Tuesday, 17 August 2021 09:12

Motor City Car Crawl Shows the Potential of Summer Auto Shows

Written by Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press
A Jeep Wrangler Rubicon on display Aug. 5 at Grand Circus Park during the Motor City Car Crawl in Detroit. A Jeep Wrangler Rubicon on display Aug. 5 at Grand Circus Park during the Motor City Car Crawl in Detroit. Rodney Coleman-Robinson, Detroit Free Press


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After a successful debut that drew 50,000 people, showcased a handful of hot new vehicles and raised about $200,000 for charity the first week of August, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association is studying the inaugural Motor City Car Crawl for lessons to improve the North American International Auto Show’s expected return to downtown next summer.

After a series of occasionally controversial decisions that led to the creation of the MC3 and the upcoming Motor Bella show at M1Concourse in Pontiac, MI, the DADA’s strategy of mounting smaller outdoor events instead of an old-style auto show this year appears prescient.


The New York auto show---scheduled to begin Aug. 20---was abruptly canceled just hours before MC3 opened in six parks across downtown Detroit on Aug. 5. At this point, it’s anybody’s guess whether the Los Angeles auto show will take place in its usual time and place at the LA convention center in November.


In contrast to that anxiety, I spent an enjoyable few hours strolling around MC3 on Aug. 7. The show featured more than 30 vehicles displayed at downtown Detroit’s six public parks during its Aug. 5-8 run.


Aug. 7---hot and sunny, topped off with a crowd-pleasing open-air concert by Sheryl Crow---appeared to be the big day for attendance. Downtown sidewalks were busy, the food trucks all had lines and every table was occupied in the bakery where I stopped for coffee and a pastry.


Crow’s performance, which raised money for local children’s charities that have been longtime beneficiaries of DADA events, was the capstone, but performers were present all weekend, as were a variety of vendors selling crafts and T-shirts.


A good time appeared to be had by all, to the extraordinary extent that even the portable toilets got positive reviews for cleanliness.


It was a good start for an event I hope will become a fixture as the auto show takes advantage of summer weather to display and demonstrate vehicles in the TCF Center and throughout downtown.


“We’re thrilled on so many levels,” DADA Chairman of Special Events Doug North told me. “The downtown parks served as...

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