What is luxury in Oklahoma? For some, it’s a six-figure truck; for others, it may be a high-end home in a gated neighborhood. Boats, jewelry, custom-made clothing and exotic food are all items that can be considered “luxury.”
Those material possessions that qualify as luxury items are available in Oklahoma. With the right connections and the magic number in a bank account, luxury can be yours in the Sooner State.
Nothing says luxury like a sweet ride. America loves its cars, and – when they have the money – Americans love to display their wealth on four wheels. It’s practically a tradition.
The most luxurious car on the market these days may be the Mercedes Benz Maybach. Jay-Z drives one. Kanye West drives one. What higher endorsement could there be?
Amenities in the Maybach include an extended wheel base, making the ride as smooth as possible; reclining back seats, embroidered pillows for the back seats, televisions and other goodies. Options include panel roofs, refrigerators in the back and a long list of other items to make it even more luxurious than it already is. But be prepared to lay down about $200,000 for it.
“This is a true luxury car. It’s got more than 520 horsepower, but it’s not meant to be a zero-to-60 car. I mean, it’ll do it in five seconds, but it’s smooth and quiet. It’s a luxury car,” says Ryan Knotts, sales manager for Mercedes Benz at Tulsa’s Jackie Cooper Imports.
Need something to haul all that cash around? Try a truck. Or, rather, the truck. Oklahoma City’s Bob Moore Ford ordered three of the new Shelby F-150s. In production now, they’ll show up early next year. A limited edition vehicle, only 500 will be made. The sticker price: a cool $98,900.
“It’s going to have every amenity inside that you can imagine, as well as all the power you’d expect. All the Shelby stuff will be there. It’s probably the most interesting truck we’ve ever had here,” says Steven Schroeder, general manager of Bob Moore Ford.
The Shelby F-150 sports a five-liter motor that generates 700 horsepower. With a variable suspension, it’s made to drive under any conditions and over any obstacle, anywhere, anytime. Many of the amenities are provided by Tuscany, a company well-known among truck enthusiasts for its high-end aftermarket luxury products. The vista roof provides a panoramic view all the way to the back seat, ensuring that passengers won’t miss the scenery, too.
If speed is your game, Knotts recommends Maserati’s Gran Turismo. It’s got a Ferrari motor, but don’t look for a lot of technological bells and whistles that get in the way of the driving experience. Maserati wants you to feel the road, not the onboard computer system. Expect to spend between $140,000 to $220,000 depending on the options.
“It’s a really exotic car. You can spend a lot of money on a Mercedes or a Porsche, but you still don’t get the thumbs-ups and the high fives at the gas station like you do with a Maserati,” says Knotts.
David Litzinger, general Manager at Tulsa’s Don Thornton Automotive, recommends – if money really is no object – a Bugatti Veyron. With 12 cylinders and four turbos, it hits a top speed of 268 miles per hour. It starts at $1 million but can go to $2 million faster than it goes from zero to 60. One set of tires costs $30,000, and they have to be replaced every 5,000 miles.
“If you want to spend a million on this car, you better have a little pocket change laying around for the maintenance,” says Litzinger.
An Emotional Purchase
Tulsa Realtor Peter Walter says that the journey clients buying a luxury home take is no different from that of a first-time buyer.
“I ask them to tell me what they want, and frequently, they don’t know what they want,” says Walter.
He recently had a client that wanted a very traditional home, but she ended up purchasing a home with clean lines and a contemporary feel that had some traditional features.
He says buying a home at any price point is an emotional experience.
“People are looking for what they like, but they don’t always know what they like,” he says. “They’re looking for something they have an emotional connection to, something they can work with or change. There are so many different reasons that people buy, but a lot of it has to do with something that they connect with.”
Walter says that most luxury homes have one thing in common: good location.
“Location is important,” Walter says. “And upgrades and updates are often there, although often just a quality, well-designed house has potential to be turned into something that someone can work with.”
Nothing screams luxury more than a well-made suit. It’s not an easy process, but there are designers in the Sooner State who will cater to any desire for a special, one-of-a-kind garment. Ty Hirtzel, an Oklahoma City bespoke menswear designer, creates such pieces for men with discerning tastes.
The process of having a custom suit made is simple, but it can take some time, Hirtzel says.
“I’ll typically go to the client for their convenience, to their home or office, and we sit down and look through fabrics and make appropriate choices for what they’re needing,” he says. “We talk about fit and style preferences.”
Hirtzel will take many measurements, then order fabric from Italy. Once the fabric is received, it is packaged with the measurements and sent to New York to be crafted by hand. The finished product is then sent to Hirtzel, who again meets with the client for a final fitting. Small adjustments are handled by a local tailor. The finished product is then hand-delivered to the client. From consultation to receipt of the final product, the process can take two months.
Hirtzel says that most clients request two-piece suits, which begin at $1,800, but the price goes up depending on fabric. Three-piece suits, tuxedoes and single pieces, like trousers or a sport jacket, are also available.
Would you believe that some of the world’s finest caviar comes from the freshwater lakes and rivers located in northeast Oklahoma? Brandon Brown, paddlefish research and caviar coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, believes that the caviar, salvaged from paddlefish that are abundant in Grand Lake, Neosho River and other freshwater bodies, is one of the state’s best-kept secrets.
Traditionally, caviar is harvested from sturgeon fish. Problems with overfishing have left sturgeon scarce in some areas. Paddlefish, have roe that are similar in quality, look and taste. Though the fish is native to as much as one-third of the United States, only a few states boast robust populations of the prehistoric fish, and Oklahoma houses one of the largest populations of any state.
Brown says that about a decade ago, the Wildlife Department noticed a worrying trend of paddlefish poachers. Because the paddlefish had not traditionally been fished for as vigorously as other species, the department had not put much effort into documenting the state of the paddlefish population in Oklahoma.
“We had no data on paddlefish populations,” Brown says. “Being a state agency, we wanted to manage paddlefish but couldn’t because we’re funded by license dollars, and those buying licenses wanted bass and crappie, so those were the populations we concentrated on.”
Today, the paddlefish program operates on Grand Lake in Miami, Okla. Anglers are allowed to catch two paddlefish per year using a hook and line. The program is voluntary for anglers, but it offers benefits for both parties involved.
Once anglers snag a paddlefish, they can bring their catch to the fishery for processing. There, Wildlife Department workers clean the fish and package it for the anglers. They also get to inspect the fish caught and measure various parts, which gives them an idea of the health and size of the paddlefish population. While they’re at it, they salvage the females’ eggs to sell.
Brown says that the paddlefish eggs are sold in 1,000-pound units to the highest bidder; they usually fetch around $100 per pound. Those bidders then prepare and repackage the caviar for sale around the world. He says that companies in Japan are consistently top bidders. One hundred percent of the profits from caviar sales goes back into the Wildlife Department’s paddlefish program and general fund and for conservation efforts.
“The caviar that we produce is known to be the best paddlefish caviar in the world,” says Brown. “It’s really surprising that Oklahoma has the reputation it does in the caviar world.”