Thomas Connors -- Interior Design, 12/1/2004 12:00:00 AM
Hip-hop stars may be crazy for cars, but their collections can't match the panoply of classics at the General Motors Heritage Center. Located in Sterling Heights, Michigan—several miles from GM's Eero Saarinen–designed campus—the 81,000-square-foot facility celebrates future automotive innovation by documenting advances of the past. The inventory of up to 350 vehicles represents nearly a century of automotive product, including the 1912 Cadillac Model 30, the first self-starting automobile; the 1938 Buick Y-Job, reputed to be the first concept car; and the muscle cars of the 1960's and '70's.
While visitors can comb the center's archive to trace the evolution of the catalytic converter, for example, simply grooving on the cars' colors and curves is encouraged. After all, the romance of the American road runs deep. "Everybody has a story about their first vehicle, or they remember something important that happened in or around one," notes GM vice president of communications Thomas Kowaleski. "We let people tap into that great emotion, rather than consider the miles-per-gallon rationale of the marketplace."