The First Car of 7-Eleven PH’s Top Guy Got Stolen. Guess What He’s Driving Now

Victor Paterno bought another car years after the first, and it, too, got stolen.

Victor Paterno is best known as the big guy behind the local franchise of global convenience store behemoth 7-Eleven. As president, CEO and executive director of Philippine Seven Corp, he has steered the company toward an unmistakable leadership position in the lucrative but fickle retail industry in the country. The company ended 2018 with 2,600 stores and is expected to breach 3,000 locations by the end of the year. 

Besides being known as a businessman—he was awarded Esquire Philippines’ Businessman of the Year at the 2019 Man At His Best Awards—Paterno is also known as an avid sportsman and has talked at length of his love for biking.

Stolen car

But Paterno is also a car enthusiast and during the sidelines of this year’s Singapore Fintech Festival in the Lion City, we asked him about his first car.

Victor Paterno's first car was just like this one: a VW Rabbit GTI


“The first car I ever owned myself was a Volkswagen Rabbit GTI, a black one,” he said. “I bought it used when I graduated from school, in 1990, and got a job in the States. I was 21 years old.” Paterno attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and graduated with honors in mechanical engineering.

The Rabbit was what VW called its Golf in the United States. The GTI, in particular, was the North American version of the Golf GTI, which made its debut in the US in 1983

“It was two years old and I bought it for about $12,000,” Paterno said. “It was fast and it was fun to drive.”

The businessman said he always wanted that model, although he had other dreams for a first car.

“I always wanted a Porsche, but of course, I couldn’t afford that!” he said chuckling.

Paterno said he had some fun memories with his VW Rabbit.

“I drove it in New Jersey,” he said. “I outfitted it with a radar detector, of course, because it's a sports car. And I had a sunroof. I drove it to the beach, and drove it to New York City a lot, which is where it got stolen.”

Paterno said he had the car for about a year and a half before he lost it to thieves in the Big Apple.

“After that, I got another car, and I said, ‘Okay, I'm going to go to New York City, and I'm in a car that's not gonna get stolen.’ So, it was like a $500 Renault Fuego. And I think the thing just died (eventually).” 

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Modest car

After that, Paterno got another car, this one not so high profile.

“It was an old Nissan Sentra. I remember having to push to start it. It was a light car. I could push and then I could jump in when it was fast enough. And then I was like, ‘Okay, enough of this I'm going to get a nice car, I gotta race.’ So I got a Volkswagen Corrado."

It was the first car that Paterno bought that was completely brand new. But bad luck seemed to follow him and his cars because it, too, got stolen, and also in New York City. The businessman could only smile and reminisce about those days with his old cars.

Today, although Paterno can afford to live it up more when it comes to his vehicle of choice, he remains modest. His regular everyday ride, he says, is a five-year-old Honda Accord, for which he has a driver.

“I’m a retailer,” he says. “We have to be modest. It improves your bargaining position with suppliers.”

But of course, Paterno has a set of wheels for the weekends, which he uses for his getaways and leisure drives.

“It’s a BMW X5 M,” he says. “It’s low-key, but fast.”

Paterno's current weekend car is just like this one: a BMW X5 M


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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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