Spectacular rides at DeVos Place include 60th anniversary Vette, 302 Boss Mustang, BMW Frozen Black Sedan
By Brian VanOchten
Photographer Tim Motley
GRAND RAPIDS – The star attractions of any auto show are the luxury sports coupes and sedans that prompt car shoppers to fantasize about rolling down the highway in those spectacular rides. Those attending the 15th Annual Michigan International Auto Show will see a pulse-pounding lineup featuring the latest offerings from Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, as well as iconic American street muscle represented in the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang.
The one supercar that didn’t make the trip, however, is still getting lots of attention.
The seventh-generation Corvette, introduced earlier this month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is not part of the parade at DeVos Place this weekend, but the 2014 Stingray has everyone buzzing. It’s the No. 1 question Corvette race car driver Danny Kellermeyer gets wherever he goes.
Kellermeyer, a retired General Motors regional field-service manager, competes in the Sports Car Club of America’s T1 Class in his C6 Corvette, but he, like everyone else, is infatuated with the all-new C7.
“Everyone is asking about the new Corvette,” Kellermeyer said. “It’s too bad there aren’t enough of them to get one here. They only had two in Detroit. The red one revealed in Detroit was taken right from there to New York for ‘The Today Show’ and then sent to the Barrett-Jackson Auction (in Scottsdale, Ariz.) where VIN #0001 sold for $1.1 million to NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick.
“It’s a great car. I was there for the private revealing of it, but, if you wanted to see it on a normal day in Detroit, you couldn’t even get close. They were 15 or 20 people deep. I think everybody really loves it.”
The unique appeal of the Michigan International Auto Show is that car shoppers can get up close and personal with all sorts of supercars, including a 2013 Corvette ZR1 60th anniversary edition white coupe with silver racing stripes that retails for $127,000.
It is one of three eye-catching Corvettes on display at DeVos Place, along with a 1958 C1 regal turquoise convertible from the Gilmore Car Museum, one of only 510 built in that color in that production year, and which Chevy sold for a factory price of $3,811. The third Corvette is a 2013 ZR1 from Berger Chevrolet in a Velocity Yellow paint job, black competition wheels and 638 horsepower underneath the hood.
“Oh, certainly,” Michigan International Auto Show producer Henri Boucher said of requesting the C7 Stingray for this year’s show
The Million Dollar Motorway, featuring a record 17 vehicles priced at $100,000 or more, permits car shoppers to get up close and personal with some of the fanciest luxury rides on the planet. Other sports cars, such as the Ford Mustang Boss 302, is on the showroom floor for fans to reach out and touch.
“You get down here and you can actually open up the car doors and get inside them – unlike a lot of larger shows, like Detroit, where they’re all locked up,” Boucher said of the 300-plus verhicles on display at DeVos Place. “Here, it’s a shopping event. You can get in them and check out the seats, the head and the legroom and all the creature comforts. There’s so many new things in these cars, whether it’s GPS systems or heated seats or heated back seats, lots of different things. There’s so many different options.
“People have learned over the years this is the greatest way to shop.”
The 2013 Michigan International Auto Show runs Thursday through Sunday at DeVos Place. Hours are 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children 6-14 and free for kids 5 and under.
One of the most popular exhibits on the floor at DeVos Place is sure to be D.J. Racing, where Kellermeyer, 66, of Ortonville, is showing off his 2012 C6 Corvette race car that he’ll be competing in May 25-26 on the re-paved infield road course at Michigan International Speedway in the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, July 13-14 at GingerMan Raceway in South Haven and July 27-28 at Grattan Raceway Park near Belding.
He still gets lots of oohs and aahs from people who approach his race car.
He also understands the street buzz surrounding the C7 Stingray means that he’ll be fielding a lot of questions from people interested in his opinion of the latest model of the most famous American sports car.
“The Stingray has been out here and there in different versions over the years. In bringing it back, I think they made the right decision,” Kellermeyer said. “It’s bringing back a nameplate that is something special, and they wanted something special to bring that back and make it work. The whole car is very unique when you get into it. It’s a 6.2-liter engine that has almost no common parts with the previous LS5 engine.
“It has an all-aluminum frame in the base car and a standard seven-speed transmission. And their working on an eight-speed. We asked them all kinds of questions about what’s coming down the road, but they’re not talking. They’re focussed on the 2014 base car right now. It really has a lot. It has a lot of major changes,” he added.
Aside from styling changes, the all-new engine is what’s most impressive to him.
“Yeah, I’m pretty impressed with the engine,” Kellermeyer said. “It’s a direct-induction engine with 450 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque. There are only three pieces on it that are common to the old one – the starter bolts, the valve keepers and the valve-spring retainers. That’s it. Other than that, everything else is new. They’ve taken the cylinder head and flip-flopped the intake and the exhaust inside the cylinder head.
“Everything has been redesigned. It’s a higher compression ratio. The gas mileage went up on it again and front end went lower again. It’s a real road-hugger, better handling. I’m excited. I haven’t been in one yet to take it out on the track and play with it,” he said, “but I’m already working on getting a 2014 for a road-race car.”
Inside and outside, the Stingray has all sorts of new styling cues and improvements.
“It has got all the content to it, with the new frame, seating ability and dash that goes from digital to analog. The frame is 25 millimeters wider and 25 millimeters longer, so that extra little bit of wheelbase is going to help weight distribution again. The tail lights are a little questionable (departure from the circular afterburner look to a more sculpted rectangle) to some people, but it’s a solid car. It just has a lot to it.”
FIVE TO DRIVE
Stellafly’s Brian VanOchten picks five rides to check out while wandering through 15th Annual Michigan International Auto Show that runs Thursday through Sunday at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids:
1. BMW M5 Frozen Black Sedan – It’s an absolute show-stopper that’ll freeze car enthusiasts in their tracks. The luxury sedan gets a special-option $5,000 matte-black paint finish as part of the $105,795 sticker price. If you thought matte paint finishes were nothing but a fad, think again. This paint scheme is a game changer.
2. Dodge Ram 1500 – The 2013 North American Truck/Utility of the Year and 2013 “Motor Trend” Truck of the Year gets an updated interior, a new V-6 engine at the entry level and an available eight-speed transmission. It starts at $23,830, but the Hemi V8 version is going to push up the stick price real fast.
3. Porsche Panamera 4 Platinum Edition – You want a luxury sport sedan? You want a luxury hatchback? You can have both in this stunningly gorgeous four-door hatchback with a 3.6-liter V6 engine producing 300 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque. The sticker price is a cool $96,810.
4. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon – The Cadillac ATS is getting all the hype as the 2013 North American Car of the Year, but don’t miss this wagon. It’s the ultimate ride for soccer moms looking to rule the road. It has a 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 engine that produces a staggering 556 horsepower and 551 foot-pounds of torque and goes from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
5. Ford Fusion SE Hybrid – Hybrids in all forms are all the range with gas prices showing no signs of ever falling below $3 a gallon again. The latest impressive offering from Ford features a standout redesign of the Fusion, impressive fuel economy at 47 mpg and a surprisingly affordable sticker price of $33,370.