The night before the Detroit motor show opens is a night becoming dominated by one fixture of the annual motor show calendar - the GM Style event. That might say more about what there is to amuse yourself in Motown that it does about GM’s attempts to turn on the glamour. Except that, this year, the performers included Mary J Blige, Maroon 5 and Kid Rock, and an impressive fashion show besides, both cars and impossibly attractive models making their way down an impressively large catwalk. It might sound naff – and apparently last year’s inaugural event was, a little – but this one went off as slick as could be.
There was no announcement to go with the cars – which kicked off with a beautiful white ’53 Chevrolet Corvette (left), personally selected by GM design boss Ed Welburn – which were left to speak for themselves. ‘That’s what they have to do in the street, after all,’ said Welburn.
And the impression, at the end of it all, was a GM fast gaining confidence, and finally getting to grip with its huge model portfolio. True, the Pontiac Vibe has about as much as an already-buried coffin, but pretty much every other car here, be it Buick Riviera concept, Opel Corsa OPC, Chevrolet Malibu or Cadillac CTS, looked like it belonged there. GM still makes some cars that are oddly proportioned, clumsily detailed or plain bland, but they’re being exorcised from a line-up that’s looking increasingly impressive.
The only disappointment – to these eyes at least – was the catwalk highlight (of the wheeled variety, at least) was the Corvette ZR1. It might have the statistical credentials – 612bhp, more than 200mph – but the fundamental shape of this car still looks a little indeterminate and uncertain, despite the ZR1 modifications. But no doubt about it – of America’s three domestics, GM looks far out in front on the recovery road.