Even in the Motor City, 2022’s Eyes on Design sets itself apart
Detroit-area car shows are special. Even at a regular, Sunday parking-lot car show, you might see cars like AMC designer Dick Teague’s personal AMX, a 350 four-speed Nova hatchback engineering prototype that never made it to production, or a “1 of 1” that was the result of a Chrysler executive loading every available luxury and performance option onto his company Newport. Those are not fictional examples but actual cars—I have the receipts … er, photos.
The area hosts top-shelf events, too. Moving to Detroit’s museum district for 2022, the Concours of America can hold its head high in the company of Pebble Beach or Amelia Island when it comes to the quality and significance of the cars it attracts.
Still, of all Detroit’s automotive gatherings, the Eyes On Design (EoD) show held every Father’s Day at the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores (Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s estate) is particularly special. A charity event that benefits the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, Eyes On Design hosts concours-level cars but judges each based on its design, not by the quality of its restoration (do the inner fenders show the proper amount of overspray?). That’s because the show is organized and judged by members of the car design community—those connected to the Motor City and those associated with international manufacturers. EoD thus has unique access to historically important cars from automakers’ heritage collections along with those belonging to individuals and families tied to the auto industry.
It’s very much an insider show open to the public. At some Detroit car shows, you might be admiring a Grand Torino. The guy standing next to you might be a “Walter Kowalski,” who, let’s say, installed the steering column. At Eyes On Design, it could be Bill Shenk, the Torino’s designer.
This year’s show was particularly remarkable. The theme was Design for Speed, and while not every car in the show was a purpose-built race car, each class of vehicles related to motorsports somehow. In addition to the official categories, there were also some special displays.
The oldest “racer” on the show field was a Ford Model T that set a 23-day, coast-to-coast record in the 1909 Ocean to Ocean Automobile Endurance Contest. The newest racer was the all-new Cadillac Project GTP Hypercar that will compete at Le Mans and in IMSA starting next year. In addition to cars, Eyes On Design always has motorcycles on display as well, only this year there were flat trackers, motocrossers/enduros, and road racers.
It should be noted that while not all the cars were original, the show organizers required replicas to be identified as such. Two of those replicas were Shelby Daytona Coupes, part of a special class honoring Eyes On Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award winner Peter Brock. Jim Hall’s Chaparrals were there, too. The show also gave a rare look at famed designer and Art Center instructor Strother Macminn’s highly influential LeMans Coupe, the first time it has been seen in public in 60 years.
Outside of something like the Goodwood Festival, I don’t think you’d ever find a more diverse group of racing and racing related cars than at 2022’s Eyes On Design. Since that’s probably why you’re reading this article, you will find an extensive gallery of photos below to give you an idea of just how many different kinds of race cars there were at the show.
Here are the overall and special award winners, the class ribbon winners: