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In the digital age, 'car-parazzi' kids chase down exotic autos

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Spyder Dobrofsky, his younger brother, and four friends tumbled out of his mother's Ford Explorer on a recent Sunday in Beverly Hills, sprinting down Rodeo Drive, video cameras in hand.

It didn't take them long to find what they were looking for: ``Oh, Turbo! Porsche 911 Turbo!" said Spyder, 14, lifting his camera.

Another boy shouted from behind, ``Bentley! Bentley! Flying Spur!"

Before they could capture the four-door luxury sedan, another member of the team spotted a dark gray Aston Martin Vanquish. The gangly boys in baggy T-shirts ran after the $240,000 car and found it parked at an eyeglass store. They surrounded the vehicle, each boy holding a camera. In silence, they paced around the auto, bending down to catch the grill, rims, lights, and even the winged emblem on the hood. At that moment, the car's owner -- in dark sunglasses and a white polo shirt -- came on the scene. After a double take, Jacob Abikzer, 31, smiled, and the boys continued their filming.

``They remind me of myself when I was their age," Abikzer said.

Spyder and his cohorts have become leading chroniclers of West LA's exotic car world. Here, the finest European sports cars -- Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Porsches -- abound, thanks to a critical mass of celebrity, glitz, and free-spending men in midlife crises. Some of them cost more than $1 million.

For most car watchers, the hobby is about snapping a few photos with a cellphone camera. But Spyder and friends shoot videos and post them at www.exoticspotter.com, www.streetfire.net, and other websites where enthusiasts offer their latest sightings.

Until recently, the exploits of Spyder and his crew were known only among car-spotters. But in February, Swedish businessman Bo Stefan Eriksson crashed a rare Ferrari Enzo on Pacific Coast Highway, making headlines. Spyder became part of the story: He had videotaped Eriksson and other parts of his exotic car collection weeks before the crash. And he and the crew were in Beverly Hills in April when police pulled over Eriksson's wife in a rare Mercedes and confiscated the vehicle. His footage suddenly became hot property.

``CNN and others called and asked for Spyder," recalls his mother, Tippi Dobrofsky. ``And I said, `This is his mom.' They were like, `His mom?' "

It started with a video game, Sega GT, a racing simulator where gamers get behind the wheels of such cars as Alfa Romeos. The boys learned to appreciate the exotics from there. Then they'd sit on the porch in the Dobrofskys' Santa Monica home and shoot digital photos of fancy cars. At first, a Corvette would suffice. But in this neighborhood, even Bentleys are a dime a dozen. Now, ``We only film it if it's worth over $200,000," said Spyder's 9-year-old brother, Dash.

With Paul Bogosian and another longtime friend, Brandon Nelson, the brothers will climb trees to film cars from above. They'll bicycle to a new location to capture the same car from a different angle.

``We'll be in math class and I'll laugh because we hear a car go by and Spyder will turn around and say ``S430," said Bogosian, 14, a member of Spyder's crew, which calls itself and a website they've designed ``Car-parazzi."

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