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August 1, 2014

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Life is smooth, fast and ‘waftable’ for luxury-car exec Jesika Towbin-Mansour

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Christopher DeVargas

Jesika Towbin-Mansour, Friday Aug. 23, 2013.

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Rony Mansour and Jesika Towbin-Mansour, Friday Aug. 23, 2013.

Rolls-Royce has earned a reputation for designing and building some of the most elegant motorcars on the planet.

But the company’s imagination does not brake there. Rolls-Royce dabbles in the designing of words, too.

“Waftability,” for instance. That’s a customized, Rolls-Royce verbal vehicle. Similar to how Chrysler once rolled out “Corinthian” leather as a catchy marketing term for its onerously comfortable upholstery, Rolls-Royce extols the “waftability” of its cars’ smooth ride.

The company came up with the term upon the launch of the Phantom a decade ago.

“It’s a feather-like takeoff,” says Jesika Towbin-Mansour, director of operations at Towbin Automotive Group, who is sitting in the passenger’s seat of a 2013 Rolls-Royce Ghost during a cruise of Sahara Avenue. “It’s gently taking off, and then it’s ‘shooooo.’ It describes how the car takes off.”

The $307,000, 624-horsepower Ghost is indeed a waftable ride. The driving compartment is almost silent, devoid of road noise, and the drive is so smooth that you can hit 55 to 60 mph without detecting any measurable increase in speed. The engine is a highly refined V-12 that hums in a seductive sort of way.

You need to baby this car, although Towbin-Mansour does suggest sometime taking it out to Interstate 15, far north of Las Vegas, to “see what she’ll do.” Explaining to a Metro or NHP officer that you were obliterating the posted speed limit because you couldn’t hear the engine “never works,” Towbin-Mansour advises.

Towbin-Mansour is uncommonly street smart about cars, especially for her age — 31. Her education is a familial trait. Her father was Towbin Automotive Enterprises founder Dan Towbin, who died of a heart attack in 2009 at age 54. Towbin-Mansour’s brother is the famous local TV personality Josh “Chopper” Towbin, who co-owns the family business. Towbin-Mansour’s husband, Rony Mansour, is general manager of Towbin Motorcars.

The Towbin Motorcars showroom on West Sahara Avenue is laden with elegant vehicles. The dealership is the only Las Vegas outlet for such British luxury cars as Aston-Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce.

A few other nuggets unearthed during a 20-minute cruise with the woman who first worked part time in her father’s dealership at age 14.

• She didn’t want to be in the car business. “I studied communications at Loyola Marymount. I didn’t want to come back to Vegas, but when I came home, my dad said, ‘I have this opening at my Rolls and Bentley store. I just lost my manager. Do you want to just come in and help me take care of customers?’ Twelve years later, here I am.”

• She has sold multiple cars to some famous repeat customers. “We’ve sold a lot of cars to Floyd Mayweather Jr. The last one he bought — he buys so many — was a convertible Rolls-Royce, and they don’t make that many of them. He bought a white one. He loves only white cars.”

• Her first car was not considered a “luxury” vehicle. “I wanted to have my own, personal car and customize it. It was a VW bug, turbo. It was when the turbos first came out. It was, like, a low-key car, kind of a weird car, but I put cool wheels on it, and it was mine.”

• She had some “bumps in the road” when she began her career as a young woman in a testosterone-fueled industry. “When I was really young, some of the customers would just look at me as the owner’s daughter and thought I didn’t know much, so I really had to know my stuff and earn their respect. I had to study and understand the industry. I think you earn respect by showing people what you can do, and now in the car business, people take me seriously.”

• Business has been brisk. “The recession didn’t hit us until it hit almost everyone else, but we bounced back quicker. It’s still coming around, it’s getting much better. We had our record year last year, at this dealership. Our biggest year ever.”

• As a family member and company executive, she gets the pick of whatever car on the showroom she wants to use for a particular occasion. “I kind of like to tailor it to what we’re doing. If we’re going out to dinner with friends, I might take one type of car, like a Bentley. If we’re going to a black-tie event, I most likely will take a Rolls-Royce.”

• Understandably, she feels very blessed. “Some days I’m walking around going, ‘My God, look at what I’m surrounded by.’ You have to remind yourself because, like anything, it can turn into just the norm for you. But you really just step back and just say, ‘Wow. I have a really cool job.’ ”

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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