Ronald Charles Vinci, Former Santa Ana Honda Dealer, Dies Mysteriously in Florida
The body of the former owner of a Santa Ana Honda dealership was found this week wrapped in duct tape in the two-story, $5 million mansion he purchased a couple weeks ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida's upscale Tarpon Bend neighborhood.
Police there revealed few other details about the death of self-made multimillionaire Ronald Charles Vinci, except to say the Broward Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the 70-year-old's suspicious death.
Michael Vivoli, Vinci's attorney of 11 years, last spoke to his client after the mansion was acquired about a month ago, he tells the Herald. Vinci started out in the 1960s in the San Diego area with some tools and $1,500. He began selling Honda motorcycles at a time many wondered who would buy the things. Plenty did, and Vinci spun that business into a Honda auto dealership. His success there and smart investments resulted in Vinci eventually owning several dealerships in Southern California, including Honda Santa Ana, and one in Las Vegas. "He earned every penny he ever had," Vivoli reportedly said.
When Vinci sold Honda Santa Ana in 2007, the dealership had projected revenues of $100 million on sales of 4,800 new and used vehicles, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
With his fortune, Vinci bought multiple boats, airplanes and helicopters. He abandoned building a heliport at his Rancho Santa Fe home after neighbors mounted protests against it. He later won approval for a new location for helipads: on top of some of his dealerships. He liked to fly copters through the Nevada desert and to beat the SoCal traffic.
The Herald reports that Vinci was also involved in the early sale of the famed DeLorean car created by the late John DeLorean. In fact, DeLorean sued Vinci in 1984, claiming about 70 DeLoreans were mistakenly sent to Vinci's Pacific Honda dealership in San Diego. Vinci, who had twice loaned the financially troubled DeLorean $620,000, considered the cars payback. It's unclear how the case was ultimately resolved.
Vinci resettled in South Florida in 2005 and went about selling off his remaining dealerships. Vivoli tells the Herald his client had grown tired of how litigious the automobile business had become.
He first owned a high-rise condo in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. In 2006, he bought a $1.5 million home nearby that property records indicate he still owned at the time of his demise. He became the owner of the mansion on Coconut Drive near Lewis Landing Park on June 14. The two-story, 8,000-square-foot home with a pool, Jacuzzi, multi-car garage and an elevator is valued at about $4.9 million.
Police received a 9-1-1 call from someone there Tuesday after Vinci's body was found wrapped in duct tape.
He leaves behind a girlfriend, an adult son, a grandson and no criminal record in Florida.