My Car Quest

November 27, 2021

The EyesOn Design Car Show in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan

by Robert Musial –

More than 250 of the world’s best-looking and most interesting vehicles assembled for the EyesOn Design car show in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan on September 19, 2021.

Iso Rivolta GT

1965 Iso Rivolta GT owned by John R. Gailey III

Now in its 34th year, EyesOn Design has been named one of America’s top five car shows by USA Today and “one of the best car events worldwide” by Car & Driver magazine. The New York Times noted that it was “one of the rare concours to focus on design rather than collectability.”

Ghia 450SS

1967 Ghia 450SS owned by Wes and Karol Spyrshak

The show continued its tradition of honoring automotive design in a setting that is also a homage to design – the grounds of the historic lakeside mansion of Edsel Ford, who elevated his father’s namesake company by helping create such legendary cars as the Model A, the 1932 Ford and the 1939 Lincoln Continental.

Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada

1967 Bizzarrini GT 5300 Strada owned by Billy and Tisa Hibbs

Keeping with its origin, the show’s judging is done by active and retired exterior and interior designers from the leading automotive and supplier companies.

AMC AMX/3

1969 AMC AMX/3 owned by Rick Biafora

The theme picked for this year’s show was “Marques of Extinction: Significant Designs of Bygone Brands.” Besides brands that are no longer in production, the show highlighted early sports and luxury cars, the Big Three classics of the 1950s and 1960s, muscle cars and exotic European touring and sports cars of a more recent vintage.

Among the stand-outs was a 1961 Dual Ghia L6.4 prototype that 60 years ago had a list price of $13,500, the equivalent of $118,000 today – if one were even available at that price.

The event also featured a collection of one-of-a-kind General Motors design studies for today’s mid-engine Corvette, a handful of Ford concept cars and, seen for the first time in North America, the Hyundai Prophecy concept car.

There was also a round-up of significant Studebakers – including the poster car, Dick Teague’s Packard Predictor. There was also an appearance by Sandra Studebaker, an eighth-generation member of the family who proudly exhibited her 1962 “Lady Lark,” restored by her son.

Triumph Italia

1960 Triumph Italia 2000 Sports Coupe owned by Harlan Schufeldt

As always, one of the show’s most popular categories was the “stock to rock” class that showcases restored stock models next to their customized cousins.

Another special entry this year was the gleaming Dream Roadster, an open-topped tribute inspired by a young boy’s favorite Hot Wheels toy car. The roadster was hand-crafted from at least seven cars, including such extinct brands as Corvair. Pontiac and Studebaker.

To round things out, the show also included a display of classic motorcycles, among them a very sharp 1930 Excelsior Super X Streamliner and a 1935 DKW S8 200.

This year’s show represented a return to normality with vehicles displayed across the spacious meadow in front of the Ford House.

During the height of last year’s COVID crisis, the organizers managed to pull off two of the only outdoor car events in Michigan – by having a parade of 200 invitation-only vehicles drive by judges stationed in front of the home, while hundreds of spectators lined Lake Shore Drive in the upscale Detroit suburb to see the cars entering and leaving the estate.

Bitter

1984 Bitter SC Coupe owned by Ken Lingenfelter

Also shown was last year’s Sunday Drive “People’s Choice” award winner, a cute little 1961 Citroen 2CV, boldly sporting a Peter Max-style psychedelic paint job that dated back to the 1970s.

And dotting the meadow were fondly-remembered marques like Austin Healey, Chrysler Imperial, Cord, Hupmobile, Kaiser Darrin, Mercury, MG, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and many others.

One other unique feature of the show? A category of cars that were graded by touch by vison-impaired judges wearing white gloves – a nod to the event being a fundraiser for the non-profit Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology.

Monteverdi

1971 Monteverdi 375L High Speed 2+2 Coupe owned by Bob Lutz

Related events included a 75-mile driving tour of southeastern Michigan on Sept. 17 that ended at a private car collector’s garage.

Also, on Sept. 21, the annual EyesOn Design Awards honoring the best designs of a recently-debuted production car, concept car, vehicle interior and the best use of color and materials were handed out at the Motor Bella outdoor car show at a private racetrack in Pontiac, Michigan. That event filled in for the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which had been canceled because of COVID.

As in the past, those cars were judged that day by a specially-assembled group of current and former automotive designers and specialists.

Winning three of the awards was Volvo’s electric car brand Polestar while the new Ford Bronco took the honors for best production car debut.

THE AUTHOR: Robert Musial has been a reporter, editor and columnist in Detroit.

EyesOn Design Logo

All photos by Don Woods.
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The EyesOn Design Car Show in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
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The EyesOn Design Car Show in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
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EyesOn Design has been named one of America’s top five car shows by USA Today and “one of the best car events worldwide” by Car & Driver magazine. The New York Times noted that it was “one of the rare concours to focus on design rather than collectability.”
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Comments

  1. Right up my alley – all of the pictured marques. So now I know they are called “Marques of Extinction” – makes total sense. And as an owner of several of these I can declare that the lack of quality and excitement was never the reasons for their extinction.

  2. wallace wyss says

    I would like to know if many of the European exotics displayed there are owned by car designers employed by the Big Three. When I was in Detroit in the ’60s, some car designers like Hank Haga owned a Ferrari and a gullwing but did not drive them to work so as not to look “disloyal” to the brand they work for. There was almost an underground of exotic car owners in Detroit. Now it looks like they are proud to show their discoveries.

    • Glen Durmisevich says

      Car designers, probably more than others, appreciate the designs of European exotics. Many do own not only exotics but all sorts of collector cars. None of these were on display this year at the EyesOn Design, although we’d do host them as needed. Instead we strive to invite cars from private owners across the country that are rarely seen. The fun part is having the designers judge them using typical design criteria. Leads to some interesting winners.

  3. stephen turkfeld says

    this is going to sound like a stupid question. it seems like car makers know how to make beautiful automobiles. so why do they make mostly ugly cars. why can’t most cars be this beautiful and practical. underneath some of these cars are very plain, very boring cars. thanks

  4. wallace wyss says

    That;s the eternal question, Maybe they spoke on that at the concours (Did they have seminars like Pebble?) But I suspect it’s largely dependent on budget, the Ford Fiesta is costed down to the penny but the current Ford GT is I heard over $500,000 so all avenues are explored and every option o=considered (including carbon fiber body components).

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