LA Auto Show Press week episode 1

pubsmartlogoHRDtm8bitvp.jpg Wheels, Balls, Rubber and any combination thereof pretty much will jump start any guy. An Auto Show accomplishes 2 outta three in that combo. Add in the pheromones released by a new car and its more rush than most guys can handle. This current installment is closer to being an important show for the manufacturers than years past. It has never made sense since LA is one of the most important markets on the planet its auto show should be as big. The show’s link HERE.

The first display you see when walking into the show is for the Smart Car which I have written about HERE. I love that car. Seeing it up close and personal only makes me want one. If you believe their packet already 30,000 people have put down their $99 deposit for delivery’s starting after the first of the year. I think they may have a bigger hit than planned on their hands.

For the rest of Day one for the media make the jump

I wasn’t sure what I expected given the hype of a better show. It didn’t look different, certainly not what I expected in terms of an important World Class show. I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to write about. I just wanted to see the new cars and what was coming at us. Walking into the West Hall it hit me.

pubnassauhdrtm8bitvp.jpg Ford is in its death throws. Virtually no new cars to show and the majority were trucks. GM wasn’t much better off which explains a lot of why they have given up the crown as the largest producer in the world. Chrysler was pretty stale, but it did have one glimmer of hope in its Nassau show car.

The interesting thing is that only Chevy really had some hard product to show us for the future in terms of clean machines and alternative fuels. It’s a mish mash of product that is confusing as you don’t know what they want to be. The Hybrids and alternative fuels but not always where it makes sense. The “Malibu Hybrid” was MIA from its turntable. The new Volt looks like it has a lot of potential; at least it makes you look. The problem is they are trying to do to much at once with the car line and it looks like a mismatch you would see on a used car lot. Sad but other than the “Chevy Bowtie” glued to the front it could be anyone’s car, and given the way they source their cars that should shock no one.

Can someone help me out here? Hybrid trucks. What the hell is that about? Touting 25% mileage isn’t that big a deal when you barely get double digits as it is. Do we really need to have that 100 pound brain dead suburban mom running around in a 6,000+ pound truck/suv thingy getting groceries? It looks more like a desperate grasp at keeping the status quo. I understand choice and even dip into my own hedonistic splurges but daily excess on that level can’t be healthy for any of us.

pubmkshdrtm8bitvp.jpg Ford’s potential and at least acknowledgement of the importance of the LA market used opening day to premiere their new Lincoln MKS. The MKS (pronounced Mark S) is destined to be their “flagship” indicative of the future of Lincoln.

It has some nice sculptural elements to the car, bold but not as bold as what Caddy did to reinvent itself. The front end looks like a cross between a bloated BMW kidney grill and the older Pontiac Firebird Split. Interesting too that it’s back to Front Wheel Drive contrary to what the high end luxury cars are doing. The scary thing for me when I look back at the incredible luxury cars in the lines heritage, I see them going after Acura not the luxury leaders like Benz, BMW or Caddy. In my not so humble opinion they are positioning the Lincoln line mid-market where the Mercury line was originally designed to be.

emptymerclineup.jpg Speaking of the Mercury line, kill it already. Really it died years ago. This show underscored it. 3 cars and nearly the entire floor was empty. Worse one of them wasn’t even a car, it was an SUV. Based on my recent ownership I can tell you their quality is in the toilet, let it have the final swirl in the bowl already.

This was an interesting experience for me. I’ve never considered myself “the media” but to be able to get a press pass and wander about is a different way to do the show. There are no veiled attempts at PR, its blatant hype to get your attention and hope you have kind words to say later. They even bribe you with all sorts of goodies to nibble with drinks of all sorts to wash it down. (I grabbed only a bottle of water so none of you can accuse me of being someone’s shill).

The high point for me was to be able to meet one of my favorite car writers, Jean Lindamood Jennings . I hope I didn’t scare her, but I did introduce myself and gushed about how much I’ve enjoyed her writing over the years. The exchange was funny and certainly follows her character. I told her I have enjoyed her writing since her Car and Driver days. She replied “That makes you old”. No shit, it does but I still like her writing style. Currently she has the last word on the last page of Automobile magazine.

I walked the show looking for a glimmer of hope for our domestic manufacturers. It was like going into a funeral home and planning a wake. Not a comfortable place for a person who has supported and bought domestic cars (never a truck or derivative here).

Today its off to see the imports and my favorites of that batch. The unattainable, at least for me, Bently, Lambo and Ferrari’s.

All the pics by me. They will get bigger if you click them just right. I have more on my Flickr page as well HERE .

10/15/07 UPDATE In fairness to the Ford and Chevy both cleaned up their show room floors for todays opening. A lot more cars on the floor for Ford though they are still variations on the same car. Chevy is better, they make more sense than yesterday and their concepts will likely get a post all their own. I’m not as dismayed by the domestics as I was yesterday, but they still lack that oomph to show they are going to survive.