The Weird Story of Ohio Senate Candidate Bernie Moreno’s $3.4 Million Car … from Mother Jones Abby Vesoulis

To say the Aston Martin Vulcan is a luxury vehicle would be like saying Jeff Bezos is well-off. In other words, a vast understatement. The two-door, two-seater with a cherry-red carbon-fiber body can reach a max speed of 208 miles per hour and go from 0-60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. Vulcans are a symbol of opulence more rarified than the imperial Fabergé eggs created for the Romanov family dynasty: 43 of those eggs are known to still exist in the world, but only 24 Aston Martin Vulcans do. And beginning in 2015, Bernie Moreno—now a Republican candidate for US Senate in Ohio—was the proud owner of one of them for a period of time.

“I’ve loved cars since I was a little kid and this car, to me, is just an absolute work of art,” Moreno, who in November will face incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown in one of the most competitive Senate races this cycle, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “When I saw it, I knew I had to have it.”

He didn’t just want to have the Vulcan, which he purchased for $2.3 million. He also wanted to drive it. With at least three police cars providing an escort down busy streets that were partially closed for the occasion, Moreno cruised down Lorain and Stearns roads in the Cleveland suburb of North Olmsted, at times reaching 60 miles per hour, the Plain Dealer reported. Public records requests processed by the city of North Olmsted and obtained by Mother Jones did not return records indicating Moreno paid the city for its services. 

Driving the Vulcan on the street may have violated federal regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict emissions requirements on which cars may be imported and driven in the United States. The Vulcan does not meet requirements for an everyday commuting car, but between March 2015 and February 2017, Aston Martin applied for and received nine EPA “competition” exceptions for 2015 Vulcans, according to the agency.

An EPA spokesperson says the nine exceptions were for cars that must be “solely” used for competition.

In a 2016 video, Moreno discusses the import process more broadly. Instead of shipping the Vulcan as a completed vehicle, he said that the steering wheel—worth $20,000 on its own—was delivered separately. “Nobody’s here from the EPA, right? Good,” Moreno says. “The car’s actually not legally allowed to be in the United States. It is now, but it wasn’t back in October when we got the car. So we shipped it in as car parts.”

EPA spokesperson Jeff Landis told Mother Jones in a statement that importing a non-approved car in parts would not make it compliant with the agency’s Clean Air Act vehicle certification requirements. Motor vehicles “must comply with the Clean Air Act and may not be disassembled nor purchased in a disassembled form for the purposes of evading the Clean Air Act or the Imports regulations,” Landis said. 

Moreno’s campaign says he was not involved in importing the car. “Aston Martin was solely responsible for importing it. Bernie had no decision making power or anything to do with how they decided to import the car,” Moreno’s communications director, Reagan McCarthy, wrote in a statement. “It’s laughable that the leftwing media is melting down over a show car being driven for a matter of minutes down the street.”

Aston Martin confirmed it imported the vehicle and said that the vehicle was approved for import by the EPA before it was shipped. Contradicting Moreno’s 2016 comments, a spokesperson for Aston Martin said the car was not imported “piecemeal.” 

According to Moreno’s account, the steering wheel faced complications in what he described as a separate importing process. The engineer bringing the steering wheel over got held up in customs, Moreno said.

“This was the day after the San Bernardino terrorist attacks,” Moreno explained, “and the chief engineer for this project is actually Italian. And he’s a little bit dark complexion, crazy hair, and he’s going through customs explaining that this box is the steering wheel for a car… They kept him in customs for five hours and interrogated him. But he finally made it through. He didn’t have a sense of humor about that. I thought that was funny.”

In a follow-up conversation with Aston Martin, a spokesperson confirmed the car was first imported in its entirety with a steering wheel that ended up being faulty. A replacement steering wheel was later shipped out, which is what Moreno was likely referring to when describing the hold-up in customs. (Moreno’s spokesperson said his description on video was “Bernie’s understanding of how it was shipped.”)

Nevertheless, Moreno no longer owns the car. In 2016, the Cleveland Aston Martin dealership, which Moreno then owned, listed the Vulcan for sale for $3.4 million—the cost equivalent of 14 new Ferrari Romas, nine Rolls Royce Ghosts, or 90 times Ohio’s median per capita income of $37,729. While the New York Times reported in March 2024 that Moreno’s assets included the Vulcan, Moreno’s spokesperson says that Moreno’s dealership—not Moreno, personally—owned the car, and Moreno sold that dealership in 2019.

Before running for Senate, Moreno was once the largest luxury car dealer by volume in the Midwest, selling Porsches and Bentleys, in addition to Aston Martins. His financial disclosure records indicate his current assets include 43 percent of a Florida property worth between $5 million and $25 million, corporate securities worth between $5 and $25 million, at least two limited partnerships valued between $1 million and $5 million, and 65 percent of a personal driver company valued between $5 million and $25 million, among other things. Financial disclosures include wide ranges of asset values rather than exact figures, but the reports suggest Moreno’s net worth could exceed $100 million. 

It’s unclear what Moreno is driving these days. Brown, whom Moreno is running against, drives a Jeep Cherokee assembled in Toledo by union members.

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