A charitable automotive idea that may soon migrate to Europe is a fancy-dress opening night fundraiser for auto shows.
The black-tie reception on the eve of the Detroit auto show this year raised $3.75 million, 43 percent more than in 1997.
Some 3,000 people were on the waiting list for tickets, and 15,000 people paid $250 each to attend. Stories in the Detroit press said some tickets being sold for four times their face value as executives jockeyed to attend.
Show organizers from London and Romania met this year with Rod Alberts, director of the Detroit show, to find out more about holding such previews at their auto shows.
Chicago's large regional show adopted the idea a decade ago. About 10,000 people attended in 1997 at $125 apiece.
'The black-tie event has grown in popularity in a big way,' said Alberts. 'It's a great barometer for how the show's grown overall.' The show had a record attendance this year of 719,000.
The Detroit fundraising night benefits 10 children's charities in the area. The total doesn't count money raised in associated events. For example, Volkswagen donated a new Beetle for a raffle that earned $27,000 for one of the 10 children's charities. Some suppliers such as Budd Co., a division of Thyssen, sponsored afterglow parties that raised extra amounts.
'I guess it's an S&BS event, See and Be Seen,' said Paul Sichert, vice president of public affairs for Budd, a steel stamping supplier owned by Thyssen. Budd buys a large number of tickets and hosts its own party after the preview.
'It's the premier event of the Detroit business social scene,' Sichert told a Detroit newspaper. 'After the long holiday, people are eager to go down and start things moving again.'