Budget Ballin'

To hell with the economy! South Florida's lawless exotic rental car industry keeps rolling.

In the midst of the maneuver, a cream-colored old-man Buick pulls in front of him without using a blinker. Mosabe hesitates half a second before pumping the brakes, and by the time the Lamborghini slows, he is one or two feet from the Buick. "I scared the shit out of him!" he yells over the churning engine, and laughs merrily. He then confides to New Times: "I'm only driving like this because you're here. If it was just me, I'd be going 35 right now."

Mosabe seems exactly like the type of guy you would imagine behind the wheel of that audacious ride screaming past you on the interstate. He says he is a Dubai-born millionaire, the son of a self-made clothing magnate, and lives at Trump Plaza in Sunny Isles Beach. He is in the midst of commissioning a reality show about his recent move from New Jersey to Miami.

And he brags about clubbing with hip-hop producer Scott Storch. "We were up until 9 this morning," he says. "There were some women; we took them over to his place. Man, you wouldn't believe the things women will do for fame."

For the Gotham Dream Car Tour, customers pay $895 to wheel this $1.3 million fleet through South Florida.
Laura Massa
For the Gotham Dream Car Tour, customers pay $895 to wheel this $1.3 million fleet through South Florida.

Before moving south, he says, he had a membership at the Classic Car Club in Manhattan, a $20,000-per-month privilege that allowed him to take out any of the classic or exotic vehicles in the showroom. When he moved to South Florida earlier this year, he began renting at Exoticars, a tiny shop on the ground floor of Bay's Inn, a dingy motel on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 35th Street.

He rented so often that the business's owner, a man named Jose, told him it would make more sense for Mosabe to buy into the company. Mosabe contends he purchased two of the Lamborghinis that now sit on Jose's lot, including this yellow Murciélago. He seems to consider it a small investment. "My wife was always yelling, 'Why do you rent?'" he says. "She's right. And Jose's a great guy."

The white-knuckle ride ends as Mosabe glides to a halt just east of North Miami, outside a gutted house where shreds of wallpaper, rotten wood, and other debris form a mountain on the curb. This, he says, is his new enterprise: a "three-quarter-way" house for recovering addicts and substance abusers. He paints it as an altruistic venture: "This isn't about making money."

His business associates are two semi-homeless men in filthy T-shirts, recovering addicts themselves, who live in the house while they strip it. "In a world of scumbags," one of them, Larry Bernstein, says of Mosabe, "this guy's a prince."

Indeed, Mosabe's practiced veneer is that of new Miami royalty. He is like many others in the exotic rental car business: charming, egotistical, magnetic — and upon closer inspection, an absolute mirage.

A couple of weeks after the ride to North Miami, he has reversed his opinion of his new business partner. "Jose's a piece of shit," Mosabe says abruptly over the phone. "Basically he stole my money and he took my cars."

He doesn't go into much detail — "look, it's a long story" — only repeating that Jose refuses to give back the Lamborghinis and owes him $50,000 on top of that.

Jose — a usually coolly detached man who wears button-down shirts open to the chest, sports a gray ponytail, and also refuses to give his last name — is enraged. "I never had a business partnership with the guy," he says. "The guy's a fucking con artist. The guy's talking about Scott Storch. The guy doesn't have a pot to piss in."

No business named Exoticars at the Bay's Inn address is listed in state records. But a shop sharing the same phone number is Extreme Exotic Car Rentals. Among the names on that title: Mosabe Al Homsi. No Jose is listed.

Asked how Mosabe could be listed if they don't have a partnership, Jose hedges and then puts New Times on hold. He never returns to the line. Despite Jose's "con artist" accusation, Mosabe Al Homsi does not have a criminal record.

Mosabe calls a couple of weeks after the tour of his three-quarter-way house. He maintains that Jose ripped him off, but now says he never claimed to own the Lamborghinis or even invest in Exoticars. "I don't have anything to say about that," he tells New Times.

But he does have some news: He is launching his own luxury rental car company. He says he has the starter cars — a couple of BMWs, a Mercedes, a Porsche 911 — and a name: Luxury Status Auto Rental. "Because fuck Jose," he adds. It's a strange reason to start a business, but Mosabe seems determined.

Nino Zarzuela, owner of Empire Rental Car on Collins Avenue in South Beach, long ago stopped renting only cars. He calls himself a "lifestyle broker." "We're like a concierge at a five-star hotel," he explains. "We do packaging. We provide mansions, yachts, helicopters, charter planes, whatever you want. Our job is to pamper you."

Over the two years he has been in business, his clients have included Jamie Foxx, Shaquille O'Neal, T.I., Birdman, Young Jeezy, and Wyclef Jean, he says. To illustrate the lengths to which he will go to please a client, Zarzuela tells the story of a Turkish princess who contracted him to set up a four-month Miami stay. He leased her a mansion on Normandy Isle and procured cars for her entire entourage — an Aston Martin, a Mercedes, two Escalades, and two Hummers. And he set up grooming sessions for her dogs — quite a feat, because she traveled with 60 of them. "From miniature Yorkies to bulldogs," Zarzuela says. "Any type of dog, she had one."

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