EyesOn Design honors the late Carroll Shelby

GROSSE POINTE SHORES, Mich. — EyesOn Design celebrated its 25th anniversary June 17 with yet another look at automotive designs past, present and future.z

For over two decades this show, a benefit for the work of the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, has managed to bring vehicles with significant design features together for the pleasure of owners and the public.

The largest grouping of cars this year honored the late Carroll Shelby. The Shelby Snake Pit comprised some 30 cars and a Titan motorcycle all of which had been touched by the greatly admired car designer and builder. Shelby passed away in May at the age of 89.

The EyesOn organizers confirmed that these vehicles all were “genuine Carroll Shelby serialized cars,” factory correct and  built to Shelby Automobile standards.

Rick Nash of Frankenmuth, Mich. was showing his 1966 Mustang GT 350 convertible, one of 16 Shelby convertibles built between 1965 and 1980. Nash was delighted to share his circle with a 1968/2010 Superperformance, a unique street-legal Shelby race car owned by Rick Schans of Allen Park, Mich. He pointed out the slight clear bubble on the roof of the 1966 GT40 owned by James Kinsler (no city) and parked beside the Superperformance.

“That’s to accommodate the helmet of the driver,” Nash said.

Across the field Jim Bielecki of Clinton Township, Mich. was demonstrating, with a remote, the air suspension of his intense blue 1965 Mustang with 475-horsepower engine and some nitrogen nestled in the trunk beside the air compressor.

Bielecki, who owns JimTech Inc., a show car paint and conversion operation in Clinton Township, said he has owned his Mustang for 31 years. His EyesOn car, with scalloped hood, shaved door handles, roll cage, OZ racing wheels and matching steering wheel and pedals, is his fourth conversion of the Mustang.

William Papke took a chance when he left Grand Rapids, Mich. at 4:30 a.m. to make the trip across the state to Grosse Pointe Shores. It was dark and raining, and Papke’s 2007 Zoragy concept car had no windshield wipers.

Zoragy specializes in concept cars, and his 2007 was built in Yugoslavia, Papke said. The car features a 1994 Camaro Z-28 chassis and running gear. Papke said he had seen it at the 2011 Labor Day auction in Auburn, Ind., but as it went across the block the following day, he did his bidding on the telephone.

With all the head-turning cars scattered across the estate lawn, a teal 1921 Vauxhall 30/98 E-type owned by Peter Quenet of Belleville, Mich. more than held its own. Quenet said there are 35 of these Vauxhalls extant. His featured a nickel-plated grille, a regular windscreen and small glass racing shields, a box on the running board with 12-volt battery inside and certainly the neatest hood ornament of the day: a bearded figure downing a pint. Beneath were the letters A.O.F.B. – Ancient Order of Froth Blowers.

Quenet said the E-type Vauxhall has been clocked at a top speed of 85 miles per hour on the road and 100 miles per hour on a track.

Who would have thought that a 1997 Nissan 240 SX would look so terrific at age 15? Someone on the EyesOn Design planning team apparently knew about this customized one and invited owners Kelly Withrow and Patti Kidd to bring the fabulous-looking coupe to the 2012 show.

And the 1997 Toyota Supra turbo owned by Mike Gianunzio of Walled Lake, Mich. and a yellow 1993 Mazda RX-7 brought by Aaron Johnston of Commerce, Mich. were older cars with custom looks that put a nice spin on the original versions.

Paul Cartman of Ann Arbor, Mich. was busy removing road dirt and fish flies from his bright-green 2007 Dodge Magnum wagon. Cartman said one of the greatest challenges has been matching paint on the former SEMA show car in order to touch up minor blemishes. The front end is black, morphing to an intense, bright green on the hood.

While Cartman lost vision in both eyes as an adult, he said he could picture colors in his mind, and certainly could fully enjoy riding in the Magnum SRT 8 with 425-horsepower engine and custom tailpipes.

Stationed at the entrance to the cars was Margaret Dunning of Plymouth, Mich., with her yellow 1930 Packard 740 Roadster. Dunning, a centenarian, was chatting with guests who appeared impressed with her Packard and her vivacious charm.