Get Your Motor Runnin’ at These Metro Detroit Auto Attractions & Events
D.etroit was without its marquee automobile gala, the North American International Auto Show, has closed since its 30th annual iteration in January 2019. This January brought the news that the series will last at least until next year. But Detroit wouldn’t be Motor City if there was only one place to see cars. Here are some other great auto attractions and events, whether you prefer speed, historical pieces, or the latest and greatest.
Driven to victory: racing in America
C.courtesy The Henry Ford
Where: Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Dearborn
The Henry Ford Museum’s newest permanent exhibition, presented by General Motors, is also the largest public collection of racing memorabilia in the country. The 24,000 square meter room is filled with objects that illuminate the development of racing and its gifts to the world, such as the rearview mirror. The 29 cars on display range from automobiles designed by Henry Ford to the latest viral video sensations from the Gymkhana series. For a surcharge, guests can even put themselves in real racing conditions by turning in one of the professionals’ driver’s seat simulators.
More information is available at thehenryford.org.
Driven by design
When: Spring 2021
Where: The Ford House, Grosse Pointe Shores
April marked the premiere of a highly anticipated new visitor center in the former home of Edsel and Eleanor Ford. The opening exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to see three extremely rare vehicles in one compilation for the first time. The product range includes a Ford Model 18 Speedster from 1932, a Ford Model 40 Special Speedster from 1934 and the world’s only prototype of the Lincoln Continental from 1939. The trio of cars is just one of the showpieces of the largest construction project at Ford House since the mansion was completed on See in 1928.
Visit fordhouse.org for more information.
Motor city car crawl
When: August 5-August. 8th
Where: Downtown Detroit
With GM World closed until further notice, the best chance to see fleets of the latest cars, trucks and SUVs downtown is during this four-day festival spread across six large central city parks. A range of vehicles selected from among the 185 members of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association will connect Beacon Park, Cadillac Square, Campus Martius, Capitol Park, Grand Circus Park and Spirit Plaza with food and entertainment. Participation in the car crawl is free on most days. On August 7th, however, a ticket fundraising campaign promises a “significant headliner that everyone knows,” said DADA Executive Director Rod Alberts.
Visit naias.com for more information.
Automobile Hall of Fame
This Dearborn auto attraction is dedicated to the human visionaries who shaped the automotive industry, but there are also a few cars on display. The permanent collection houses some of the earliest motorized vehicles, alongside Honda racing cars from the 1960s and old big rigs from the trucking industry. Be sure to appreciate the world changing genius behind the ignition key as you test your strength by turning on an old fashioned jalopy.
More information is available at www.automobilhalloffame.org.
Concours d’Elegance of America
Courtesy of the Concours d’Elegance of America
When: 23-25 July July
Where: The Inn at St. John’s, Plymouth
This upscale classic car showcase is now under the management of the Hagerty Group, the world’s largest insurer of classic cars and wooden boats. The new team wants to redesign the prestigious event by spicing up its digital offerings and attracting a younger audience. The official judging takes place on the last day of the show, while the lead-up days are filled with activities not to be missed, such as putting clubs to the acid test.
Please visit concoursusa.com for more information.
Woodward Dream Cruise
When: August 21
Where: Woodward Avenue, Oakland County
The Woodward Dream Cruise, considered the world’s largest one-day automobile event, demonstrates thousands of classic cars along a groundbreaking street in Detroit. The action starts in Ferndale and rolls to Pontiac before doubling back. Spectators line the entire route, with the intersection at 9 Mile being one of the most popular spots. Participation in the procession is free and open to everyone, including those whose cars are younger than the latest iPhone model. Only avoid the two right-hand lanes closest to the curb, which are reserved for classic cars.
More information is available at www.woodwarddreamcruise.com.
When: 21.-26. September
Where: M1 hall, Pontiac
The main replacement for the North American International Auto Show 2021 will be billed as a “bridge to the future” that dispenses with many of the typical auto show trinkets and stands out in favor of a more dynamic event in a carnival-like atmosphere. The six-day event will be entirely outdoors and will include a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) route for demonstrations of the latest technology. Note that the first two days are reserved for industrial workers.
More information is available at www.motorbella.com.
Roush Automotive Collection
Courtesy of the Roush Automotive Collection
Jack Rosch is as close to a living legend as he is in automotive circles, having founded a number of racing and auto accessory companies, including his own NASCAR team. His ancestry in trophies, technology, equipment and of course the cars themselves can be seen on a 30,000 square meter facility in Livonia. The privately owned collection is open to the public year round, but it is highly recommended that you plan ahead to visit this auto attraction.
More information is available at www.roushcollection.com.
When: 25-26 September
Where: Holly Oaks ORV Park, Holly
This off-road event coincides with the last two days of the nearby Motor Bella and is aimed at those who prefer to put cars to the test and see more than just a little bit dirty. Hundreds of professional and amateur riders compete against the makeshift mountain terrain at this free event. The recent increased attention of automakers to jeeps, trucks, and other off-road vehicles bodes well for those onlookers seeking a glimpse of what is to come.
More information is available at 4festevents.com.
American speed festival
When: Sept. 30 – Oct. 3
Where: M1 hall, Pontiac
A new event modeled after the UK’s inaugural Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Motor Bella bangs. While mainstream cars and SUVs are the focus of Motor Bella, the American Speed Festival celebrates classic and exotic cars. This year’s event is themed Cam Am Racers and begins with a full-day dine and drive tour that includes a tour of 150 cars in a private, mostly banned collection. The 2.4 km long racetrack is at the heart of the celebrations and ensures that the event is not limited to stationary showpieces.
More information is available at www.americanspeedfestival.com.
Stahl’s Auto Foundation
Few auto preservers can match the laser focus of this nonprofit that highlights the engineering milestones that have fueled the rise of the auto industry. It’s a journey that starts inside the foundation with 19th-century stagecoaches and goes all the way to the sports cars of the late 1960s. Vehicles from the time of the Great Depression and Art Deco are particularly well represented. Stahl’s also shows separately a collection of self-playing music machines from the early 20th century.
Further information is available at www.stahlsauto.com.