Vehicles like this 1958 Cadillac Coupe de Ville are among the ones that visitors will be able to see during this year’s EyesOn Design car show, which raises money for the nonprofit Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology.

Vehicles like this 1958 Cadillac Coupe de Ville are among the ones that visitors will be able to see during this year’s EyesOn Design car show, which raises money for the nonprofit Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology.

Photo provided by EyesOn Design

EyesOn Design car show continues to build momentum

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 12, 2018

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Your dad probably doesn’t need, or want, another tie. But time spent with his family getting a close look at some of the most remarkable vehicles around? That’s a gift Dad could get excited about.

The 31st annual EyesOn Design car show — a fundraiser for the Grosse Pointe Park-based nonprofit, the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology — caps off a weekend of special events on Father’s Day on the landscaped lakeside grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 17, EyesOn Design visitors will be able to see almost 300 vehicles from 15 different states that fit this year’s theme, “Design Inspiration and Influences.”

“What started out as a little bitty show at Grosse Pointe Academy (in Grosse Pointe Farms) is now (rated as) the fourth best car show in the country by USA Today,” said Dr. Philip Hessburg, medical director of the DIO. “We’re pretty proud of it.”

Visitors will rub elbows with current and retired automotive designers, dozens of whom attend each year and who can discuss vehicles and answer questions from visitors. And they can get close to vehicles, which aren’t roped off the way they are at many other car shows.

“EyesOn Design is one of America’s premier automotive events,” EyesOn Design Chair Kathy Lightbody said in a press release. “Unlike other shows where cars are judged on restoration and/or authenticity, the exterior of each vehicle at EyesOn Design is judged. This unique event attracts members of the transportation design community, collectors and the public. It is such a treat to see cars of this caliber showcased at one event.”

This year’s EyesOn Design Grand Marshal is Joe Ricci, of the Joe Ricci Automotive Group; Ricci is also a Grosse Pointe Farms City Council member.

Besides being a fun way to spend the day, organizers note that it’s for a good cause. The DIO, which provides assistance, devices and programs to the blind and visually impaired in southeast Michigan and conducts international research congresses, is the research arm of Henry Ford Health System’s Department of Ophthalmology. The research congresses, which have brought leading scientists from around the world together to brainstorm and collaborate, have made astounding strides in recent years in the area of artificial vision, which could one day restore sight to the blind.

The weekend will kick off with Vision Honored, a black-tie gala and silent auction from 6:30 to 11 p.m. June 15 inside the General Motors Auditorium on the College for Creative Studies campus at 201 East Kirby St. in Detroit. This year’s gala celebrates the career of former General Motors head designer Ed Wellburn, who will receive this year’s design award. Tickets cost $195 per person; for reservations or more information, call Judi Dara at (313) 824-4710 or email

“That award (winner) is selected by people who won the award before,” said Hessburg, adding that EyesOn Design organizers were “so happy” to hear that Wellburn had been chosen because he’s not only a respected automotive designer, but also a longtime supporter of EyesOn Design.

Once again, Ken and Kristen Lingenfelter are opening up their private collection — considered one of the best in the world — to the public to raise money for the DIO. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 16, visitors can give a financial donation to view the Lingenfelters’ more than 200 unique vehicles, including muscle cars, exotics and Corvettes. The collection is housed at 7819 Lochlin Drive in Brighton.

“We are proud to be a part of such a renowned event,” Ken Lingenfelter, owner of Lingenfelter Performance Engineering, said in a press release. “This show has always been one of the highlights of our year, and we are very pleased to bring additional attention to the exhibition and increase donations to the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology by opening the doors to our collection.”

More than 5,000 visitors are expected to again attend EyesOn Design. Hessburg said many local residents may not realize they have one of the world’s best car shows — “Because it’s for a charity, we don’t have the marketing budget (to advertise it),” he said — but it’s well-regarded in the automotive world. That’s evident even in the fact that, while most other car shows pay their judges and pay to get cars for display, Hessburg said EyesOn Design doesn’t do either.

“The fact that it keeps growing is a testament to our volunteers,” he said.

Roughly 24 volunteers meet weekly year-round to organize the show, while another 50 or so are added to the mix a couple of months before the show. On the day of EyesOn Design, Hessburg said, more than 300 volunteers will be on hand to make sure everything goes smoothly.

They’ve been reluctant to raise the ticket price, though other car shows charge higher fees for admittance.

“It’s $25 to be at one of the best car shows in the country,” Hessburg said. “We’re, by far, the most affordable of the major car shows.”

Children ages 12 and younger will be admitted for free with an adult.

Those who want to make it an even more special event can attend the Private Eyes champagne brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 17 under a tent. Although reservations for brunch are needed, Hessburg said people can make them as late as June 15, and brunch tickets were still available at press time. Tickets cost $85 for adults and $25 for children ages 12 and younger who are accompanied by an adult, and the tickets include admission to EyesOn Design. For brunch reservations, visit or call (313) 824-4710.

Tickets to EyesOn Design can be purchased at the gate, and parking is free. To see all of the vehicles, Hessburg said visitors should plan on spending at least two hours or more at the event.

The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores. For more information, visit