August 16, 2012 at 1:00 am

Mayer Hawthorne's driven by the details

1970 Mercedes Benz 280se )

Retro soul singer Mayer Hawthorne, whose two albums "A Strange Arrangement" (2009) and "How Do You Do" (2011) represent a modern take on the classic Motown sound, is known for his taste in cool kicks and sharp suits.

A typical gear head he is not, but that doesn't mean the Ann Arbor-raised crooner — real name Andrew Cohen — doesn't appreciate a nice set of wheels as much as the next Motor City native.

We talked to Hawthorne, who will perform a DJ set at this weekend's Motors & Music Experience at the Pontiac Silverdome, about his favorite cars, his automobile memories and what gets his motor running.

What was your first car?

My first car was a 1991 Ford Taurus. It was a total (junker), but I kept it clean though.

What car or cars did your parents have when you were growing up? What do you remember about them?

My dad owned a hardware and auto parts store, and he drove a '71 El Camino. He was pretty much the coolest dude/dad ever.

What is your favorite classic car?

When I graduated from college, my grandmother gave me her old Mercedes Benz 280se, which she bought new off the lot in 1970. It had a straight 6 and a power sunroof (the first of its kind). It looked like something the bad guy in James Bond would drive.

What is your favorite modern car?

The new Audi A7 is hard to beat (sorry, America).

What kind of car do you drive now?

I still drive the same Mazda SUV that I moved to Los Angeles with in 2006, when I was flat broke and didn't even know where I would live. It's a great car, and it keeps me humble. Plus, I'm always on tour so I don't drive very often anyhow.

What do you look for in a car? What are the most important features?

It's all about the details. You can have the newest, most exclusive, dopest looking whip; but if (it) don't have the right kinda cup holder, or if the door handle is in an awkward spot, it's gonna (upset) you every day.

agraham@detnews.com

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Retro soul singer Mayer Hawthorne, who hails from Ann Arbor, is known for ... (Anna Webber / Getty Images)