Steve Mraovic: Ridden on the Wall

  • story by David M. Brown
  • posted on 02/2011
  • posted in: Great Garages

When Steve Mraovic was a young man, he hung posters of cars he wanted on his walls.

Today, he parks those cars in his Paradise Valley garage.

Born in Chicago, he graduated from high school and college there. He moved to Arizona a decade ago. “The weather is great, and I have relatives here,” Steve says. “To me, being in Arizona, every day feels like a vacation.”

“As a car enthusiast,” Steve adds, “I thought the Valley was the perfect place, as I can enjoy my cars all year and not only a few months out the year, as I did in Chicago.”

His love affair with great cars began early — in the era of American muscle and also because his uncle worked for Mercedes-Benz. “While they were working on cars, I was always there with them, under their feet, being the kid that always had the screwdriver in hand wanting to help.”

Steve would look forward to the Chicago Auto Show, hoping to see a new Lamborghini or Ferrari, in particular: “Back then, those cars were so truly rare and were not as highly produced as they are today.”

During the ‘80s, his father and uncle took him to Europe to see European performance cars. He drove the Autobahn and the Autostrada: “There’s mostly no speed limit on both, and you really got an appreciation for European vehicles and what they were designed for.”

At the time, he bought his first Porsche, a 930 Turbo, driving it through Europe, then shipping it back home to the U.S. Since, he has attained the good fortune of owning many Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Mercedes and Corvettes.

Today, the businessman enjoys his success, his cars and two girls, who help him out in the garage: “At 6 and 3, they already know the different makes and models of exotic cars,” Steve notes with a laugh.

During the weekends, he enjoys coffee with good friends and fellow enthusiasts. They participate in Scottsdale Cars & Coffee, a group which he helped found with a few friends at Gainey Village. The event now attracts more than 200 cars the first Saturday of every month. Steve explains that the event has grown so fast and furious, its gathering of exotic and muscle cars has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Speed TV.

Formerly, he was the Ferrari Club of America Desert Region’s regional director and is now a founding member of Scuderia Southwest, what he calls a “noncar club” car club: “I enjoy the company of other car enthusiasts and truly appreciate the fine autos that were created to be enjoyed and driven,” he says.

The club hosts several high profile car events annually. The next is the Annual Arizona Festival of Speed held at Windgate Ranch March 26, 2011. “We have raised thousands of dollars for the 100 Club of Arizona,” Steve says. “Our motto is and has always been ‘100 percent of all the proceeds will be donated!’”

His is a working garage with room for eight cars and features a lift. Steve: “I really take care of my cars and I like to be more of a hands-on owner rather than just a driving owner. With my previous background in the automotive industry, I am fortunate enough to be able to do all the repairs and work on my cars myself — everything from a routine service to a full-on restoration.”

In Steve’s words, here are how the pictures came down off the walls and pasted on the asphalt:

•1982 Lamborghini Countach LP400S — “This was the most photographed car in automotive history and is the original supercar. It was the first poster I ever had hanging on my wall as a kid, dreaming of one day sitting in one, let alone owning one! A neighbor brought it over for me to look at. While there, the car decided not to start, which I took as a godsend that it was basically meant to be mine because it didn’t want to leave my house. I bought the car on the spot and drove my neighbor back home.”

•1998 Lamborghini Diablo SVGT — “For me, it was another one of those cars that I had dreamed about owning one day! This lightweight performance model of the Diablo is lighter than the standard Diablos by using an abundance of carbon fiber, and it has a V-12 with higher horsepower and wider track to increase performance and aggressiveness.”

•1973 Lamborghini Jarama GTS — “Also V-12 powered, it’s one of only 150 built. I like the fact that it has two small rear seats so I can put my girls in it — my version of the family Lamborghini. I couldn’t pass this one up; it’s very rare to come by one that has only 6,000 original miles.”

•1977 Porsche 935 DP — “Another one of my poster cars. I purchased this one in Beverly Hills while I was there on a mini-vacation. To me, it was the ultimate Porsche turbo of the era, with a higher horsepower engine, wider body, better suspension and lighter weight than other models. Plus: It was owned by one of my favorite rock stars, Rod Stewart, making that an extra bonus!

“As I was driving to the transport company to drop off the car, I just couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car. It felt so comfortable and drove so well that I just kept driving. Next thing I know, I’m in Las Vegas, then Denver, and finally home to Chicago, with not a problem the whole way. It was one of the most scenic and memorable drives I have ever done.”

•1984 Ferrari 512 BBi — “This is another poster car and the arch rival of the Lamborghini Countach. Only about 75 of these are in the United States today, and this one is one of the last five built. It features a flat-12 Formula 1-derived engine. To me this is one of the sexiest Ferrari’s ever built, and I purchased this because it looks great and, as I said, it was also a poster car of mine. And, it won a Platinum award at the 2007 Concorso Arizona.”

•2002 Porsche 911 Twin Turbo — “Originally, I was a hard-core fan of the air-cooled turbo Porsches and very reluctant to have a water-cooled turbo until my friend Todd purchased one. After driving his, it gave me a new-found appreciation on how well Porsche builds cars; hence, I had to go out and purchase one. I enjoy driving it on trips to California and Vegas. It’s very comfortable and extremely fast; plus, it has room for the kiddies in the back if needed.” 

•2008 Corvette Z06 — “Here’s the oddball of the bunch! Basically this one caught my attention when I was watching the show Ultimate Factories. I decided I wanted one at that point, so I special ordered it, went to the factory and watched them build it. I even got to drive it off the assembly line.”

Nowadays for Steve Mraovic, one ride is worth a thousand pictures.