Monday, January 21, 2008

Now, from my Foreign Corrospondent:

The Car Show – Am I Really Getting That Old

Remember when going to the car show was a treat. When it wasn’t just an exercise in trying to see what you wanted to buy for your next commuter transport or which minivan would suit your family best. You went to experience automotive eroticism. Your heart raced as the latest models came into view. In an instant you were peeling out of the showroom and onto the pavement, unsuspecting citizens scattering everywhere as you chased two guys wearing suits, fedoras and driving gloves in a black Charger……..


The car show used to let you get close to the new models before they began showing up on the street. You didn’t feel like you were on a multi-badge car lot. Now the brands all seem the same, there appears to be no real style innovation and everyone is selling every type. Each badge has an SUV, a crossover, a sedan a mini and a van. When Lincoln offers a pick up and Porsche an SUV you know there is some market bleed-over. All is not lost though, there are many reasons to go to the Auto show even if you won’t feel like you need to go to confession afterwards.

We went in search of the largest luxo mafia cruiser. It seems only Mercury and Cadillac believe there are guys who need leg room (and trunk room when the need arises – for those one way trips to the fishing pier if you know what I mean – fogetaboutit). Although these cars are only a mere shadow of their prehistoric ancestors built in the late 60s and early 70s they do scream F O (the second word is OPEC – you can guess the first).

We got to see Ronald MacDonald. Its not every day you get to see a guy in a bright yellow suit and red hair. He gave us a great auto show gag line – he doesn’t understand why he drives on a parkway and parks on a drive way. Sort of reminiscent of the bad stand up comics before the burlesque shows – they tell me (I’m following the cars as sex theme here).

We got to see a metro-sexual climbing out of a crème colored convertible VW bug. The really sad thing is that this car looked so bland it probably didn’t even give him the “look at me, look at me” feeling he was trying to achieve when he stepped into the car. He probably went directly over to the Buick section after that. Little did he know that we weren’t looking at him but the bug. It didn’t bring back memories of driving our Vdub along the southern California coastline. It just looked like a bland pseudo euro bad styling attempt at retro.

Speaking about the Buick section we spent a record 14.24 minutes in the Buick/Olds/Pontiac section (or the oatmeal section) before we could feel our automotive will to live being bled from our veins. We had to escape. We bounced over to the GMC Tahoe Hybrid. We didn’t want to make the jump too quickly. Going directly into the classic cars or the exotic imports could have caused autophilactic shock.

We did learn the Tahoe Hybrid used a technology called “regenerative braking” to charge the battery. It seems you generate kinetic energy when you brake, which usually ends up building up as heat. This vehicle uses that energy to charge the battery. Neat idea, I wish I felt like spending the $55 grand it would take for this model to show my support for such great innovative ideas. We need more of that in our auto industry.

GMC also has another Hybrid, the Malibu. We wanted to ask a sales person if it also had regenerative braking so first we looked to the young female GM rep near the car, but she was using a manual to look something up for the guy she was talking to (you can create your own Hybrid Malibu Barbie joke here) so we decided to ask an older gray haired car guy who was also a GM rep. We asked him about the technology on the Malibu Hybrid and as he was droning on trying to sound like he knew what he was talking about but wasn’t clear on anything, I looked at his badge. It said his name “Jack” and below it was “Product Specialist”. Isn’t it cool that they can make up titles for people who shouldn’t have them. The guy who gave me my food at the concession should have been wearing a badge that said “gastronomic supply technician” but he wasn’t. And Jack certainly wasn’t a “Product Specialist”, in fact he didn’t seem to know Jack.

We did find out that Toyota was the most experienced in the hybrid market. They had three models that were labelled Hybrids. The Preis, the Hylander and the Camary. The Preis has been around since 2000 and is the darling of the Hollywood crowd who want to let everybody know they are environmentally conscience. The only problem with buying a Toyota is the “we are dominating the world” tax Toyota has on the use of their name. They require you pay them $7 each time you say Toyota. I can’t go though life not saying the name of my car. In fact I owe them $28 for this paragraph.

We found out two other things about hybrids. When you ask Nissan if they have a hybrid they will say yes but it is available in only twelve states and Chevrolet won’t make a hybrid Corvette. The first is like making a full sized chocolate car, nice but you are never going to get it home, the second is like a chocolate suppository, at first an interesting idea, but after you think about it for a minute you think – what was I thinking.

We found out that metallic orange is in this year. Every manufacturer seemed to have a car in that color. The problem with stylish car colors is that they eventually fall out of style and then you are stuck with a really expensive reminder of how old your car is.

We also saw the Camaro concept car, there is no way the production model is going to look like that. After the feds get a hold of it, it will probably look exactly like the Grand Prix. The Bullitt Ford Mustang was a cool concept car that is actually available. It looks close enough to the real thing that if you saw a sandy haired guy tearing around the streets of San Francisco in it you would look for a black Charger.

Well I exited the main hall after gathering a few brochures and just as I thought I would have to go home a little too squeaky clean I spotted the classic car section. There were a few T-birds and a Chevy Nomad. Just staring at me, seeming to say, yes you can leer and you won’t get an elbow in the side. I lingered but the crowd pushed me along.

Just after I was over that I spotted Mustang row. Eight vintage Mustangs lined up with their hoods open. I didn’t even care if someone caught me staring. I was experiencing visual sensory overload. I could hear the horsepower of the 302s and 351s being revved. The paint was shinny and the leather seemed as if I was the first one to gaze upon it’s supple softness. I had to move on.

I passed through the exotic car section. There they were, Italian beauties capable of putting me into heart arithimia. I could feel the pounding in my veins. I just wanted to linger, to touch, should I dare say it, to sit in the driver’s seat and be enveloped by the warm and lusty feel of the Rocaro seats grabbing my hips and …… I had to get out of here quickly or I would embarrass myself.

I broke out into the hallway and headed for the door. As I exited the exhibit hall I passed a 1950 Ford Custom Deluxe Utah Highway Patrol car. The pounding in my head was subsiding and my pace slowed a bit. That helped me return to normal, but I would probably have to go to confession anyway. I can’t wait for the next car show – maybe I’ll drive to Vegas.
Alex Rossi
Sandy, Utah
And for the pictures: Click Here
Hummer v. Poser H3: Click Here


A Paperback Writer said...

Okay, this was a nice little tour -- even for a non-auto freak like me. But I'm lost. Who's the foreign correspondent? Is it you? Your alterego? Your brother? And where was this car show? You have one hint about the UHP, but other than that, I have no clue.
Your car skills are more finely honed than your journalism skills.

Max said...

Ok, ok. The "Foreign Corrospondent" is my older brother, who I was with at the show. The car show was at the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy. Utah & this is a freakin' blog so don't expect Pulitzer Prize worthy posting.

A Paperback Writer said...

I am satisfied with the facts that it was your brother and you were with him at the South Town Expo.
No Pulitzer Prize, true, but at least it's not a pulet surprise either. ;)
And I'm glad you two had fun.

Max said...

I ordered that once at a French Restaurant, it was very nice. But yeah, we had a great time, as always.

A Paperback Writer said...

You make me laugh, Max. ;)