By JIM FOX, Special to QMI Agency
Forget about “zoom, zoom,” Detroit is more like “beep, beep” in forever driving America forward.
The car culture continues to flourish in the “Motor City” more than a century since Henry Ford rolled out his first automobile, the 1896 Ford Quadricycle.
While always powered by the automotive industry, “The D” hasn’t forgotten its roots or future.
It pays homage to the car and what it means at The Henry Ford as well as numerous annual events such as the Concours d’Elegence and the Woodward Dream Cruise that remember the classics, relics and vintage species.
In the fast lane to what the future holds is the upcoming North American International Auto Show.
Shifting gears in Dearborn
You can view Ford’s Quadricycle as well as the 1865 Roper, the oldest surviving American car, and the 1896 Duryea, the last remaining example of America’s first production car at The Henry Ford museum in suburban Dearborn.
These exotic relics of the automotive past in the Driving America exhibit, called the “world's premier” automotive exhibition.
“This exhibit is about more than automobiles – it is about American culture and how much of it has been influenced by the automobile over the past 100-plus years,” said our tour guide, Matthew Anderson, curator of transportation.
While the exhibit “challenges us to think differently about what we drive,” there are 130 vehicles and many artifacts to explore.
There’s a “stellar and unprecedented collection” of notable century-old electric cars to old and new hybrids, muscle cars, racers and modern-day SUVs.
The exhibit features 20 focal areas that cover everything from hot rods and road trips to road food and racing.
There’s a 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41with fascinating information about its escape from Nazi Germany and a 1967 Ford Mark IV race car, the first all-American car and team to win at Le Mans.
A flashback was a convertible similar to my long-scrapped 1956 Chevrolet parked by an original McDonald’s golden arches sign and 1946 Lamy’s Diner serving up some retro grub.
The Driving America smart card allows visitors to store their experiences and digitally transfer a personalized compilation for online viewing later.
While there, visit the Ford Rouge Factory Tour to see F-150 trucks being made, the Benson Ford Research Center and the Henry Ford IMAX Theatre. www.thehenryford.org; (313) 982-6001
Get your motor running
Detroit’s the place to “kick the tires” on more than 500 new vehicles representing the innovations of today’s worldwide auto industry.
They’ll be gathered for inspection along with the unveiling of more than 50 new vehicles at the North American International Auto Show.
It takes place at Cobo Center (One Washington Blvd.) from Jan. 19 to 27 from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (until 7 p.m. on the final day) and attracts some 770,000 visitors.
Among the debuts are Bentley’s GT Speed Convertible; Shelby American with two new autos; the 2014 Corvette; BMW’s M6 Gran Coupe; the Cadillac ELR luxury coupe with plug-in-hybrid drivetrain; Honda’s small SUV concept; the 2014 Lexus IS; Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel; Toyota’s sporty Furia concept; the redesigned Maserati Quattroporte; Volkswagen’s seven-seat SUV concept; and Acura’s NSX.
Anyone wanting to be first to oggle and fondle the new models can attend the black tie Charity Preview next Friday (Jan. 18) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Gala tickets are $300 US ($290 tax deductible) with proceeds benefiting children’s charities. Call 1-888-838-7500.
Show tickets are $12 US; $6, seniors/children, seven to 12 (younger, no charge). www.naias.com; (248) 643-0250
To plan a Detroit getaway: www.visitdetroit.com; 1-800- DETROIT
Tying in with the auto show are Detroit Automotive and Brewery History Tours on Jan. 19 and 26 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Motor City Brew Tours and Show Me Detroit Tours offer a 3.5-hour bus tour including stops at the Ford Piquette plant (birthplace of the Model T), the Packard plant and brewery and dairy operations at the Traffic Jam and Snug Restaurant in midtown.
Tours start and end across from Cobo Center outside the Detroit Fire Department. Tickets are $39.95 US. www.MotorCityBrewTours.com; (248) 850-2563
This story was posted on Sat, January 12, 2013
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