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Riding in style

By Keegan Prosser on August 29, 2013 – No Comment


Michael Sanders remembers exactly when and how his love for cars began.

As a youngster in Tigard, Ore., Sanders coveted his family’s 1930 Model A with childlike curiosity. By age 12, he could no longer resist temptation, driving the car to school much to the chagrin of the overseeing nuns and his own parents.

“They called my parents and made them come get the car,” he said.

Nearly 60 years later, and after having bought and sold dozens of classic and collectable cars, Sanders is just as passionate about autos and part of a dedicated and tuned-in market for exotic, collectable and high-end luxury cars on the Eastside.

For him and many others, it starts in Bellevue at Park Place LTD.

After finding the specialty dealership as a buyer and working with them for the next decade to satisfy his whim for unique autos, Sanders took a job in the consignment department about two years ago. And he is just one of many staffers who began as a customer.

Jared Lowell, who has been at Park Place for 11 years, said the Eastside’s demographics and the influx of technically savvy buyers in the market make it the epicenter of the Northwest’s luxury, exotic car community.

“We are committed to carrying interesting cars,” he said. “We try to have cars that are going to appeal to car enthusiast buyers, because we are enthusiasts and we love cars.”

While Park Place deals on the secondary auto market, culling its inventory of rare, vintage and high-performance sports cars from private sellers, consignments and dealerships, Bellevue is also home to a Porsche dealership and one specializing in Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini.

Yet some of the Eastside’s most exotic cars, which can’t be found in any dealership, begin downtown – at Tesla Bellevue Square. Here, customers hand-select each custom feature for their car, providing what store manager Lance Merkin calls, “a third generation of driving.”

“It is kind of like getting used to HDTV,” he said. “You don’t know how good it is until you use it, and once you do, you don’t want to watch regular TV anymore.”

Tesla’s Model S has a pair of battery options, with the larger 85 kWh size offering an estimated range of 300 miles at 55 MPH and a top speed of 125. The price for the crossover-styled Model X is not even available (Tesla says it will be priced comparably to a Model S), but photos of the winged-doors and a tablet-like instrumental panel offers a preview of the not-so-distant future.

“The idea of not paying for gasoline is a huge plus,” Merkin said. “The convenience of always waking up with a full tank.”

In addition to home and road charging kits, Tesla is in the process of building a network of its “Superchargers”-which it boasts can fully charge a car in 30 minutes-across the country and in Canada, with completion scheduled for 2015.

While you won’t find Teslas or these other exotic and high-end cars parked in the average driveway, take a closer look around any Eastside neighborhood and you can get a glimpse into the truly rare.