Hey, guys! Let’s all say hi to Joe Louis, check our coats in the Delta lounge and see what the North American International Auto Show has to offer this year, shall we?
(I’m not sure how we got on The List for the Delta lounge, but I hope we get on it again next year. They had a little pre-party and an after-party, but the best perk was a separate coat check — it let us skip another line. The finger food and the champagne weren’t bad, either.)
Onto the show floor, where every year I’m a little overwhelmed by the first 10 minutes. As I’ve no doubt said before, it’s a very strange event. The lighting is about 1 trillion candlepower, there are liquid-video screens on every upright surface, lots of noise, and thousands and thousands of people dressed in black tie. I was talking to a guy a few months ago who said he likes to take LSD about twice a year. If he did it at this show, he’d run screaming from the floor before he hit the GM space. I want to send an avant-garde cinematographer in to capture surrealism on the hoof. Me, I just hold up my phone and say a Hail Mary:
Hello, Mercedes weirdness. Of course, that’s all anybody does: Take pictures. Of themselves, each other, and once in a while, a car. Like so:
I have no idea who that woman in the pink sequins is, although she appears to know me.
The media are all there, reporting live, reporting for later, just reporting-reporting-reporting. This guy is the No. 1 drive-time morning host on the AM talk station. I find his show almost unendurable; when I’m holed up in a bunker with federal troops outside, they’ll blare it on giant speakers and I’ll surrender in a minute:
Every year, it seems the cars are less of a story than the technology. The show follows the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, every year more seamlessly. The luxury models are more and more like rolling living rooms, with price tags to match, and even the less-luxurious do everything but make you lunch, and that may be on the drawing board. We have an automotive expression in our household — “it comes with all the shit on it,” with all pronounced Texas-style: awwwllll. I’m not sure what this photo represents, all-the-shit-wise; I only welcome our robot overlords with these well-dressed people:
Jeff Borden can tell a funny story about one of his early automotive purchases, where the trunk/glove box light was part of the deluxe accessories package.
But this is a car show, so here’s a car. Ford is reintroducing the fastback Mustang from “Bullitt” in 2019. I always sigh over these nostalgia-wallows, even while I know how useful they are for whipping up the auto press. Here’s the new Bullitt next to one of the two models used in the classic chase scene from the 1968 movie. Guess which one is valued at $4 million?
(Although the first 2019 production model just sold for $300,000 at auction, a price distorted by a charity donation.)
Me, I love a concept car. Freed from the constraints of federal safety standards, designers can go wild with the coolness. Like the carbon-fiber grille on this Lexus:
That’s the LF-1 Limitless, which Alan says is likely to go into production. I’m convinced the product expert was hired because his hair matched the paint job:
“We’re never going to be able to afford this car, are we?”
Look! A bedazzled fun fur!
Here’s a Chinese crossover. The name? A total coincidence, the company says. Well, I’m glad someone else is making money off the name other than you-know-who:
The Ram logo has been squared off and made more macho. Apparently the company thought the old one looked too much like a uterus.
What I said up there about rolling living rooms? Here’s the mileage sticker for the new Suburban, which is basically a bus for soccer moms who like to spend a lot of time at the gas station:
On the way out, we passed yet another refreshment station. Hey, it’s the Detroit News autos team. Good job, guys!
You can see their full coverage here, with more stories and many, far better pictures than these. As for us, bye for now: