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Of the 33 high-end luxury sedans, coupes, SUVs and supercars on the gallery floor, 12 will move onto the main show floor. Photo credit: DAVID PHILLIPS

DETROIT — U.S. equity markets are soaring. Americans are splurging on all the latest tech goodies with their latest crossover and SUV. The U.S. economy continues to expand. And lower personal taxes are on the horizon.

So the mood was optimistic at the invite-only Gallery showroom Saturday at Detroit’s Cobo Center — an annual event kicking off the 2018 Detroit auto show.

Dealers and luxury brands — while looking cautiously at potential economic changes to drive vehicle sales — used the event to showcase ultra luxury sedans and super cars with a combined value of $ 10 million.

Thirty-three vehicles from 14 ultraluxury and supercar brands placed in a circle at Cobo Center. A sellout crowd of 800 people attended the 13th annual event; tickets went for $ 250 per person this year, half of what was charged in previous years.

The MGM Grand Detroit casino housed The Gallery in years prior, where customers and dealers in superluxury vehicles could view the next year’s offerings across the hall from slot machines.

“MGM worked out fantastic for us for many years, but really credit to Cobo Center and the regional authority for the $ 300 million renovation in the building,” Max Muncey, a spokesman for the Detroit Automobile Dealers Association, which organizes The Gallery and the auto show. “It was time to bring the cars back to the show.”

Of the 33 high-end luxury sedans, coupes, SUVs and supercars on the gallery floor, 12 will move onto the main show floor.

The overall U.S. light-vehicle market peaked in 2016 and slipped slightly in 2017, but exotic and luxury segments declined in 2017. Exotic vehicle sales in the U.S. slid 8.6 percent, compact luxury car sales dropped 10 percent, and midsize luxury cars declined 7.9 percent last year.

Many ultraluxury brands, such as Ferrari, Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini, edged up slightly in 2017. Audi sales climbed 7.8 percent, while Bentley sales dropped 6.8 percent last year.

The eighth-generation Rolls-Royce Phantom loomed over the proceedings, as crowds gathered around the massive $ 520,000 car for photographs, popping open the coach doors to experience the white leather interior.

Bugatti’s $ 3.4 million Chiron, the most expensive vehicle on the floor, also generated buzz.

“What’s more important than having affordability is acceptability. We do find when the economy is vibrant, when businesses are doing well, when the stock market is doing well, when there’s good strong consumer confidence, it’s more appropriate for people to go out and expand their Rolls-Royce ownership,” said Rolls-Royce spokesperson Gerry Spahn. “With the economy in its current situation, we’ve had good performance. We expect the demand will be slightly stronger than the supply will be.”

Bill Perkins, dealer principal of Taylor Chevrolet in Taylor, Mich., said there’s a tone of caution to the optimism, as consumers at higher income brackets in the market for these vehicles are laying low.

“With the next tax laws going in, with everything that’s going on, I think people are being a little more cautious. I think people are making more money, people are doing very, very well,” Perkins said. “Whenever, the economy itself gets better, people want to do better so they move up, they raise their expectations, and they spend more money.”

The vehicles on display:

  • Acura NSX
  • Two Aston Martin models: DB11 Volante and Vanquish
  • Two Audi models: R8 Spyder and RS7 Performance
  • Two Bentley models: Bentayga and Flying Spur
  • Bugatti Chiron
  • Cadillac CTS-V Championship Edition
  • Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
  • Falcon F7
  • Three Ferrari models: Lusso T 488, GTB Ferrari, 812 Superfast
  • Two Jaguar models: the F-Type SVR Coupe and F-Type Convertible
  • Karma Revero
  • Two Lamborghini models: Aventador S coupe and Huracan LP580 coupe
  • Lincoln Navigator
  • Two Lingenfelter models: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
  • Two Maserati models: Lavante and GranTurismo Convertible
  • Nissan GT-R
  • Four Porsche models: 911 Turbo S Executive Series, Panamera 4, Panamera Turbo, Cayenne Turbo
  • Two Range Rover models: Autobiography and RR SVR
  • Two Rolls-Royce models: Phantom, Dawn

The show limits each participating brand to a maximum of three models valued at $ 100,000 or more.

Participating brands have used the annual Gallery event to launch sales.

“We’re not allowed to sell cars physically the night of at the event, but I’m sure after a couple of handshakes and gentleman’s honors, tomorrow morning somebody can walk away with the car keys,” Muncey said.

The evening also included a silent auction to benefit C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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