Jeff Bootz — Give Me Bull

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 11/2010
  • posted in: Great Garages

Jeff Bootz once dreamed about a “special” car. Now the Phoenix native has three.

His dad owned a couple Jaguar XKEs. “I was really taken by their style, and my dad’s passion for meticulously cleaning and taking care of them,” Jeff recalls. “Whenever he took me for a ride in them, I was just in awe of the mechanical and exhaust sounds that came with the ride.”

He adds: “These were not ‘ordinary’ cars; they were special. I started reading car magazines and dreaming about the day when I could own my ‘special’ car.”

His first one was a ’68 Camaro, which he bought when he was at Glendale High School. At Arizona State University, he had a ‘73 Mustang. Later, he followed with more Chevys: a ‘78 Camaro and Corvette and ’82 and ‘86 Corvettes.

Next, he acquired marriage, trading in the ’86 Corvette for a minivan. “My sports/muscle car days were over!” he despaired. Soon, though, he had a ‘91 Toyota MR2, then a ‘91 Dodge Stealth TT. 

He’s worked at Bootz & Duke Sign Co. since 1976, a Phoenix-based company started by his dad and business partner in 1964. Jeff sold the business to his brother-in-law in 2006 but continues there in sales. 

In 1994, he turned 40, and his thoughts turned to exotic cars. “I told myself that I’m not getting any younger and if I was going to do something foolish, I’d better do it soon.”

He bought his first exotic, a 1987 Ferrari 328. “I was in heaven,” he recalls. “I loved the way it sounded, loved the gated shifter and loved the lines of the car.”

Jeff had the car for five years, then owned, among others, a 1995 Ferrari 355, a 1991 Ferrari Testarossa, a 2003 Mercedes SL500 and a 2006 Corvette Z06.

Then, his thoughts moved to the “dark side” of the “Bull”: Lamborghinis with their Ursula Andress curves, scissor doors and other nasty items mother warned about.

To accommodate his three vehicles, he’s epoxied his garage floor in a 24-inch black-and-white checkerboard pattern and has added photos of various cars, old license plates, a three-dimensional bull and an illuminated sign of the AZ Lamborghini Club”[Jeff is the current president].

Here are Jeff’s three “special” cars:

•2005 Lamborghini Gallardo — “At the time, I had my Ferrari 355 and my Mercedes SL 500. I heard a guy had an ‘05 Lamborghini Gallardo for sale and I contacted him. I sold the Mercedes, and the Gallardo was mine!

“This car was built after Audi took over the reins at Lamborghini, and there is a lot of German influence in this car, so the car is very reliable, but still has that ‘Italian exotic’ body style. It has a 5.0-liter V-10 engine and produces 492 horsepower.

“When I first saw a Gallardo, especially next to Ferraris, I knew I was hooked. It just has that ‘more outrageous’ look that Lamborghinis have when compared with Ferraris, and I was attracted to that. After having owned three Ferraris, I was ready to move over to ‘the dark side!’ Now that I’m there, I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

“Driving a Lamborghini is a very special experience. The feel, the sound, the looks of the car: They all add up to an awesome driving experience. I try and take this car out for a drive of some kind at least every other week.”

•1999 Lamborghini Diablo — “This car is my favorite. A Diablo has always been my dream car, but I never thought I would own one.

“This is a true Italian exotic, with all its flamboyance, flaws, frustrations and satisfactions! It is a love/hate relationship. When everything is working, it is the most fantastic driving experience! The scissor doors, the awesome sound of the exhaust, the sinister wedgy shape of the car: It turns more heads than any car I’ve had. 

“Only 23 ‘99 Diablo VT coupes were brought to the U.S. This car has a 5.7-liter V-12 engine and produces 530 horsepower. On items that I am capable of handling, I have done a lot of my own service/repair work on this car, just to get to know it better. 

“I have said this before about a few of the cars that I have owned, but I really think that I will never sell this car. I usually take the Diablo out for a drive every weekend.”

•1996 Acura NSX — “This is my third Acura NSX. The other two were 1991 models. When Honda designed this car, they were determined to make an exotic-looking car that was reliable and that would handle better than almost anything out there at the time. I think that this car also forced the exotic car manufacturers, especially Ferrari, into making better and more reliable cars.

“This car only has a 3.0-liter V-6 engine, producing 270 horsepower. Although it doesn’t have the power of the Lamborghinis, it is adequate and fun to drive. It is a very “tight” feeling car and is put together very well. You could definitely use this car as a daily driver, unlike the Lambos.

“In 1991, there were about 3,000 of these cars sold. Every year after that, you could cut the previous year’s sales figure in half. In 1995, when the car got a removable top, sales went up a little, as they did in 1997, when the engine went to 3.2 liters and 290 horsepower.

“You don’t see these cars on the road very much, but when you do, they are very striking.  I have been waiting many years to see the ‘next generation NSX,’ but it hasn’t happened and may never happen. Overall, it’s a very reliable and good-looking ‘semi-exotic’ car. And my wife loves it!”