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Breast cancer fundraiser at Lingenfelter Collection

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Ever seen a 1,000-horsepower, four-turbocharger Bugatti Veyron in real life? How about the rare Lamborghini Reventon, named for a killer fighting bull, whose 660 horses can propel it from 0-to-60 in 3.3 seconds? Or the gas-electric Ferrari LaFerrari, with a hybrid motor that can top out at 217 mph?

Me neither. But this weekend is our chance.

Those dream autos and dozens more will be gawked at, sighed over and lusted after this Saturday in Brighton when The Lingenfelter Collection opens its doors to raise money for a very worthy cause.

Donations at the door will benefit the Pink Fund, a Michigan-based charity that provides up to 90 days of non-medical living expenses to patients in treatment for breast cancer.

Guests at the Lingenfelter open house may choose their own donation amount at the door — but when you do, keep the cause in mind. The Pink Fund (www.pinkfund.org) sponsored a survey that found 47 percent of women with breast cancer tapped their retirement account for out-of-pocket expenses, 26 percent put them on a credit card and 41 percent actually skipped treatment —including, for some, chemotherapy — due to financial difficulty.

The fund last year provided more than $671,000 last year to help patients with housing, transportation, utility bills and child care, easing at least a few worries for people with a lot on their minds.

“Breast cancer has touched just about everybody’s life at some point, including my own,” said Ken Lingenfelter, who owns the collection as well as a Wixom-based high-performance customizing shop and other automotive endeavors. From the very start of his 25-plus years as a collector, he said, he aimed to amass an array of exotic, classic and rare cars as an engine to generate philanthropic dollars. It’s his and his family’s way of channeling their passion for vehicles into the greater good.

“The mission for the collection has always been as a venue for charity,” said Lingenfelter. He and his family conduct several events per year, and the 40,000-square-foot facility is available for private charitable functions.

The Lingenfelter Collection is no musty museum. Three employees are kept busy maintaining the cars in display-worthy condition and — lucky them — exercising the autos on the open road. Some vehicles travel to shows and concours nationwide.

The collection is always in flux, with about a million dollars’ worth of vehicles each year moving in and out, Lingenfelter said. That keeps it fresh for repeat guests and exciting for its owners.

Roughly 30 percent of the collection is comprised of muscle cars, 30 percent exotics like the $1.5 million-plus Bugatti — and the rest mostly Corvettes. As the product of a “GM family,” the latter is dear to Lingenfelter’s heart and a big focus of the performance end of the business. (If you haven’t seen the YouTube video of their twin-turbo Corvette racing a military F-18 Hornet, just Google “lingenfelter corvette vs. f-18” — you might be surprised at which machine won the first quarter-mile!)

There’s also a sprinkling of more family-style autos like the AMC Gremlin, the Chevrolet Chevette and even a souped-up 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon.

“I’ve been a car guy since I was 4 or 5 years old and knew what cars were,” said Lingenfelter, who tagged along as a kid when his dad worked at the storied Fisher Body works in Detroit. “I like to think people will see the cars they grew up with as well as the exotics. The best part is watching people get excited when they do.”

Melissa Preddy is a Michigan-based freelance writer. Reach her via Melissa@MelissaPreddy.com

Cars for a cause

What: Fundraiser for the Pink Fund, which provides living expenses to patients in treatment for breast cancer.

Where: The Lingenfelter Collection of more than 150 classic and exotic cars, 7819 Lochlin Drive, Brighton.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Admission: No admission fee, but donations are requested.

Details: Light refreshments will be offered and food such as hot dogs available for purchase. A sketch artist, silent auction and other activities will run throughout the day.

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