the U.S.

The A class will be hugely important. While it’s a great vehicle for the entry-level luxury buyer, it’s also a staple for our existing client base who want to continue to drive a smaller sedan. These clients, many of whom will be former C-class drivers, desire a luxury ride and amenities, but aren’t looking to transition to the next generation C class that is larger in size and price. We also think the A-Class provides a great opportunity for conquest.

Are there too many models to support? 

Our diverse product line-up is one of our greatest strengths. We have something for everyone and it drives traffic. Often, a customer visits a Mercedes-Benz dealership thinking they want one particular model, but, once there, they decide on something else once they see the other product offerings. 

Mercedes parent Daimler is betting big on EVs —  anticipating between 15 percent-to-25 percent of its global sales to be EVs in 2025. Do you see adequate consumer demand for electric vehicles? 

While our sales staff receives numerous inquiries about electric vehicles, it seems that the large majority of people are asking from a curiosity standpoint. 

#UsseryVisits Coral Castle

#usseryvisits Coral Castle

We love going places!  As such, we are kicking off a series called #usseryvisits.  We will be visiting, in a fabulous #mercedesbenz of course, interesting and unique places around South Florida. You will get to see cool photos while learning about the  destination. There is so much out there, so we are excited you will be joining us on this adventure.  We will be posting to @mercedesbenzcg and @mercecedesbenzcb – sometimes to just one and sometimes to both.  So, to see them all, please follow both.  We can’t wait to see your comments.

Coral Castle, referred to by some as America’s Stonehenge, Coral Castle is a sculpture garden of limestone in south Miami-Dade built by one man, Edward Leedskalnin. From 1923 to 1951, Ed single-handedly and secretly carved (without machinery) over 1,100 tons of coral rock, and his unknown process has created one of the world’s most mysterious accomplishments. Did you know that Ed was 5 feet tall and weighed just 100 pounds?  No one quite knows how he pulled this off. The story goes that Ed built this beautiful stone garden for his love, Agnes. The story also goes is that the love was unrequited and she never saw the castle.

Please consider visiting the castle and learning more about Ed!  Both the story and structure are amazing.  For more information, visit www.coralcastle.com.

Of course, after your visit, you will be very hungry.  We suggest stopping in at Shivers bbq for the best barbecue this side of Pinecrest!

Stay tuned for our next Ussery Visits or follow-us on Intagram to follow our journey when we visit more interesting places around South Florida in a Fabulous Mercedes-Benz!