GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich. — The 29th EyesOn Design Automotive Design Exhibition was held on Fathers Day, June 19, 2016. This is not just another car show. This show stands apart from the rest and brings together cars of world-class design quality. “Powered by Design” was this year’s theme. It is all about design and beauty and conveys power and performance.
One of the cars that caught my attention was the 1942 Cadillac Series 67. This vehicle was purchased by a widow of a World War I surgeon. During World War II, she donated it to the U.S. Armed Forces. It was painted olive green for camouflage purposes. The car was used during General Eisenhower’s tenure. The Hydramatic transmission was ineffective in mud and snow, so another 1942 Cadillac was ordered for Ike. The new car with a three-speed transmission proved to be more roadworthy and it became Ike’s primary transport vehicle. Only 260 of these vehicles were produced, since automotive production was ceased in February 1942, so plants can switch to war manufacturing.
There was a display of “On the Road, Again: Fifty years of vintage camping rigs and trailers, 1914-1964.” As automobiles became affordable and within the reach of average Americans, millions took to the road determined to “See America First.” From the earliest motor campers to the development of the roadside tourist camp, camping rigs and trailers evolved as they were outfitted with all the comforts of home. One particular camping rig that caught my eye was the 1938 International tow vehicle. This was a custom-made, one of a kind vehicle built solely for towing. The car is a 1938 custom D-Line cab and chassis with a shortened wheelbase. A four-speed transmission gets the power to the dual wheels through a two-speed rear end. The car would seat seven persons, the windows had pull-down blinds and the six-foot long rear seat opened out to form a double bed. The coupled length of the combined unit (car and trailer) is 35 feet and weighs five tons.
There also was a “Pure Michigan: Made in Kalamazoo” display which was home to some of the earliest manufacturers of automobiles in the United States, starting in 1902 with the Bartt Manufacturing Company. Some others were Blood Brothers Auto & Machine Company, the Michigan Automobile Company, the Michigan Buggy Company, the Barley Motor Car Company and Handley Motors Incorporated. But the most famous Kalamazoo-based automaker was Checker Motors Corporation, which built the famous Checker taxicabs in Kalamazoo from 1922 to 1982.
The “Muscle Bike Mania: Pedal Power” display was a collection of bicycles. In the early 60’s, drag racing was all the rage. Out west, kids found inspiration from dragsters to dress up their pedal bikes. In 1963, Al Fritz, Vice President of Engineering for Schwinn, created the “Sting-Ray” bicycle featuring high handlebars and the “banana” seat. These bikes will surely rekindle some memories for you.
he “Hot Pursuit” display was a collection of law enforcement vehicles. These vehicles demonstrate decades of performance modifications for Police use. Also there were Power Wagons on display. The Dodge Power Wagon has been an icon in the North American Vehicle Industry since the 1930’s. Dodge provided early versions of the Power Wagon as a part of the “Arsenal of Democracy.” The Power Wagon supported farmers, fire departments, and utility crews.
There were many categories of cars on the beautiful rolling grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. It is a must see for all to enjoy next year. Mark your calendars for the 30th annual event, Sunday, June 18, 2017!
Editor’s note: More photos to come in the next few days….