May 30, 2003

Charity event brings together largest-ever collection of concept cars

Warren, Michigan – The largest, most complete collection of concept vehicles ever assembled will be on display June 22nd when General Motors hosts the 16th Annual Eyes on Design Automotive Exhibit at the General Motors Technical Center.

The three-day charity event, whose proceeds benefit the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology (DIO), begins June 20 and culminates June 22 with the Eyes on Design Automotive Exhibit.

More than 125 concept cars and trucks, representing the very best efforts of GM, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and other automakers, will be on hand.

“This is perhaps the finest collection of concept vehicles I’ve ever seen,” said Wayne Cherry, GM vice president of design. “These vehicles helped define generations of American style and inspired the designs of some of the finest automobiles ever built. GM was a pioneer in this area. It’s exciting to relive that history and to carry on the GM legacy of truly passionate design.”

The exhibit will feature concept vehicles from the 1938 Buick Y-Job to the 2003 Cadillac Sixteen, which made its debut this year at the North American International Auto Show. The Y-Job, widely considered the automotive industry’s first concept car, influenced design for years with its long, low and wide profile. It also introduced concealed headlamps, electrically operated windows, flush door handles, a power-operated convertible top and no running boards.

GM also will display its Firebird I, II and III concepts from the 1950s. Inspired by the nation’s fascination with the “jet age,” these vehicles were developed in support of GM Research’s experimental turbine engine program.

In addition to vehicles from various automakers, the event also will feature concept cars from some of the world’s most renowned vintage automobile collectors and restorers. Vehicle highlights include:

1953 Buick Wildcat I – Touted as a “Trial Flight in Fiberglass and Steel,” this beautifully restored Wildcat was Buick’s prototype for a revolutionary American sports convertible. A twin-turbine Dynaflow transmission combined with a 188 horsepower V-8 provides enough power to match the jet-style lines of the exterior.

1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special – Designed as Pontiac’s answer to the Chevrolet Corvette, the flashy 1954 Bonneville Special conveys a look of speed. Following the trend of jet-age styling, the Bonnie features a distinctive aircraft-style Plexiglas bubble top with gull-wing glass door tops over the cockpit. Plus, there’s lots of chrome detailing to add flash. Only two models were built and, in a rare occasion, both will be present at the Eyes on Design event.

1954 Packard Panther ‘Daytona’ – A recipient of Motorsport’s merit award for excellence of design, the Panther retained the familiar Packard styling of high fenders and sloping hoods while adding a new one-piece fiberglass main body. This specially outfitted two-seater added a removable hardtop and three V-shaped emblems on the revised rear quarters.

1964 Pontiac Banshee – With its long swooping nose and short rear deck styling suggestive of the Corvette, the Banshee screams speed. Influenced by John DeLorean, the ’64 Banshee features a unique solid-body construction combination of steel and fiberglass-reinforced plastic.
Collector-restorer Joe Bortz of Highland Park, Ill., will bring these and several other cars from his personal collection for the event. The Bortz collection features roughly two dozen vintage cars, including seven one-of-a-kind concept vehicles – some purchased from fellow collectors, others literally dug out of the ground at scrap-yards and restored.

In addition to the concept vehicles, the show will feature 300 of the world’s finest automobiles, including a rare 1936 Cadillac V-16 Aero Coupe. Introduced in 1933 at the Chicago World’s Fair, the Aero Coupe was one of Harley Earl’s first experimental designs. Custom built for each customer, its dramatic proportions and streamlined design highlight the Cadillac’s powerful V-16 engine. Nineteen exact copies were made, but only four exist today.

This year’s Eyes on Design will mark the first time the GM Tech Center will be open to the general public. Show attendees also will have the opportunity to purchase rides in notable GM concept cars.

GM has donated a 2004 Chevrolet SSR as a raffle prize, with proceeds to benefit the DIO. Tickets are $100 each and available by calling 1-800-869-9833.

The 2003 Eyes on Design Automotive Exhibit is co-chaired by Robert A. Lutz, vice chairman for product development and chairman, GM North America, and Gary Cowger, president of GM North America.

A complete schedule and tickets for all events can be obtained by calling Eyes on Design at (313) 824 EYES (3937), or purchase tickets online at:

Eyes on Design is a benefit for the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology (DIO), a not-for-profit corporation. Eyes on Design is the primary source of revenues for the DIO’s research, education and support group programs that enhance the independence of the visually impaired. For more information about Eyes on Design and the DIO, visit:

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