DETROIT – Snapping a photo of $2-million-plus Bugatti Chiron, Steven Bearden couldn’t get enough of the bevy of super-luxury cars herded into a ballroom at this city’s convention center.
“I feel like the kids visiting Willy Wonka’s factory,” he said as scores of upscale partygoers ogling cars that ranged from the new Rolls-Royce Phantom to a pair of Ferraris.
About 800 people crammed into the hall for the annual event called the Gallery at Cobo Center ahead of the opening of the North American International Auto Show. For more than a decade, the Gallery was a dress-up event that combines gourmet food with exotic cars.
The soiree draws not only draws the well-heeled from Michigan, but others who fly in it, said spokesman Max Muncey. On Saturday night, they sampled roast duck and lobster Bloody Mary shooters, mingled with chef Wolfgang Puck and slid behind the wheel of a Maseratis, Porsches, Rolls-Royces and many others.
If last year’s Gallery event is any measure, the buyers would snap up $2 million or $3 million in exotic and luxury cars based on what they saw at the show, Muncey said. Plus, a silent auction benefitted the C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
As for the cars, everyone seemed to have their favorites. Bearden, who came from Howell, Mich., with wife Gwen, saw the baby-blue Bugatti as photo worthy. But it was an Aston Martins that won his heart.
Astons have “the perfect balance of elegance and toughness,” he said.
Jasmen Holt of Clarkston, Mich., was drawn not only to the Bugatti, but the food and the whole scene.
“I think this is really a great idea,” she said. Her husband Willard, not normally a big fan of the motoring world, said, “I’m am enjoying myself more than I thought I would."
Marc Bland of Farmington Hills, Mich., had his eyes set on a Karma Revero, the reincarnation of the Fisker plug-in sedan. But he wasn’t ready to buy since he says he already drives his dream car: a black 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Clearly there were other Corvette fans in the house. While most of the cars were foreign brands, GM’s Chevrolet held a prominent
position in the Gallery with a new 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1.
Still, no car seemed to win as hearts like that Bugatti.
“That’s the pipe dream,” explained Sandra Jouhet of Rochester Hills, Mich.