Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline February 2016
Feature Article

Amtrak Road Trip 2016
Detroit Auto Show

January 22, 2016

Ahhh Amtrak – you never cease to amaze me.

The club trip this year was to visit the International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Since the train was to leave Union Station in the late morning, Penny & I left Crystal Lake on an early morning METRA train to hook up with the group in Union Station. The weather was fine – for a January day – and our trip was uneventful, meeting up with the group at a Union Station bar for a quick lunch and a libation in preparation for our feast on-board the 352 Wolverine Amtrak. After a quick lunch we made our way to the track waiting room. It was a usual busy crowd scurrying every which way enroute to their destination. We arrived to the waiting area to note the train had not been listed on the board indicating the gate for departure. Our curiosity was quenched when a ticket agent announced that our train – although in the area – needed to replace a faulty coach car before we could board. It was to only take a half-hour or so. Well the ‘or so’ won out and we finally boarded an hour late. One great thing in being a ‘senior citizen’ – early boarding. We were able to abscond four bench seats for our traveling pleasure.

Soon after leaving the Chicago area, Bill & Deb Mennell opened the buffet for our dining pleasure. Gourmet cheese and crackers, stuffed dates, BBQ chicken wings were among the delights. Of course this was served with the finest red wine from a cardboard box money could buy. Ann & Jake Snyder and Jim Renkar followed suit with an array of goodies and candies. Cookies were served but alas we were unable to procure a cup of cappuccino to compliment the treat. We found an audience of travelers admiring our fare—one traveler in particular. It seems this was his first Amtrak trip, so we offered some of our treats as a ‘welcome aboard’ salute.

We arrived in Dearborn, MI almost on-time. Since we really didn’t have a schedule to meet, this was acceptable. The hotel shuttle was summoned and we waited for its arrival and perused the new terminal. It seems the old terminal located a few blocks away was razed and replaced with this new stone, steel and glass building. Quite impressive. There was a 1922 Davenport Saddle Tank locomotive in the lobby that was used as a workhorse in the coal mines and industrial areas. This particular locomotive was used to move construction materials for the Michigan Wayne County Road Commission from 1922 to 1927.

The Best Western Greenfield Inn was a beautiful sight even in the dark. The 3-story pink structure was well lit and visible from the highway. There are over 200 rooms contained in this sprawling structure. After our arrival, we quickly checked in, stowed our luggage and met downstairs for supper in the restaurant and adjoining bar. We enjoyed a leisurely meal and libations and made arrangements to visit the Auto Show in Cobo Hall the next morning.

Traffic was light inside Cobo Hall for the show, but since it was the last weekend, this could have been a contributing factor (It got busy later in the day). My focus was twofold – to view the electric sports cars and to check out a few of the SUVs my son was thinking on purchasing. My first task – the electric cars – was a disappointment. Both Porsche and Audi are hoping to challenge Tesla in the luxury electric car market, but both are still years away from production and were not shown. The Porsche ‘Mission E’ (what a terrible name!) is still in Germany and may not see American soil until 2018. Bummer…Porsche unveiled its first all-electric concept car at the Frankfurt auto show in September 2015. It looks like a futuristic version of the Porsche 911. Being disillusioned, I didn’t attempt to locate any info on the Audi electric car.
(Continued on page 7)

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