Grand Tour Michigan Theater

The fanciest parking structure… in the world

Many of us here at the ‘Verse watched The Grand Tour’s first episode of Season 3 last week. Joel always gets the early viewing being that he lives in the future (or Australia). And the episode was fairly on point for the trio of curmudgeons from the UK. The show overall was simple: Detroit film, zero celebrity awkwardness, the Senna was fast, and it most of the familiar beats.

The best part is that the Michigan Theater is amazing!

Built in 1926, the Michigan Theater is attached to the 13-story Michigan Building. The Theater is built atop the location of Henry Ford’s workshop were his first automobiles were constructed. The workshop itself has been salvaged and relocated to the Henry Ford Museum. Not a replica, but the actual workshop was moved.

The 4,000-seat Michigan theater was originally used for showing silent films. Featuring 10-foot crystal chandeliers, a fully functional orchestra pit, and was considered “a jewel” of the middle west. One of the deficits of the theater was not having free parking available and as time passed more and more patrons headed out to the space of suburban sprawl.

In the 1970s, the theater was used to host concerts including Aerosmith, Bob Seger, David Bowie, Rush, and Blue Oyster Cult. But even those events were not bringing in enough to justify staying open. The theater couldn’t be demolished without compromising the structure of the office building attached. So, the owners gutted the facility and built a three-layer parking structure inside the theater.

The Michigan Theater is where one segment of the Grand Tour episode takes place. Jeremy, Richard, and James have a contest to see whose muscle car is the loudest. I was horrified at first because the establishing shots for this segment showed only ornate theater in disrepair. Eventually, the parking structure was revealed, so the #getoffmylawn version of me could calm down that they weren’t about to ruin a theater because the theater had already been ruined.

See part of James’ bit here:

No spoilers from me on whose car was the loudest in the theater. It wasn’t who I expected.

But I enjoyed this episode. Not because of Jeremy’s orangutan-ness, but because they showed us a place that many have never seen or heard of before. Heck, Jalopnik wrote a post about it in 2010 and we still don’t remember it.

Now for the cost of parking, we all can do some urban exploring of this place.


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6 responses to “The fanciest parking structure… in the world”

  1. alex Avatar

    Mixed feelings about new season. Clarkson is FAT! May is still fat. Hammond’s beard/mustache/hairdo is way too hipster.

    While the presentation of the decay of one of America’s great cities was accurate, I couldn’t help but feel that it seemed like gloating over our failures there.

    McLaren Senna segment was brilliant.

    Too artsy in some of the filming. Particularly early on. More car, please and less artsiness.

    I’ll continue to watch.

  2. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    I could complain the blokes are looking older, but since I am too, that would be unfair.

    That said, I wonder where the show can go…without the “been there, done that” feeling….? I have deeply enjoyed the ride so far, but the “Richard crashes” gags and the “James is a slow pedant” schtick has gotten a bit redundant….and that is where we are. I hope Jezza can scrape some new level of brilliance out of the trio as they approach the twilight of their careers. Do they have enough energy left to dig that deep?

    1. Batshitbox Avatar

      It freaks me out that James May is only 5 years older than me. He looks like John C. Reilly with a wet towel on his face.

  3. PrestoCookie Avatar

    I wonder if the cast realized they were also the theater: run down, shadows of past glories and repurposed to remain useful. Top Gear was (and still is) great because the focus is the cars. Witnessing these poor guys suffer through a juvenile script forced to play pranks on eachother and make it seem genuine was cringeworthy. At least they have some excellent heavily-hidden stunt drivers substituting in for the external racing shots.

  4. mrh1965 Avatar

    I didn’t enjoy the episode at all. Don’t think I laughed once. I’ll watch new episodes but with sort of the same attitude as I have with Wheeler Dealers these days.. a shrug and what the hell, nothing better on. These shows are nothing to look forward to anymore.

    1. Pinkerton9 Avatar

      I still have an episode to watch days after it became available (Columbia part II), and I wouldn’t let that happen with Top Gear. Clarkson spending his breath ripping on the movement to grow vegetables was so inane, I don’t think he even believed it. He’s just delivering the caveman antics that are expected of him. Meanwhile, May manages to get in one sensible half-sentence about how how far you have to go in many areas of Detroit to get produce. That’s one small example, but the act is getting tired.