The North American International Auto Show’s first official event Saturday was a way for potential customers of ultra-luxury cars to look at such models up-close and away from the usual auto show crowds.
The Gallery, held at the MGM Grand Hotel, showed off more than 25 cars costing $100,000 or more, including a Rolls-Royce with a price tag approaching $400,000. Organizers estimated about 400 people attended.
“It brings another element to the show,” said Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. “Where else can you see cars like this?”
The Gallery is an invitation-only event. Customers who attend, including some flown in from outside Detroit by American Express Co., can sit inside the luxury cars to take a closer look.
“It’s more quaint of an atmosphere,” said Anil Sastry, owner of a metro Detroit flavoring manufacturing company. “The auto show is overwhelming.” The Gallery, he said, “is a good chance to see a lot of cars in a short amount of time.”
Saturday was the seventh edition of the Gallery and the fifth at the MGM Grand. It began as a way to entice makers of ultra-luxury cars to stay for the North American auto show. Organizers estimate $10 million worth of ultra-luxury vehicles were sold at last year’s Gallery. On Saturday, brands including Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Porsche and Maserati were represented.
“At the auto show, they don’t let you get close to these vehicles,” said Murali Guthikonda, chairman of the neurosurgery department at Wayne State University. “Here, you can actually touch the vehicles.”
Dealers also use the Gallery to keep in touch with customers. For example, Cauley Ferrari in West Bloomfield Township had 15 customers at the Gallery on Saturday night.
“It’s a very selective invitation,” said Jeffrey Cauley, owner of the dealership. “Nobody turns us down.”
Lamborghini Troy also had customers at the Gallery. “It’s a nice night to invite a close-knit group of our clients,” said Ross Dressel, a sales representative from the dealership.