Car Culture: Spy Photo Heaven

My neighborhood is becoming a Mecca for car spy photographers and curious consumers. Trips to the local Dairy Queen, party store and post office invariably end up with the sighting of future vehicles swathed in black-and-white plastic camo and undergoing real-world testing.

On Saturday morning, my husband and I were headed out for a bike ride at Kensington Metro Park when we spotted a heavily disguised compact SUV in the parking lot of CJ’s Party Store on Webster Church Road and North Territorial, just north of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

spy photo 2.jpgWe weren’t sure what it was. Guesses included the 2018 Hyundai Kona, Jaguar E-Pace or a future Dodge crossover. We parked next to it and snapped a few photos. The driver was texting and didn’t seem to notice us.

It’s no wonder we see a parade of camouflaged vehicles around here. We live near the Chrysler Chelsea Proving Ground, Hyundai America Technical Center, Toyota Motor North America Research and Development Center and the University of Michigan’s Mcity, where self-driving cars are tested and on-road deployment puts vehicles in the local community.

spy photogs.jpgWhen my husband and I were first married, we used to stalk the area around the General Motors Milford Proving Ground in a quest to photograph future products for Automotive News and U.S. News & World Report. It’s gotten a lot easier since then with the proliferation of iPhones and future vehicles testing on public roads. Anybody can be a car spy photographer now. And it apparently still pays well.

The potential for spin-off businesses in my neighborhood is great. How about an Airbnb for wannabe spy photographers or guided tours of local proving grounds with the hope of spotting something interesting? Even a lemonade stand on some of the more popular routes for car testers would work.

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