For more than three decades, January has meant a return of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) to Detroit. This year, the event is moving to June 13-20, and will take advantage of warmer weather to expand outside of the TCF Center, formerly Cobo Hall, to the streets of the Motor City. While the change presents some exciting new opportunities, it does make the long, cold month of January a bit less appealing. If you’re missing your fix of cars and creativity, here are some suggestions for places to visit.
Southeast Michigan Auto Show
While the auto industry heads toward Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, the event that prompted NAIAS to change its dates, the inaugural Southeast Michigan Auto Show will open at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. The new event will opening to the public at 10am on Friday, January 3 and run through Sunday, January 5. This event is focused on consumers who are in the market for a new vehicle. General admission is $10, with kids 6-11 getting in for 5 bucks, and their younger siblings for free.
Michigan International Auto Show
While the scale of the show may not be quite as grand as NAIAS, the city truly is. Head to Grand Rapids January 30 – February 2 for West Michigan’s most renowned car show. Presented by the Grand Rapids New Car Dealers Association, this annual event at DeVos Place welcomes manufacturers from around the world. Whether your interest is in sedans, vans, SUV’s, trucks, hybrids, or sports cars, you’ll find it here, including the latest models. If you go, don’t miss the special exhibit by Gilmore Car Museum. Located just one hour south of Grand Rapids in Hickory Corners, the museum always brings a unique group of vintage vehicles. This year’s exhibit will focus on that American classic–the Station Wagon. General admission to the event is $12, with $5 tickets for children ages 6-14, and free entry to kiddies 5 and under.
Automotive Hall of Fame
If the innovation and stories behind the vehicles is what most captivates you, then check out the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn. Located in the shadow of The Henry Ford, this interesting destination for car lovers puts the emphasis on the people behind the machines. Nearly 800 people from around the world have been inducted into the hall since its inception in 1939. The building features galleries with permanent and changing exhibits on the early days of the automobile, the rise of the auto industry around the globe, and the beauty of auto styling and how it has changed every part of our daily lives. The venue is open daily from 9am-5pm. General admission is $10, with a $6 option available to Seniors (62+), and $4 for Youth (5-12).
Rouge Factory Tour
While in Dearborn, don’t miss the Rouge Factory Tour from The Henry Ford. Whether your interest is in our nation’s automotive past, present, or future, there is something to be gained from a visit to the iconic Ford Rouge Plant. Completely reimagined, the factory has undergone a sweeping transformation to become a model of 21st-century sustainable design, yet still offers awe-inspiring encounters with America’s celebrated manufacturing industry in all of its many stages. You’ll get an inside look at the making of America’s most iconic truck, the Ford F-150, and immerse yourself in modern manufacturing’s most progressive concepts. The tour is available Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm. The tour begins with a 20-minute bus ride from The Henry Ford to the Ford Rouge Factory Tour Visitor Center, so the last bus leaves at 3pm. General admission is $19. Seniors (62+) are admitted for $17.25 and Youth (5-11) for $14.25. Tickets for Henry Ford Members run $16.25.
Local Car Dealerships
One of the hallmarks of the period surrounding NAIAS traditionally has been a lot of great deals on new vehicles. While the event has moved to the summer, dealers want you to know that January remains one of the most affordable times of year to buy or lease a car, and they intend to continue that tradition. Even though January may no longer be auto show time in Detroit, it can still be new car season. Admission to dealerships is free for all ages…unless you buy a vehicle, then it’s a tad more than our other four suggestions.