Helping Horsepower: Charity Auction Wins Big in Naples

Two icons of the automotive world helped this year’s Naples Winter Wine Festival raise over $12.5 million for Collier County children’s charities – one bought a stunning new Rolls-Royce Wraith for $750,000, the other a super-rare Lamborghini Aventador for $900,000.

   Monte Ahuja, founder of Transtar Industries, the world’s leading distributor of automotive transmission replacement parts, was an enthusiastic bidder for the diamond-black 2014 Wraith two-door coupe with its moccasin leather, black piping and tudor oak veneers.

Naples Winter Wine Festival - Rolls-Royce Wraith

   His $750,000 winning bid was exactly twice the car’s list price. Not a problem for Mr. Ahuja, who in 2006 donated $30 million to Cleveland’s University Hospitals to build a new medical center.

   Here in Naples, he’s on the board of trustees for Naples Children and Education Foundation. He’s also a Naples Winter Wine Festival Board of Trustees member.

   It wasn’t Mr. Ahuja’s first car purchase at the Festival. In 2007, he bid a whopping $1.3 million for a Bentley Continental GTC Convertible. The following year, he snapped-up the first Bentley Brooklands Coupe to come to the U.S. for $450,000.

Naples Winter Wine Festival - Auction

   As for the Lamborghini, that went to none other than Roger Penske, legendary owner of Penske Racing, and owner of the second largest auto dealership group in the world with over 260 stores.

   What he bought was a bright yellow Aventador LP720-5 Anniversario – #45 of only 100 available worldwide, list price $497,650. It’s powered by a thundering 720-horsepower 6.5-liter V12 that punches this hip-high hyper-car to 60mph in just 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 217mph. It was designed to celebrate the company’s 50th Anniversary.

   What’s interesting is that Mr. Penske says he had no intention of buying the Lambo before arriving at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort for the auction.

Lamborghini Aventador LP720-5 Anniversario - Roger Penske - Napels Winter Wine Festival

   “When I drove in and saw this car, I thought ‘This is a car I’d like to own’. I’m from Detroit and I’m a car racer, so this hit the sweet spot,” he told reporters. 

    Amazingly, the Festival has raised over $123 million during its 14 year history, all of which has gone to benefit Collier County’s underprivileged and at-risk children.

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