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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Glitz in gear at the Charity Preview gala of the North American Auto Show in Detroit

   One-Tank Trip published on Jan. 7/8, 2012

   (c) By Jim Fox

   DETROIT – It’s glitz in gear as the “new car smell” will permeate Cobo Center packed for a soiree to admire and even fondle the latest models.
   Yes, it's like prom night for big kids at the Charity Preview of the North American International Auto Show next Friday (Jan. 13).
Models displaying the latest models add to the glitz at the Charity Preview of the North American International Auto Show. (Jim Fox photo)
   The “Motor City” is on a roll again and gaining momentum after stalling out for a few years with the auto industry in disarray, so it’s time to party again.
   The high-society event is a prelude to the show’s public days that run from Jan. 14 to 22 and feature more than 500 new cars and trucks.
   “We are seeing a decidedly upbeat industry,” with gala ticket sales up 20 per cent, said chairman Bill Perkins.
   More than 12,000 people will pay $250 US each to attend the black-tie affair as the festive merrymakers make an evening of it -- many arriving in limousines and heading out for a night of partying afterwards.
Writer Jim Fox tries out a new Jaguar convertible at the North American International Auto Show. (Barbara Fox photo)

   The event has raised more than $84 million for Southeastern Michigan children's charities since 1976 and is “one of our biggest social and charitable events of the year,” said Larry Alexander, president and ceo of the Metro Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau.
   "It's the place to see and be seen for anyone connected in any way to the auto industry," he added.

   Putting on the glitz
   From 6 to 9 p.m., the glittering tuxedo-clad and ball-gowned attendees strut their stuff, sliding behind the wheel of the vehicles, most of which are locked during the public days.
   This includes everything from a BMW Mini Cooper Coupe priced at $22,000, to the flashy Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe at $452,000 and a Maserati Gran Turismo Convertible Sport worth $142,800.
Hall and Oates were among the surprise entertainers at a North American International Auto Show Charity Preview. (Jim Fox photo)
   They’ll sip champagne, wash down hors d'oeuvres and be entertained by surprise entertainers that have previously included Celine Dion, Hall and Oates, the Barenaked Ladies and the Doobie Brothers.
   Crowds gather around the Jaguars with lines forming beside the convertible model, with many partygoers waiting to get their picture taken behind the wheel.
A popular attraction at the Detroit auto show is the Maserati line-up. (Barbara Fox photo)
   The sleek Bentleys, Mercedes and BMW models, quick-paced Porsches, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, snappy Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, Acuras and Audis along with Volkswagens and Volvos, Aston Martins, Land Rovers and even Hummers share space with the North American offerings.
   Detroit-based automakers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are coming on strong with their new offerings including eco-friendly cars and hybrids.
   There will be an enlarged area for newly designed Lincolns including a prototype of a redesign for the MKZ mid-sized sedan.
   Partygoers’ "winning looks" are satin evening gowns with off-the-shoulder necklines edged in fur, among the sleek, fitted gowns.
   Most men are adorned in traditional black tie attire with some multi-coloured bow ties and cummerbunds, traditional neckties in shiny metallic shades, embroidered and rhinestone-studded vests and auto-themed shirt studs and ties.
Even the dogs on patrol wear their gala finery for the Charity Preview of North American International Auto Show. (Jim Fox photo)
   More than 10,000 bottles of champagne are consumed while some 800 limousines and 150 buses transport the merry crowd to Cobo and away to party on into the night at some 40 "after-glow" celebrations at restaurants, hotels, clubs and casinos.

   Mark your calendars
   The nine-day show starting on Jan. 14 in the expanded Cobo is North America’s largest car event attracting about 750,000 people.
The gala Charity Preview is the place to get up close and personal with the latest models at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (Jim Fox photo)
   There will be about 40 new vehicle unveilings including Ford’s 2013 Shelby GT500 convertible with a 5.8-litre, 650-horsepower supercharged V8, and Chrysler’s 200 Super S by Mopar.
   Exhibiting manufacturers include: Acura, AMG, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, CODA Automotive, Dodge, Falcon Motor Sports, Fiat, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Maybach, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Scion, Shelby American, Smart, SRT, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, Vehicle Production Group, Volkswagen and Volvo.

   If you go:
   Cobo Centre is at 1 Washington Blvd. After exiting the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, turn left at Jefferson and drive straight ahead, with parking in nearby lots.
   Show hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., except until 7 p.m. on last day, Jan 22.
   Tickets are $12 US; $6, seniors/children, seven to 12; free, six and younger that are available on-line and at the door.
   Charity Preview tickets: www.charitypreview.com; 1-888-838-7500
   Show website: www.naias.com; (248) 643-025
   Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau: www.visitdetroit.com; 1-800-DETROIT.


   Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

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