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Novi auto show fills January void for car lovers

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Novi — Car buffs rang in the new year at the first annual Southeast Michigan Auto Show, which is showcasing this weekend with local dealerships parking in Novi.

The show is occupying 200,000 square feet at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi through Sunday. Showrunners say it isn't a replacement for the North American International Auto Show, which moved to June, but does help fill the void. 

"For me, as a car enthusiast, I love to look at them, sit in them," said Meg McNamee, 32, from Tecumseh. "Many car shows are competing in the summer and you miss your auto fix in the long winter months. Harley Davidson has a section here and that made me really excited because we rarely see them."

More:Auto show's move to June leaves winter lull in downtown Detroit

McNamee came dressed up in vintage attire with her friend, Pam Trammel from Flat Rock. The two said they enjoyed the shows diversity in vehicles in the smaller, more intimate space.

First annual Southeast Michigan Auto Show at Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi, Michigan on Jan. 4.

"We dress up to make it an immersive experience for us and other people attending the shows," said Trammel, 34. "We love that there are exotic cars here and motorcycles. You don't see them anymore. They've been exiled on the big show floor at NAIAS."

Automakers have no direct participation in this weekend's show, leaving big reveals until the summer. Displays are entirely mounted by area dealers looking for buyers during the slow, cold winter months.

The show houses 35 brands represented by local dealerships and those in charge hope to see 30,000 people walk through the event space this weekend, but on Saturday had less than 10,000.

"We just know that dealers and automakers in this time of the year are looking for an opportunity to get in front of consumers and sell vehicles so we're just trying to fill that need in the marketplace. Definitely not a replacement for the Detroit show," said McKenzie Bowman, a promoter with the auto show. "The goal is to come back yearly. Consumers and dealers alike want something during this time frame to connect."

Bowman said the Ford GT and Ferrari have been popular picture moments and have been placed together on the show floor after the "Ford vs. Ferrari" movie release. 

Meg McNamee and Pam Trammel look over a Rolls Royce while wondering around the Southeast Michigan Auto Show at Suburban Collection Showcase in Novi, on Jan. 4.

"Exotics are also on display here, which a lot of people were missing from the NAIAS," she said. "We've got Kip Sheward and Lingenfelter, they have their exotic showstoppers here, too."

The Southeast Michigan Auto Show is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River, Novi. Admission is $10 for ages 12 and up, $5 for ages 6 to 11, with those younger than 5 admitted free.

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Twitter: @SarahRahal_