Uber-luxury soiree revs up Detroit auto show

Louis Aguilar, The Detroit News

The North American International Auto Show is for the huddled masses and, oh yeah, the president of the United States of America.

Saturday night’s The Gallery at MGM Grand Detroit was for the 1 percent crowd. For $500 a ticket, hundreds of beautiful people strolled amid uber-luxury autos from Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Rolls Royce. Many of those automakers preferred not to be part of the Detroit auto show, where among the global debuts will be the next-generation Chrysler minivan.

The Gallery featured about a dozen cars, and each of them costs about the same as a four-year undergrad degree at a good public university. Dr. Lawrence Rouhani, a surgeon in Charlotte, N.C., and his daughter, Serena, a graphic designer in Kalamazoo, took selfies next to the black Ferrari 488 GTB, which has a suggested retail price of $242,737.

“That’s as close as we are going to get to a car like that,” Rouhani said. “I own a 15-year Mercedes-Benz station wagon and a newer Buick -- I’m fine with that.” His daughter owns a Chevy Volt.

The Rouhanis said they came because the proceeds benefit the Detroit Auto Dealers Association’s Charitable Foundation Fund. Some came to show off bedazzling cocktail dresses and swanky suits. And if they were not buying the swank cars, they had other top-of-the line things to bid on in the silent auction.

Halfway through the soiree , there were multiple bids for the “all-inclusive luxurious” eight-day European river cruise. The top bid halfway through the auction was $6,000. Also at the moment, the top bid for a bottle of 2012 Blackbird Illustration wine was $400.

The 2016 North American International Auto Show will be open to the public from Jan. 16-25. The Detroit auto show will feature more than 40 primarily global vehicle debuts from the world’s largest automakers. They’ll take place on $200 million worth of new sets and stages inside Cobo Center, which last year completed a multi-year, nearly $300 million renovation.

Expected debuts include the 75th anniversary edition Jeeps from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV; Chevrolet Cruze hatchback from General Motors Co., as well as unknown debuts from its Buick and GMC brands; and a refreshed lineup of Ford Fusion midsize sedans and production Lincoln Continental flagship sedans from Ford Motor Co. More than 800,000 people are expected to attend. President Obama plans to stop by Jan. 20.


Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN