Detroit — Gage Libbey, 11, wanted to go to the auto show for the first time with one goal in mind: to see the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Mission accomplished.
“I got to sit in a Corvette,” said Gage of Birch Run with a wide grin after he took an interactive test-drive video at the display.
His mother Tanya Smith said they were also impressed with the models at Porsche, Lincoln and Tesla displays.
“Some of the displays were so elaborate, it’s like how did they put all this together in time,” she said.
The two were just a couple of the car enthusiasts who descended on downtown over the weekend to see what’s new in the auto industry.
On Sunday, 102,115 attended the show Sunday to get a glimpse of the more than 500 new vehicles on the showroom floor; 106,560 came Saturday, the opening day, the strongest in five years, said NAIAS Chairman Bob Shuman.
“I think its ability to attract so many people is because it has the newest cars and features,” said Tim Fogle, 49, of Toledo. “I love to come see the concept cars and prototypes.
Fogle admired a convertible Camaro with his son, Kaleb Mosher, 11, who held up a rock ‘n’ roll sign to indicate his support of the sports car.
“The cars are fantastic, the exhibits are works of art, and the weather cooperated,” Shuman said in a statement. “The real beneficiaries are the people who made it to the show this weekend. They experienced the absolute best that a healthy auto industry has to offer.”
People leaned over barriers to take photos closer to the display vehicles while the show floor vehicles kept auto detailers busy wiping fingerprints from cars that attendees couldn’t help but touch.
Some of the most popular displays were the 625-horsepower 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 — which caught Gage’s eye — the all-new 2015 Mustang and the Toyota FT-1 concept car,said NAISA spokesman Joe Rohatynski.
Interactive displays, which included virtual simulators and high-tech touch-screens, also drew crowds.
Dennis Horkey, 43, of Flushing remembers coming to the auto show every year in the ’90s. He said since he’s returned in the past two years, auto technology has surged and the displays have become more hands-on.
“It’s like something out of an ’80s or ’90s sci-fi movie,” Horkey said after using a translucent touch screen at the Ford display while his son, Jacob, took pictures of a futuristic-looking Honda FCEV concept.
For Pamela Rose of Chelsea, it was a chance to find her next vehicle.
“I’m ... here to do a little snooping to see what trucks are available,” said Rose, who said she needs a sturdy vehicle to pull her horse trailers.
She visited Chevrolet, Ram and Ford displays with a focus on the Ford F-150 with a lighter aluminum body.
But the cars weren’t the only thing that caught her eye. Cobo’s renovations were also impressive, she said.
“Detroit needs it,” Rose said of the upgrades. “I’ve lived here through the riots and remember shopping downtown. It’d be nice to be able to take my grandkids to a revitalized riverfront.”
“The city needs to have people down here for more than just the auto show and a ball game,” said her husband, David Rose.
Over at the Chrysler display on Saturday, Dave and Patricia Brewer of Toledo were sitting in the automaker’s latest offering, the Chrysler 200.
“It’s really comfy, like sitting in a recliner,” said Patricia Brewer, who drives a Dodge Avenger.
“I love it,” said Dave Brewer, who works at the Toledo Jeep plant, but had never seen the mid-size sedan in person. “It’s a little different shape and size but I think this is a game-changer.”
The show continues through Sunday. Public show ticket prices are: $13 for adults; $7 for seniors ages 65 and older; $7 for children ages 7-12; and free for children 6 and under accompanied by parent or guardian.