Isabelle “Izzie” Merey is an avid car enthusiast with a passion for classic automobiles. She parlayed her love for cars into a TV series sizzle reel, “Operation: Drive By”, a TV and web reality series. Izzie heads onto the highways of America, driving cross-country to destinations so unique that it merits an equally special classic car to make the road trip complete – a pristine cherry red 1973 Corvette Stingray named ‘Vanessa Darling’. Izzie and Vanessa were seen cruising together in the 82nd Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade this year.
Izzie isn’t just a driver behind the wheel, attending auto shows all over the world to see the latest trends and the most exotic cars. Heads turn weekly as she rolls in with her Stingray at Bob’s Big Boy Friday night car show in Los Angeles, where gear heads gather to share their passion for classic cars at the oldest Bob’s Big Boy in America.
Her first induction into the automobile world was through her father, learning to drive stick shift at the age of 15. She would sit with him and watch the F-1 and Grand Prix together, fanaticizing about their dream cars together. She has since become a certified defensive driver, teaching others these useful skills. Her auto expertise led Izzie to work as a test and delivery driver for a Beverly Hills exotic car import firm.
Izzie explains her fascination and love of cars as, “…a way of life. They bring people together and signify adventure and new beginnings. It is a known fact that cars are the number one most mass-produced machines in the world, yet so many people develop such an emotional connection to them. They also stand for history and art. The way I really take in a car might be compared to the way an artist looks to their muse for inspiration. I aspire to find out about the story behind every car and its owner. This is why I particularly love classics.”
Born and raised on the island of Cyprus, Izzie and her two rescue dogs (Nola and Roxy) live in Southern California. She is expanding her skillset by starting pilot lessons for small single engine planes in the coming new year. Izzie keeps herself physically active outdoors through hiking and horseback riding, as well as mentally fit reading as often possible. She works closely with charities such as OXFAM and UNICEF, looking into pairing up with more children’s organizations such as Make-A-Wish and Share for kids.
You can keep up with Izzie on Twitter & Instagram @TheOnlyIzzie or Facebook (Facebook.com/OperationDriveBy).
Cimone: Hi Izzie it’s a pleasure being able to talk to you. So cars… they’re your passion, when and how did the fascination start?
Izzie: Pleasure is all mine! It started when I would watch the European Rally come through Cyprus (where I was born and raised.) The first time I heard one of those juiced up engines come roaring through my town is something I won’t ever forget.
Cimone: You currently have a show “Operation: Drive By” where you drive across the country in a classic car…tell me more about your show.
Izzie: I do, it is in development at the moment. The series is based around many different cars, some classic some modern exotics. While I can’t give away the whole concept I can tell you this is going to be a car show that really..break every barrier…
Cimone: Did you ever imagine your love for cars would parlay into a TV/Web reality series?
Izzie: You know what, I’m a big believer in the “no dream is too big a dream” theory. Imagination is the mother of invention, to me. Honestly I don’t think I would have any of this had I not fantasized about it every day 🙂
Cimone: I know you’re also a model…would you say you love modeling just as much as cars?
Izzie: Absolutely! It’s so much fun but at the same time a very challenging gig. People think: “Oh you’re just a model” without realizing the hours you put in are just like any other job.
Cimone: Now Izzie you’ve actually worked as a test and delivery driver for Beverly Hills exotic car firm. WOW that’s pretty cool. What would you say has been your most exciting project you’ve done when it comes to classic cars?
Izzie: Thanks! Honestly the most exciting project has been the 1973 Stingray I am always seen driving around in! We (my mechanic and I) have put so much love into her in the last six months. From rebuilding the carburetor, to fixing the transmission, repairing oil leaks, getting new valves put it, replacing the rear differential. I mean, it’s been quite the project! I’m very pleased to say she runs great now!!
Cimone: As if beauty and knowledge for cars isn’t enough you’re also starting pilot lessons. Did you figure you knew everything there is to know about the ground and decided it’s time to expand your knowledge base in the air?
Izzie: First, thanks for the compliment 🙂 Second – no, I definitely don’t know everything there is to know about cars haha. It’s a constant learning process. The reason I’m exploring the world of aviation is because I’m a speed junkie and I’ve found that driving at 160mph is cool and all but I’m ready to fly a small plane so I can live out a new experience from within the cockpit.
Cimone: You work very closely with two particular charities, OXFAM and UNICEF. What do these charities mean to you?
Izzie: I will be doing a lot more work for both this year and I’m really excited about it. So, UNICEF I have been supporting since I was a child together with my whole family. It’s a Foundation that I grew up with so it’s close to the heart. When I was little, I was taught to be thoughtful of kids my age across the globe who would never have what I did. My family was a modest, hard working family, mind you. Nothing came easy but still we found a way to give back. I heard of OXFAM only after moving to the States and was hooked because they always come up with some very creative ways to encourage people to be more giving.
Cimone: In this world it can be hard especially for women to find their passion. You’re so accomplished and passionate about cars… if you could give one piece of advice to women looking to accomplish a goal what would it be?
Izzie: To stand your ground and use the one thing we have that men don’t; I’m talking about our feminine intuition!
Cimone: Nicely said! Let everyone know where they can view your show and keep up with what you’re doing.
Izzie: I’m on twitter @theonlyizzie but my main thing is Facebook so come say hello to me there!
Cimone: Thank you so much for talking with me and keep doing your thing!
Izzie: Thank you! I loved all your questions!