Toyota is top car in swanky Aspen |

Toyota is top car in swanky Aspen

Joel StoningtonVail, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/Aspen Times WeeklyA Ferrari parked on Main Street in Aspen. The slick car is less popular than are Toyotas in the resort.

ASPEN Its not unusual to see a Ferrari or a Porsche cruising Aspens streets, but though there are likely more expensive cars here than in most counties, the most popular make of personal automobile is a Toyota.In fact, you could add up every registered Audi, Jaguar, BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Porsche and Ferrari in Pitkin County, and the total would still not equal the number of registered Toyotas.When asked, however, people seem to mention fancy cars in Aspen just as they would mention fancy houses. Perhaps thats why fancy is often referred to as flashy people notice.

Sure, theres something interesting about a car worth $561,000 the most valuable car registered in the county, a Ferrari but the 21 Ferraris registered here are nowhere near representative of the county as a whole, where the average vehicle is worth $25,105.And do tree-hugging Aspenites love cars as much as the rest of America? They love cars quite a lot more.According to the Federal Highway Commissions 2006 statistics, there is one automobile for every five people, in Colorado and nationally. In Pitkin County, there are 1.2 vehicles per person, and that does not even include the commercial automobiles that national statistics take into account.There are enough cars registered in Pitkin County 18,039 to account for 1 percent of the total in the state while the population 14,872 is only one-third of 1 percent. Thats six times more vehicles per capita than the state average.And, of course, cars are big business in Pitkin County, with a current total taxable value of $452.8 million.Volume has increased, said Steve Zeder, general manager of Bighorn Toyota, in Glenwood Springs. Were selling more vehicles than we did three years ago and six years ago and so on.Zeder was not surprised to hear Toyota is the most popular make in Pitkin County. He said the diverse line of products may lead to the higher sales. Toyotas come in all shapes and sizes, and a new vehicle can be driven off the lot for anywhere from $12,000 for a Yaris sedan to $62,000 for a Land Cruiser.

Weve seen some subtle changes, said Zeder. In the past few years the sensitivity towards fuel economy has become a large topic. Our Prius is one of our highest-selling vehicles.Nationally, top-selling cars are generally poor on fuel economy. Only two of the 10 most popular cars in sales volume from the first half of 2007 meet federally recommended gas mileage the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic according to Automotive News.

The top two vehicles, the Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado, get 16 and 17 miles per gallon, respectively.County statistics do not show vehicle models, so its hard to know exactly how many cars get bad gas mileage and how many are hybrids, like the Prius.Its clear, however, that Ferraris arent purchased for fuel economy: A 12-cylinder, 6-liter Ferrari Enzo purchase price $643,000 burns a gallon every seven city miles. Of course, most cars cant do zero to 100 in 6.6 seconds.So, yeah, Aspen has a few high-end vehicles.We do a lot of stuff on BMWs, Range Rovers, stuff like that, where down in Glenwood or Grand Junction you wouldnt see that many of those, said Dan Sparkman, of D&D Auto Repair at the Aspen Business Center.He said some of the truly unusual stuff he sees are the vehicles that are 10 or 15 years old with only 15,000 miles. Whereas many cars in the rest of the country are driven into the ground, second cars here are just like second homes used for a week or two each year.Huba Topai, at Swedish Asian and Beyond, a repair shop in Glenwood, said he too sees a large number of fairly well-kept cars. But, he mentioned, some of the crap that we see would probably average it out.

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