Sunday, January 20, 2013

Early peek at the Auto Show with a visit to Detroit's event

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Detroit isn't called Mo-Town for nothing. Its the home of the auto industry and I figured, instead of waiting till the Auto Show comes to Chicago, the mountain will go to the Auto Show. So I took my son this past weekend to Detroit and attended the opening day, Saturday, at the Cobo Arena, which is next door to the Joe Louis Arena and the tunnel to Windsor, Canada across the river.

I realize that auto shows in any city are all the same, organized by the same automobile companies. Detroit is famous for Ford so it wasn't surprising that Ford dominated the largest floor space at the Cobo Arena.

The first thing you want to do is get a "material" or "cloth" bag to carry around as you start collecting all the brochures and buttons and any of the other junk you might waste your money on while at the Auto Show. But the only auto makers who give away bags are the ones you don't want to be caught dead associated with.

I don't like Toyotas, but they handed out the most bags. It's not that everyone loves Toyota -- or dislikes the maker as much as I do. It's about convenience. And I give Toyota credit for thinking about the show-goers and the public. Show Bags ARE Important, auto people. You want us to buy your cars? Make a better car and give us a show bag.

You won't find show bags at the luxury displays like at the show platforms for Bentley, Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati. They are some cool cars but the only reason to spend your time staring at them -- usually from behind a rope and standard or through a clear plexiglass window is to just stare. I can't afford one of those cars and I figure the few people who can afford one of those cars probably has already been given a special showing on the new models at their luxury auto dealerships where they have probably already purchased one of those expensive wastes of hard-earned money.

Who in their right mind would drive a Ferrari around Detroit anyway? And where would you drive it to truly enjoy its powerful engine? Maybe Montana. But I doubt cowboys spend much money on luxury cars. I think they prefer horses, don't they?

There was one car display that was cool. This was the one where a guy on a computer was using a touch screen and his finger to "paint" displays on the computer screen that automatically displayed on the side of the "futuristic concept car."

"We're not selling this car. It's just a concept," the polite worker explained to the audience. 

Well, I'll tell you what. If you can put that on my next car -- under $40,000 please because the costs of cars are already so outrageous it's disgusting -- I might buy the feature instead of wasting my money on Sirius-XM or those worthless extra features they offer you above and beyond basic navigation. (My service that tells me when roads are under construction is always late by weeks. And it doesn't seem to tell me anything until I am already bumper-to-bumper in a construction traffic jam. So what's the point?

Why doesn't the auto industry get something right?

But still, I wanted to take my son to the 2013 Auto Show just the way my dad took me to the 1963 or 64 Auto Show in Chicago. (I think it was at the Amphitheater. Was McCormick place even built in 1964? I don't think so.) [So I broke down and looked it up online, folks. McCormick Place was completed in 1960. So maybe it was at McCormick Place. It's all a blur anyway who who cares today besides me anyway?]

I have a black and white picture taken by my dad of my brother and I standing in front of a white Polar Bear -- is that redundant? Behind it was part of the "Chicago Auto Show" banner. It's memorable. Here it is.

I could find a polar bear where I could take a picture of my son and there didn't seem to be any good places where you could stand to get a good shot with the show name in the background of my son.

Instead, he preferred to jump from car to car and sit in the driver's seat -- he's only 11 anyway -- and pretend that he's driving. 

You quickly realize that the cheaper automakers leave their cars open and are more accommodating to the public when it comes to letting your kids or the family money-ball manager to sit in the car driver's seat. Toyota did -- I may have to reconsider the carmaker in the future. So did Ford and Chevy. But not any of the rich luxury car makers. It bothered my son that they are "so rich and they treat the average person so badly."

Good point Aaron. The rich luxury automakers do treat us pedestrians so shabby. I'm not buying one of their junky cars. Well, I couldn't afford to but then, it just makes me feel better to say it.

So we took a picture instead with the Jay Leno life-sized cardboard cut-out. Couldn't find a good spot to grab that picture. We did the same with Vanna White and Pat Sajak. We didn't waste our time with Ellen Degeneres or Jimmy Fallon. (Fallon's okay but two pictures with two fake cardboard life-sized cut-outs is more than enough, even for an 11 year old.)

So that's the picture my kid will probably show someone 50 years from now when he reminisces about the time we drove to Detroit to see the North American International Auto Show (That's what they call it folks, not the Detroit Auto Show). Him standing with Jay Leno. Although 50 years from know, will anyone remember Jay Leno? Do they remember Johnny Carson? It's easier to remember white Polar Bears but I guess the question is, for how long will they be around?

It's all too depressing. We left and walked past Joe Louis Arena where they were lining up for a Pistons game. And then we drove past Tigers Stadium to take pictures of the beautiful concrete lions. That place is next to my heart only to Wrigley Field.

Now that's a picture worth showing off.

-- Ray Hanania

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