Huntington WoodsJuly 22, 2013
Ferraris, Maseratis and BMWs
By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer
HUNTINGTON WOODS — Like so many in the Detroit area, Lauren Mendelson grew up around cars, as her father worked in the auto parts business.
However, while others who grew up around Detroit may have developed a desire to own classic cars, Mendelson’s passion was for something more exotic. From Maseratis to Ferraris and BMWs, Mendelson developed a palate for cars hard to find.
At the 35th annual Concours d’Elegance of America car show July 28 at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mendelson will display her newest find — a 2013 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, a car that came in directly from Italy only a week ago.
“The way the lines go down from the hood to the trunk line, it is like a work of art to me,” Mendelson, a Huntington Woods resident, said of the Ferrari. “I am very passionate about these things, and Ferrari keeps coming out with such beautiful designs, the lines are always, for the most part, my favorite part. They are gorgeous.”
Mendelson’s dad owned a junkyard that was full of old cars from which he would pull used parts. While most girls may not have been interested in spending time around the old, broken cars, Mendelson said she got her automotive education by spending time there, and she developed a fondness for vehicles.
Her love of cars eventually helped Mendelson connect with her husband, David, as the two bonded over their appreciation of music and cars. At some point, she said, they decided to start collecting the latter.
“In 2003, when my mother passed away, I bought my first car, the BMW Z8 Alpina Roadster, and to this day, it is my favorite car,” Mendelson said. “We have collected 16 cars, and everything we have collected, we drive, and we have never sold a car. We just got to a point where we were saving money all the time and not spending it, so we decided to use it on a passionate hobby we both had.”
For David, an orthopedic surgeon, cars are a piece of art. The two own a Morgan AeroMax, of which there were only 100 ever produced worldwide, so collecting rare vehicles is something special, he said.
“It didn’t start out like, ‘I want this car or that car,’ but some cars are so spectacular, and when you see something like the Morgan, and you have an opportunity to own one, how lucky can you be?” David asked. “Each one in and of itself is beautiful and are a delight to look at. They are more than just cars — they are a machine designed to perform a certain function, yet are developed in such a beautiful skin.
“It’s like going to a car show and you see this classic car and everyone is amazed and you imagine what it would be like to have bought that car from the factory and be the first person to own it in that time and era. That is what is going through my head and I want to buy cars like that now in the time I am living in.”
David’s love of cars also developed around a junkyard, where he worked on “junkers” with his brothers. But, to share a passion with his wife, and especially one that involves cars, he said he considers himself very lucky.
“It is every man’s dream,” David said. “Any of the cars we have, she got them and bought them, so I don’t have to explain myself. She is more enthusiastic than most and it has been terrific, a lot of fun for us, to start with this common interest. The more you have in common, the more fun life is and the more things you can do together, like go to a car show.”
Living in Michigan, Mendelson and her husband can’t drive some of their more exotic cars in the wintertime. Likewise, Mendelson said she doesn’t want to drive the Ferrari to the store, as there would be no room to put anything.
As Mendelson started to bring in more exotic cars, people who run auto shows caught wind of some of the rare vehicles and asked her to be part of a show. While she can’t always get to every one, Mendelson said she really enjoys being part of the automotive community.
“I like going to these shows because you see all these great cars, and you see people you’ve met several times and you make friends and meet new people,” she said. “It is like having a kid on stage at school; you have people coming by all day and really enjoying your car. It is like collecting rare coins, so people want to see them.”
If you start to have a conversation with Mendelson, chances are the talk will eventually turn to cars. Collecting cars isn’t about showing off to neighbors or being the envy of anyone, Mendelson said; it is just something a girl who grew up around cars loves doing.
“It is pretty unusual for a mom with two girls who lives in the suburbs and is involved with the schools to have this other side where I love cars,” she said. “Most men think I am so cool and I have guys always give me thumbs-up when they see me driving one of my cars. When I am talking about cars, it is like talking about my non-human kids.”