Cyndi Koppelman is a legendary figure in Aston Martin circles. Senior Executive at the family firm Miller Motorcars, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, she has been integral to the marque’s American success, thanks to a long-standing relationship with Aston Martin.
Koppelman, who studied retail merchandising and design, hadn’t initially planned to work in the auto industry. After college, she ran an interior design company until her father died in 1974. On returning home to Connecticut, she was asked by a friend of her father’s if she’d like to work for him, selling imported cars at Newman Volvo, Fiat and Triumph in the historic Hartford County town of Berlin. “To my surprise, the new career was a perfect fit,” she recalls and within just one year, she found herself as one of Volvo’s top American Sales Specialists.
By the late 1970s, Cyndi, her then-fiancé Richard Koppelman and her brother Mark Miller had started their own dealership, Miller Motorcars, in West Hartford before moving to Greenwich. In 1980, however, Cyndi had a meeting with Peter Livanos, then the owner of Aston Martin, who was working closely with then-chairman Victor Gauntlett to raise the company’s profile. This company and the challenge ahead intrigued Koppelman and in January 1981 she left Miller to work for Aston Martin Lagonda of North America selling Aston Martins.
“I quickly discovered I had a lot to learn about the marque,” Koppelman says. “But I’m a fast learner and I dedicated myself to the brand.” Within a couple of years, she had been promoted to Sales Manager for the entire United States, with personal responsibility for ordering cars for stock and sale to the dealer network. “If a dealer wanted a car from stock, it had to come through me,” she says. “They had nothing to worry about — I never order ugly cars.” It was clear that Koppelman had found her niche.
In 1984, she returned to the family business, eventually bringing the Aston Martin franchise for the region to Miller Motorcars, which allowed Koppelman to bring her knowledge and passion home. Ever since then, she has run Miller’s Aston Martin dealership, working six days a week with passion and genuine enthusiasm — it is said that she has sold more Aston Martins than anyone else in North America.
Koppelman had never actually owned an Aston Martin before starting to sell them, let alone driven one. However, these days, her favourite car is her 2005 Aston Martin Vanquish S, the iconic first generation model that is rapidly attaining cult status. “I drive it every day, except in bad weather,” she says. However, it was the DB7 that cemented her connection to the brand.
“The launch of the DB7 was the backbone to the success and evolution of Aston Martin Lagonda Of North America,” she says. “Peter Livanos’s investment was followed by Ford’s ownership, which all improved refinement, quality and reliability, starting with the launch of the DB7. If it hadn’t been for this car, Aston Martin might not be where it is today.”
The brand’s success in America has also grown and evolved over time. “Aston Martin has become an everyday user-friendly vehicle,” Koppelman says. “They are no longer just for weekend drives on back roads; our customers buy their cars to drive them.” Koppelman also enthuses about Aston Martin’s closer connection to female customers. “Vehicles like the DB11 Volante and also the upcoming DBX have a huge appeal to female buyers,” she says.
If it hadn't been for the DB7, Aston Martin might not be where it is today
The DBX, in particular, is bringing a huge shift in perception. “It’s sure to expand Aston’s presence in our current customers’ garages as well as bringing new people to the brand for the first time,” she says. Koppelman also enthuses about Aston Martin’s upcoming mid-engined cars, as well as the new DBS Superleggera Volante. “It’s the most luxurious grand touring sports car out there,” she says.
In 2003, Koppelman was awarded Aston Martin International Sales Person of the Year and four years later she was the proud recipient of the Viscount Downe Memorial Aston Martin Heritage Award, honouring her long-standing commitment to the brand and its customers. Koppelman’s devotion to Aston Martin is matched only with her service to charities and the local community in and around Greenwich.
“The most memorable experience for me is seeing the brand grow and evolve in the US, to a point where it will be a very successful car company for years to come,” she says. “Aston Martin has truly evolved to become one of the most sophisticated, understated, elegant and luxurious brands out there.”