Paul Cummings: Grand Touring Automobiles
Grand Touring Automobiles in Toronto has been serving the connoisseurs of luxury and exotic cars for close to 50 years.
People can have many different interests and passions. There are art lovers, music lovers, wine lovers, dog or cat lovers and even those who sleep in sheets with logos of their favourite sports team. After all, “fan” is short form for fanatic.
Then, there are those people who are interested in luxury and exotic cars, which elevate their passion up to an entirely different level. People like Paul Cummings, dealer principal and CEO of Grand Touring Automobiles, the leader in inventory of new and pre-owned luxury and exotic cars in Canada, who can best be described as that classic “car guy.”
“I don’t know a time when I didn’t like cars. I’ve just loved them from day 1,” says Cummings. “My dad owned an autobody shop, and our family has always been around cars. So, the fact that I can combine my passion with this business, it has worked out beautifully.”
Grand Touring Automobiles was founded in 1974 and, at one time, it was the only retailer in Canada to house all of the major British car brands under one roof, as the owner at the time also owned the stately London-inspired Windsor Arms Hotel in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.
Hired by Ford right out of university, Cummings worked on the business side of the automotive world, moving to one of Canada’s big five financial institutions in auto financing before moving to Volvo, where he rose to become president of Volvo Canada. Making the family-focused decision to remain in Canada rather than an international posting, Cummings acquired Grand Touring Automobiles in 2009.
Today, it has locations in Toronto, Vaughan, Ont., Waterloo, Ont., and Calgary, and, from sales to service, parts and detailing, the company is known as the pre-eminent dealer with the largest and best selection of luxury and exotic cars and SUVs in Canada. Cummings has expanded the brands to where Grand Touring Automobiles now sells Aston Martin, Bentley, Bugatti, Jaguar, Karma, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Polestar, Rolls- Royce, Koenigsegg, Lotus, Rimac and Volvo, with outstanding service by its highly knowledgeable sales staff and maintenance from its U.K.- and European-trained technicians.
“We have to instill Confidence in Our customers Through our Knowledge of The vehicles”
Cummings knows first-hand that others share his passion for cars, regardless of age, and relates his favourite story that occurred after Grand Touring Automobiles moved from its 24,000-square-foot showroom to its current 141,000-square-foot, five-floor flagship showroom in Toronto in 2017.
“A mother and her young sons showed up in their minivan one day during the March school holiday break,” recalls Cummings. “They just wanted to walk around our showroom and take photos of themselves beside our cars. I never realized before that our showroom would become a destination for a family during their holiday.”
Not everyone has the means to purchase a luxury SUV, exotic sports car or even the hyper-sports cars that are now on the market, but when the opportunity arises for them to do so, Cummings and his staff fully appreciate and understand their roles in making a dream come true.
“We have to instill confidence in our customers through our knowledge of the vehicles,” says Cummings. “We’re actually the end of the story, as the customer is rewarding themselves with a beautiful car. Something has happened in their lives through success in business, or they’ve worked hard and want to treat themselves, so the car is really the end of what’s happened in their lives. Nobody needs the cars we sell; they want these cars, and our people understand that. Let’s make sure that what we add to the equation is the ‘wow’ factor and to take care of them properly.”
Few products in the marketplace have changed more than the automobile in the last 10–15 years, and Grand Touring Automobiles is keeping up with all the changes. Cummings recalls with some bemusement the differences he observed about the wants and desires for a vehicle between Europeans and North Americans while he was at Volvo: the Europeans were concerned with technology and engines, and the North Americans were more focused on how many cupholders were inside the car. The future of the automobile will extend far beyond cupholders and will be driven by the next generation.
“We are truly at a game-changing time in the automotive industry, and, with what I’m seeing with the products that we sell and the parts coming from the leading manufacturers, there is so much happening,” says Cummings. “Technology is changing drastically, and design language of cars is evolving, as they have to maintain their brand heritage. It’s also about what the customer is expecting. While we still sell big 12-cylinder gas-burning engines, we also have a new generation saying that’s not for them. They want a hybrid or perhaps full electrification, and the governments are looking for more green technology. You’ll still be purchasing a car, but it is evolving so quickly and so fast, as we have a responsibility to do what’s right for the environment and the climate.”
With the leading luxury and exotic car inventory in Canada, professional and knowledgeable sales staff and highly trained and skilled technicians, Grand Touring Automobiles has earned its rightful place atop the Canadian automotive industry. And, while you may not choose to spend your holiday time inside a car dealership, if you are looking to reward yourself, treat yourself or just fuel your passion for exotic cars, there is no doubt that Grand Touring Automobiles can quench your thirst.
Interview by Estelle Zentil