A 1939 Bugatti billed as “Bugatti’s Final Masterpiece” will be one of the unique vehicles that visitors will see during EyesOn Design.

A 1939 Bugatti billed as “Bugatti’s Final Masterpiece” will be one of the unique vehicles that visitors will see during EyesOn Design.

Photo provided by Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology

EyesOn Design taps its top designers for this year’s car show

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published June 4, 2024

 The EyesOn Design judging panel — pictured  here at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in  Grosse Pointe Shores — is made up of students, working and retired automotive designers.

The EyesOn Design judging panel — pictured here at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores — is made up of students, working and retired automotive designers.

Photo by DW3 Photography, provided by Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Dads and car lovers alike will have reason to celebrate when the 37th annual EyesOn Design car show rolls onto the grounds of the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 16, which is Father’s Day.

Dr. Philip Hessburg, the director emeritus of the nonprofit Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, said this year’s show will feature “the crème de la crème” of vehicle design, as all the vehicles included have been dreamed up by EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award winners.

“Our annual theme, and our design-centric approach to determining which vehicles will be invited to participate, is what makes EyesOn Design at Ford House unique among car shows anywhere,” EyesOn Design Chair Kathy Pecar Lightbody said by email. “This is more true than ever in 2024, with our theme of ‘Design Masters: A Lifetime of Design Achievement’ and a field of vehicles designed by previous winners of the EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award.”

Vehicles are coming from across the country and even across the world this year. All are chosen by automotive designers and appear at EyesOn Design by invitation only.

“For many people, this will be the only opportunity to see these vehicles,” Hessburg said. “I think (this year’s show) is going to top anything we’ve ever done.”

The popular optional Private Eyes Brunch, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 16 at the Ford House, includes admission to the car show; the cost is $100 for adults and $40 for children under age 10.

One of the highlights this year at EyesOn Design will be the McLaren F1, a legendary sports car and the subject of this year’s EyesOn Design poster, which was painted by Nicolas Rousselet.

Another vehicle generating buzz is the very rare 1957 D-Type Jaguar, the original factory team car from the years that Jaguar won the LeMans 24-hour endurance race for three straight years.

Still another of this year’s highlights is a 1939 Bugatti that had a chassis but was never fitted for a body because Jean Bugatti, Ettore Bugatti’s son, was killed in an accident before he could finish designing it. Car collector Peter Mullin purchased the 1939 Bugatti Type 64 chassis in 2003 and worked with EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award winner Stewart Reed and Kimball, Michigan-based Automobile Metal Shaping to complete the project, using techniques from the period and hand-forming the vehicle’s body over a mahogany buck. The completed but unpainted car will be shown at EyesOn Design.

Before he died in September 2023, Mullin was quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine a greater token of respect to the Bugatti family than to help finish Jean Bugatti’s beloved final masterpiece.”

The 1919 Pierce-Arrow Model 66 Touring car, which kickstarted the career of famed General Motors designer Harley Earl — who designed this vehicle for silent film star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle — is another of the vehicles that will be on view.

Hessburg said people come from across the country for EyesOn Design, which he said is the only remaining major car show in southeast Michigan and offers one of the most unique lineups of vehicles people will see anywhere.

“If you are a car lover — and there certainly are a lot around — you should not miss this show,” Hessburg said.

Besides the car show, there are several other EyesOn Design events over Father’s Day weekend, all of which require advance reservations. A 75-mile driving tour of southeast Michigan followed by lunch will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon June 14, at a cost of $95 per person. The black-tie optional Vision Honored: EyesOn Design Lifetime Design Achievement Award presentation will be from 6:30 to 10 p.m. June 14 at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, at a cost of $225 per person; this year’s honoree is Gordon Murray, the executive chair of Gordon Murray Design and a renowned vehicle designer and engineer whose work includes the McLaren F1. The symposium, “Ford GT Design: Inspired by the Past, Focused on the Future” will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. June 15 at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, at a cost of $50 per person, which includes admission to the Automotive Hall of Fame. It coincides with the 60th anniversary of the GT, which debuted in 1964.

The EyesOn Design car show and related events are fundraisers for the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, which is based in Grosse Pointe Park and provides programs and services for blind and visually impaired individuals in the region. The DIO is also the research arm of Henry Ford Health.

In addition, EyesOn Design is a critical fundraiser for the DIO’s biennial research congresses — The Eye and the Chip, about artificial vision, and The Eye, the Brain and the Auto — which take place on alternate years. The congresses have been taking place for more than 20 years. Bringing international researchers together has enabled them to share their findings and collaborate, something that has led to important breakthroughs and findings.

The work of the DIO includes organizing multiple support groups around metro Detroit for the blind and visually impaired.

“Support groups have a huge role when we see somebody who’s losing their vision and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Hessburg, a retired eye doctor. “To put them in a support group with people who’ve been down this road before is very important.”

Over the last 37 years, Hessburg said, EyesOn Design has raised more than $4 million for the DIO and the research congresses.

“EyesOn Design is a lot more than a really great car show,” said Dr. David Goldman, director of the DIO and a senior staff ophthalmologist with Henry Ford Health, during an EyesOn Design event in February. “It’s an opportunity to advance medicine to find a cure for blindness.”

Tickets to EyesOn Design can be purchased at the gate for $40 per person. Children under age 10 will be admitted for free with an adult, and active-duty military service members can receive free admission by showing their identification. The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores. For advance reservations or more information about EyesOn Design or any of the related events, visit eyesondesign.org or call the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology at (313) 824-4710.