WICHITA — Wichitan Klaus Viljanmaa grew up in Finland in a family that was “crazy” for cars and motorcycles, but his father issued an edict that no Mercedes-Benz would ever be found in his driveway.
He told his children those cars are for “better people,” meaning uppity ones.
His father relented, though, which is good for Viljanmaa, who this week bought his fourth Mercedes — a 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, for $240,000.
“The cars are half price,” Viljanmaa says of what cars cost in the United States versus Finland. “So I wouldn’t complain here.”
Scholfield Auto Plaza general manager Bobby Cuillo isn’t complaining, either.
“He’s an unbelievable repeat customer of mine,” Cuillo says of Viljanmaa.
Just to be able to sell the car was a coup for Cuillo.
There are only 475 of them that will be built this year, and there are 355 Mercedes-Benz dealerships nationally. The ones in bigger metro areas, particularly on the coasts, are the dealerships that generally get the exclusive cars.
“We had to go to bat with Mercedes,” Cuillo says.
Ordinarily, he wouldn’t have gotten to sell the car for another two or three years.
Cuillo, though, could show Mercedes his dealership’s market penetration and industry-leading customer satisfaction.
“It’s a real success,” he says. “It’s great for Wichita, too.”
Cuillo says he has a “phenomenal relationship” with Mercedes-Benz, but still the company wanted to know who was going to get the car.
“They want it in the hands of Mercedes aficionados.”
Viljanmaa is a car and motorcycle aficionado — period.
Cuillo says he appreciates Viljanmaa’s love of vehicles, but he also likes his personal story.
Viljanmaa’s family was involved with Lions Clubs International in Finland, and he came here as part of an exchange program.
Wichitan Traci Hutchings’ family was a host family. She saw about 15 potential exchange students in pictures.
“She claims she saw me and chose me from that picture,” Viljanmaa says.
Years later, the two married and now have three children.
“She calls me the mail-order boy.”