AutoFair Goes Out of This World to Play Host to Extraterrestrial Vehicle
It looks like something you would see in the new Star Wars movie, but the Extra Terrestrial Vehicle (ETV), which makes its Carolinas debut during the Sept. 24-27 AutoFair at Charlotte Motor Speedway, was built right here on Earth.
The ETV will be featured in the Nationwide Showcase Pavilion, along with a world-class collection of Ferrari automobiles, a display of NASCAR Hall of Fame vintage stock cars, a Ford Bronco 50th Anniversary exhibit and a gathering of NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon's stock cars and street cars.
E.T., Drive Home
Mike Vetter has been producing custom vehicles since the 1990s, when he taught himself fabrication skills while building a Lamborghini Countach replica. He followed that project with a Ferrari clone, which eventually led to his Micco, Florida, business—The Car Factory. Vetter spent many years making sports car replicas and custom cars for customers, but he always dreamed of giving the world a fresh new design.
After the birth of his daughter, Vetter began brainstorming a futuristic car that could comfortably carry a small family in a body that no one had ever seen before. The ETV's fiberglass and composite exterior is crammed full of features rarely or never seen on other automobiles. The wheels, for instance, are entirely hidden from view by covers that are smoothly integrated into the fenders. The doors open in a gullwing fashion by remote control. Huge intake scoops cover the rear third of the car, channeling air to the engine—if the customer requests a rear-engine layout—and acting as downforce generators. Round porthole windows, which have not been seen on production cars in three decades, can be made to open and close from the cockpit.
An air suspension system raises and lowers the car, based on the terrain. When speed bumps or other obstacles appear, the ETV chassis can elevate several inches; at highway speeds, the car is practically flush with the asphalt. The interior is comfortable for two adults, but the rear seat on most builds is suitable for children or short teenagers. Unlike many hand-built, low-volume cars, the ETV has DOT-certified safety glass, including a 4.6x5-foot windshield Vetter sourced from an OEM glazer in Peru.
Because of the car's large, flowing body lines, it is hard to see traffic to the rear, and everything between the windshield base and the front bumper is obscured. Taking the high-tech approach, Vetter installed two video monitors to cure these blind spots.
Production of an ETV can take up to one year. Customers supply or specify a "donor" car when they order an ETV, and Vetter creates a new body to work with those specifications. Past ETV donor vehicles have included a Chevrolet Cobalt SS, Chevrolet Aveo, Toyota Echo, Honda Insight and Toyota MR2. The blue ETV coming to AutoFair is based on a Porsche Boxster.
The AutoFair features more than 50 car club displays and more than 7,000 vendor spaces offering an array of automotive parts and memorabilia. More than 1,500 collectible vehicles of all makes and models will be available for sale in the car corral that rings the 1.5-mile superspeedway. In addition, kids can enjoy face-painting, bounce houses and other games and entertainment in the play zone.
AutoFair is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Tickets are $11 for adults (including tax) and free for kids 13 and under with a paying adult. Parking for the event is $5. For tickets or additional information about AutoFair, call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway website.