Grab your keys.


At the North American International Auto Show, it’s not the supercool Hollywood-style display spaces all over Cobo Hall.

It’s not the free swag — tote bags, food, alcohol — that makes you feel like such a piggie at the trough.

It’s not the calla lilies and lucky bamboo, set in a line of perfectly plain crystal vases, each of which leans at about a 30-degree angle, artfully illuminated by a pinpoint halogen spot.

It’s not the daiquiris they’re pouring at the Mini Cooper booth, where you can make a little postcard of yourself driving one.

It’s not the computerized fountain at the Jeep display, where JEEP CHEROKEE 4X4 is written in falling water.

It’s not the Mexican bean-dip thing they had going on there, either.

Nor is it the open bar at the Jaguar / Range Rover space.

It’s not the chrome cutaway engines and floor models that are dusted, like, every 30 seconds, all of which somehow leads to the illusion that new cars can stay new forever and engines need not be fouled with stuff like gasoline and oil.

It’s not the plasma-screen video over at Mercedes, and at Audi, and at pretty much everywhere else, too.

It’s not that having a press credential lets you do all this stuff before the crowds arrive next week, and it all gets shoulder-to-shoulder.

It’s just that the cars look so, so cool.

Posted at 10:21 pm in Uncategorized |

4 responses to “Grab your keys.”

  1. ashley said on January 5, 2004 at 10:49 am

    Oh yeah.

    Anybody seen the new Bugatti? Over 1000 horsepower, 0-60 in under 3 seconds, and a $1.2M price tag. Ugly as sin, though. Can’t compare to the new Ferraris.

    The best looking cars all look like penises. A Dodge Viper is obviously circumcised. The E-type Jag is probably the most penis-shaped car ever, except for the penis-shaped car that Peter Griffin drove in that episode of “Family Guy”. Problem with the E-type Jag is that you had to have a good friend who was a mechanic, or you’d spend all of your time and money at the shop.

    According to my father, the first British Leyland dealer in Florida: “The biggest piece of crap ever made. They would use a quart of oil a week sitting on the showroom floor.”

    My dad was a car dealer for about 30 years, and he’d drive home a different car every day. I remember when he drove home a plain old Dodge Dart. However, at the time, you could get any Chrysler engine in any Chrysler car. This was a green Dart with a 426 Hemi.

    When he went to the shows, he’d come back with great swag. I still have the 45 record (in transparent red!) called “Challenger Challenges You!” from the 1971 (I think) introduction of the Dodge Challenger, their entry into the pony car field.

    The best bit of swag was a 9″ B/W Sony TV, that also ran on DC power. This was from 1970.

    It still works.

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  2. alex said on January 5, 2004 at 2:47 pm

    Having just toured Indiana’s Auburn-Cord-Deusenberg Museum once again, I can understand why the big auto shows don’t get me all that excited anymore. Here’s a small, independent manufacturer whose ’30s cars had more style than anything made today. This company also introduced front-wheel drive and unit body construction back then, advances which became industry standards decades later.

    No wonder they need half-naked chicks orbiting around on giant turntables at the auto shows. There’s not much that new or exciting when it comes to vehicles these days.

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  3. Nance said on January 5, 2004 at 3:54 pm

    Well, I think comparing cars made 70 years apart, style-wise, is like faulting Christopher Columbus for not having enough cultural sensitivity — it’s a wee bit too apples/oranges, when technology has moved so far and the government has gotten involved in dictating automotive safety.

    That’s why I was pleased to have my brother along, who knows cars inside and out, and could point out details of design, particularly under the hood, that I would have missed otherwise.

    That said, I thought a lot of the new models were fairly yawn-worthy, with a few exceptions. I didn’t write anything down, but it looks like Chrysler found something resembling a groove with a couple of their better sedans, which looked positively sporty (for Chrysler!?). I also thought the VW Phaelon was fab, but the floor model, with something like a 12-cylinder engine, was a little pricey was $66K.

    That Porsche Carerra in the picture was ooh la la, but strictly fantasy material for anyone without a Hollywood plastic surgeon’s income.

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  4. danno said on January 6, 2004 at 9:49 am

    The only car that wowed me this year was the new Bentley!!! And at $139,000, almost a steal!!

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