words: Troy Sicotte, photos: Denis Podmarkov
Southern California is arguably the birthplace of modern car culture. If you consider yourself any kind of automotive enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to take an easy cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway, carve up Big Tujunga Canyon Road or check out any given weekend’s myriad of cars and coffee get togethers. It’s also home to some of the biggest and best car dealerships in the country.
It’s in Hollywood where we find Amanda Hart. After a successful professional career in the performing arts, Hart found herself with the unique opportunity to define the next step in her career at a young age since the performance arts often has a retirement age more akin to an NFL player than accountant.
In less than five years, Hart has made a name for herself in the European car scene in and around greater Los Angeles by quickly establishing herself at Audi Beverly Hills (p. 96), the largest Audi dealership in the USA. We caught up with Amanda at her place of employment to see how it all came together and continues to evolve.
quattro Magazine (qM): Tell us a bit about yourself, how you grew up and how you came into the car industry and greater European car scene.
Amanda Hart (AH): I grew up in Tulare County, the most central part of California. This area is filled with classic car enthusiasts and I was lucky to be born into a family filled with mechanics, restorers and petrol junkies. My dad, mom, and both grandfathers were big on restoring and racing any and all SS Chevys. My little sister and I basically grew up with the most gorgeous cars and exciting track day stories. My family was extremely talented with this and I always admired them and the passion they had for automobiles.
At nine I started dancing and eventually pursued a performing arts degree leading to a professional career up until retirement just a few years ago. This is where I made my career transition into the automotive realm.
qM: How did your affection for Audi start and why did you choose to sell for the brand?
AH: Growing up with Chevys meant I was pretty into “‘MERICA!” with my love of cars. Once I got into college, my good friend showed up with her BMW M3. This introduced me to all things German. I remember nearing graduation and seeing an Audi A6 drive by… LEDs…and that C-pillar. I said, “I’d buy stock in Audi RIGHT NOW!” I won’t forget that moment because that’s when the Audi brand pretty much stole my heart…I also should have learned how to buy stock!
qM: What were some early challenges as you entered the car business, and how did you overcome those challenges?
AH: My first challenge was my interview. I was aware that my entire resumé read as a dance director and choreographer. Aside from passion, nothing spoke to automotive experience. At the time, I was teaching dance, directing my non-profit dance company and producing my annual dance festival. I was asked, “Do you think you can sell cars?” I answered, “I think it’s a lot harder to sell dance in L.A. than Audis.” I was hired 2 days later. The #1 Audi dealership in the nation was willing to take a chance on me. I finished my week-long training in three days and sold a fully loaded, Prestige, S-line plus, black optics Q7 TDI on my first “up”. I’m happy to say I’m still friends with that family from Fresno.
qM: What do you do outside of work to find relief?
AH: I still produce my annual dance festival each August, which keeps me tied to my dance roots. I’m a big yoga fan and find a lot of what I need in that practice. I’ve taken 2019 and turned it into my “track launch year” and have been able to get my personal car on Streets of Willow, Buttonwillow, Big Willow and Auto Club Speedway so far. All of this track hunger being sparked by my childhood, a LadyDriven BMW CCA autocross I did a few years ago, and the Audi Sport experience at Circuit of the Americas that I was lucky enough to attend as our dealership’s Audi Sport Ambassador. Hot-lapping RS 3s, TT RSs and R8 V10 pluses on an F1 track will ruin you for life, in the best way possible. If you know me even a bit, all other free time is filled with wine and my closest friends and family.
qM: You seem involved in the local car scene. Tell us how you’re involved, what you like doing?
AH: I try to be as involved as possible. Working weekends takes me away from a lot of events, but anything I can get to I do. Drives, Cars & Coffee, Lady Driven & Accelerating Change events, autocross and track days are important to me. I love talking cars with fellow enthusiasts. Sharing such a thrilling, artistic and individualized passion is so inspiring.
AH: Lady Driven is of particular interest. It’s a women led platform and community built on bringing women together in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere within automotive outlets and careers. They offer a good amount of female-themed track days, autocrosses and gatherings as well as highlights of women “kicking ass” in auto, moto, air, skating…basically anything with wheels, wings and sports on their social media platforms. I think every woman should be a part of the Lady Driven community because it really gives all women an encouraging place to start and be surrounded by fellow women lifting them up and forward.
qM: Does being involved in the car scene help you in your career?
AH: I think so! If people can associate me and my passion for the brand, and cars in general, I think they can trust me to find them the best car and help them make it theirs. I also feel like networking within the community is important. It’s a small world and everyone should know what I do, that I’m there for them, and that I’m open to a lot of options and bridging.
qM: You’ve recently acquired a new RS 5 you’ve now famously named Prince. It’s a lovely Audi exclusive Merlin Purple coupé (more on p.62). How has it been so far?
AH: Oh. My. God. I love him. I’ve loved the RS 5 for years now. It’s been my favorite Audi since day one. A few years ago I discovered Merlin Purple during an online search for RS 6 Avants. I knew that once I made my RS 5 dream come true, it would have to be Merlin. I’m so so happy.
qM: Will owning Prince (the RS 5) enable you to sell more Audi exclusive cars?
AH: I don’t see why not. I have a ton of people obsessed with his color. It opens a lot of doors to a bunch of fun and new opportunities. Clients will hopefully trust me with their “risk” to try something new, seeing that I myself drive a purple Audi. It takes a little push to be bold sometimes.
qM: There are many Audi-themed clubs in your region. How do you view those local clubs and what can Audi Club North America learn from them?
AH: Audi Club North America is made up of all these Audi Club enthusiasts. Seeing the events, community style and connections that these local clubs encompass is what will drive Audi Club North America forward. All of these clubs are essential to pushing Audi’s enthusiasm and growth.
qM: How do you spread the word on your affection for Audi?
AH: Social media is obviously a big platform. I like to share photos of a lot of the gorgeous builds we get in and share articles about the impact Audi is making in the automotive, racing and social realms. I also talk cars 85% of the time I talk about anything. So, if you’re around me, it’s car talk at some point.
qM: What’s next?
AH: I want to keep growing with Audi and Audi of America. I’m open to any and every platform that lets me share my passion for the brand and lets me contribute to its growth and enthusiasm.
qM: If you were to give advice to anyone that wanted to start working for an Audi Dealership, what advice would you give them?
AH: It’s not for the weak of heart. It’s not easy. Any job working with the general public in a high-scale sales situation takes tenacity, patience, and skill. You don’t have a conventional schedule and you need to put the work in. If you love the brand, want to put the work in, and can manage yourself, your goals, schedule and expectations… then go for it. It’s rewarding. Put down roots in one dealership, and don’t hop around. Commit. Make your clients your family. Be genuine. Care. Know that the service you provide and what you sell matters and is important.
qM: Is there anything else you want Audi Club members to know about you, or Prince, your RS 5?
AH: I am thankful for the position I hold. I’m here for all those who love Audi! Keep a lookout for Prince, too, because we plan on making some track appearances soon. We need more Audis out there, showing off quattro!