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A southeast Michigan Father’s Day weekend tradition returns in full force with the EyesOn Design classic car show featuring an extraordinary collection of historic race cars and other programing June 17-19 at the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.
The June 19 show will feature nearly 200 vehicles on the mansion’s grounds, capping a weekend that includes:
- A dinner honoring legendary car designer Peter Brock.
- Design giants talking about Corvette design and the influence of designer and teacher Strother McMinn in the historic GM Design Dome at the company’s Tech Center in Warren.
- A rare public event celebrating Corvette design at GM’s Heritage Center, home to the official collection of GM’s greatest production and concept cars.
EyesOn Design was founded in 1986 to raise funds for the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, a research arm of Henry Ford Health System. Schedule and ticket information for the weekend’s events are available at the EyesOn Design website: www.eyesondesign.org/#upcoming.
Leading auto designers from around the world oversee the event, which annually honors a leading figure in auto design and draws a broad range of classic and historic vehicles. COVID-19 dampened festivities, but EOD continued with smaller, modified shows in 2020 and 2021.
More than 200 vehicles are expected at the beautiful Ford House this Father’s Day. The theme is “Designed for Speed,” and all the cars embody different aspects of race car design through the decades.
Meet the kings of Corvette design
Friday night’s dinner on June 17 will see Peter Brock receive the EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement award at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac. Brock’s historic designs include the Corvette Stingray racer and Shelby Daytona Coupe. At 19 in 1953, Brock was the youngest designer GM ever hired when the automaker plucked him from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.
Brock will be present throughout the weekend, joining other greats in Corvette design history including John Cafaro, Randy Wittine, John Cafaro, Tom Peters, Kirk Bennion, for Saturday’s discussion titled “Stingray Racer to C-8 from a Design Perspective.”
Brock will also participate in the June 18 symposium, “The Influence of Strother McMinn,” along with designers Stu Reed, Steve Pasteiner and Dennis Kazmerowski. McMinn, who helped found Toyota’s Calty design studio in California, was a longtime contributor to Road & Track and Automobile magazines and taught a legion of students that included Chris Bangle, Wayne Cherry and J Mays at the Art Center.
The GM Design Dome is seldom open to the public. Built by architect Eero Saarinen at the direction of GM design chief Harley Earl at GM’s Tech Center, virtually every significant GM production and concept vehicle since 1956 was evaluated and won final approval there.
Making history on the track and in the design studio
Some of the cars being honored are so rare that they’re literally priceless and so never likely to go on the market again.
One museum responded to EyesOn Design’s request for a vehicle by saying its vehicle will never leave its exhibit hall again. For that reason, there will be some replicas, tributes and re-creations among the cars displayed Father’s Day. Those vehicles will be clearly identified on their license plates.
There also will be many rare vehicles at the Ford House, which became EyesOn Design’s permanent home in part because its grounds and house are a tribute to Edsel Ford’s love of design, which led him to hire Ford Motor Co.’s first design chief, Bob Gregorie.
Among the featured vehicles:
1924 Miller 122 Supercharged
Cars built by Harry Miller won the Indianapolis 500 nine times in the 1920s and ‘30s. Miller was noted for using lightweight engines and front-wheel drive.
The 122 at EyesOn Design was rebuilt from the remains of the Bennett Hill/Miller Factory Car No. 3 from the 1923-25 season. Extensive research made this car as close as possible to its original configuration. Bennett Hill drove for Miller for several years. In 1924 in the 122 Supercharged he won a 250-mile race in Culver City, California, at an average speed of 126.9 mph, the highest average speed of any race of 1924.
1955 Lancia D50
Nearly forgotten in America today, Italy’s Lancia brand built a series of great race cars from the 1950s through the 1980s. The D50 was Lancia’s first and only Formula 1 car designed by Vittorio Jano with unique side pod fuel tanks.
It beat the legendary Mercedes-Benz W196 and won the F1 championship, but not for Lancia, which had withdrawn from racing after the death of its driver, Alberto Ascari. Enzo Ferrari purchased the cars, and Juan Manuel Fangio drove one to the driver’s championship for Ferrari in 1956.
EyesOn Design’s 1954 Lancia D50A(r) No. 0007 is an authentic reconstruction by Lancia staff of the original car dismantled by Ferrari at the end of its career. It has its original engine, transaxle and other key components.
Jim Hall set the racing world on fire with his progressive race car designs. His Chaparrals combined Chevrolet power with inventive aerodynamics, mechanical foresight and new lightweight construction technologies.
He built a strong collaboration with Chevrolet and GM Design. The Chaparral 2 was the first car designed by Jim Hall and Hal Sharp. During the road race seasons of 1963 through 1965, versions of the car accumulated 22 wins in 39 races against international competition.
The Chaparral 2 introduced the automatic transmission. The front emulated the Chevrolet Monza GT, designed by Larry Shinoda, while the body design was inspired by GM engineer Frank Winchell’s research project, the Grand Sport ll(b). The Chaparral 2 utilized a new fiberglass semi-monocoque (single shell) body construction whereas the later 2E switched an aluminum monocoque also inspired by the Grand Sport ll(b).
1976 Lancia Stratos HF
The Lancia Stratos HF was designed for Group IV World Rally competition by Bertone’s chief designer and EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award recipient Marcello Gandini. Lancia sold the required 500 of the midmounted V6 cars achieved in 1974, and the Stratos HF won the World Rally Championship Manufacturer’s title in 1974-76.
Chassis 829AR0 001619 started its life as a Stradale, completing production at Bertone on July 23, 1974, before returning to Lancia where it completed assembly in September 1976. Original owner Robert Mervic and No. 1619 made their competition debut at the 1980 Rally del Carso e dei Colli Orientali, being supported by Scuderia Gradisca. Sitting alongside Mervic was Igno Cargnel, with the pair being assigned race No. 5 and finishing second in class and fourth overall. This 1976 Lancia Stratos HF Group IV is currently owned by Charles Nearburg, who is the 2022 EyesOn Design Preserving the Vision recipient.