Monsters ‘n’ Jellybeans 2008 – the obligatory L.A. Auto Show Photo-gasm

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/11/viper-thumb.jpgJUST ADDED: A completely ridiculous number of new photos.

Man, the holiday season’s already all foobarred and it’s barely November. Trick-or-treating in daylight hours, springtime weather, and now the L.A. Auto Show will be open Friday through the Thanksgiving weekend. Dogs and cats, living together …

Anyway, I took a lighting-quick stroll today among hundreds of new cars, trucks, hybrids, crossovers and WTFs littering the L.A. Convention Center. And I brought back photos of some of the trick-est new steel and carbon fiber- or at least the stuff that appeals to my black little car-geek heart.

The show’s looking glitzier and healthier than ever – an excessive number of vehicles, 40 new world and North American debuts, freakazoid concept vehicles out the wazoo, and multimillion-dollar booths lined with more high-watt lighting and hardwood’n’glass flooring than a planet full of discos.

Photos and commentary follow the jump …

Click the thumbs for a closer look:

Audi Cross Cabrio Quattro
Does the world really need a 4-wheel-drive convertible luxury SUV? Audi seems to think so.

After Paris and Lindsay wreck theirs and their hangers-on grow sick of how utterly awful the thing looks from below when you’re lying wasted in the gutter trying to figure out how you utterly failed to throw the valet your keys, I’m betting these will wind up as popular as the Edsel circa 1959.

Then they’ll have a resurgence in 2049, by which time we’ll be enjoying our flying cars and longing for the days when practicality was oh, so gauche.

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Audi R8
This is more like it. At least impracticality looks good on this one. Base price $109,000, sez Wikipedia. Sexy like a knife, if you like this sort of thing.
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Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR
Half a million dollars, folks. Right here. The little rail around the outside is supposed to keep you from drooling on it. 5.4-liter supercharged V8, carbon-ceramic disc brakes, 0 to 100kmh in 3.5. No, you can’t even afford to dream about it. Just think: For that price, you could own a fleet of 20 Mini Cooper Ses. In all different colors. Or a reeeeeally bitchin’ mountain bike.
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BMW 135i
At last, an “entry-level” BMW. Uninspired styling, but under the hood lurks a 3.0-liter, 300-hp straight-six yoked to a six-speed transmission for an as-yet-to-be-revealed price, but you can guess it somewhere between the cost of a Cooper Mini and a 3-series.
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Ford “Bullitt” Mustang
Here you go – good ol’ American-manufactured badassery: a 4.0-liter SOHC V6 in Steve McQueen livery that’s supposed to make you feel all cool racing up and down the hills of San Francisco. For $31,000, you’d better get *something* out of it like that.

Me, I’d rather take the next car:

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Chevrolet Camaro Concept
Dear Chevy:

Will you quit toying with us like you’ve been doing every auto show around the world since January, 2006 and just go ahead and build the fuckin’ thing awready?!?!?!?

Fondly,mack

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Chevy Beat Concept
Chevy debuted three knockoffs of the Scion XB/XA/SC cheapie-sport-tuner phenom at the New York auto show in July.

Apparently tire-kicker response was so gushy that Bob Lutz promised yesterday that the Beat (styling cues featured here) will go into production.

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Chevy Beat, Trax and Groove
Okay, so the 1.2-liter turbo engine in the Beat make it all hat and no cattle, but really, you buy a car like this because you can’t afford cattle. Toyota’s youth-geared Scion marque isn’t exactly going broke with the idea of giving the kids a small, boldly shaped blank canvas onto which they can project their kustom wet dreams.

Sorry. Bad metaphor.

What else can I say about the Trax, an all-wheel-drive, 1-liter, 3-cylinder mini-wagon with no actual engineering in place yet? I confess: I tried to open the door to shoot the interior – and pulled off a plastic “handle” that had been poorly hotglued into place on the mocked-up rear door. I stuck it back before anyone noticed. Embarrassing.

The Groove is a 1-liter diesel (again, speed apparently isn’t the point) clad in this year’s fad-finish for the auto show, primer black. All three were apparently designed at GM’s South Korean concept shop with a global market in mind. Could beee …

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Toyota FJ Cruiser Convertible Concept
Anyone care to wager how long it will take for Toyota to greenlight this for production? 4, 3, 2, 1 …
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2008 Ford Edge
By the numbers, it’s a 3.5-liter V6 hauling a 5-door body around with a 6-speed overdrive transmission for about $25k. But it’s also just a damn handsome station wagon, if that’s your kind of fun. 16/24MPG sucks, though. But wait till you get a load of the “Green Car of the Year Award” winner down below.
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Chevy Tahoe Hybrid
That’s right. The L.A. Auto Show named this monster the freakin’ “Green Car of the Year.” Never mind that it’s a 5,500-pound TRUCK doing no better than my 7-year-old heavy-ass Swedish station wagon (21mpg city), it’s just plain fugly.

Am I the only one completely mystified by this nation’s sick thing for immense transportational power that’s usually squandered by solo drivers with cellphones clapped to their ears swerving in and out of lanes on Wilshire like loose supertankers, clogging up the 405 or T-boning hapless Civics because their owners were too high up to see them? I … don’t get me started, man.

When Volvo puts its plug-in hybrid C30 into production, that’ll be something worth yelling about.

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Hyundai Concept Genesis Coupe
3.8-liter, V6 rear-wheel-drive BMW M-class challenger? Check. Eye-charring orange kandyflake? Gotcha. Ducted carbon-fiber hood? Superfly.

Only question is what it’ll cost and precisely how the production model will vary from the show model when it hits the factory floor in ’09.

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Hyundai Veloster concept
This snappy little 2+2 coupe debuted in Seoul last spring. Don’t know much about it beyond that, but I know what I like.
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Hyundai Veloster (interior)
Lots of brushed steel, blue LEDS, and dig that crazy F1-styled steering wheel. I love the way concept interiors look like the inside of exotic watches – unfathomably intricate.
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Lamborghini Reventon
The Batmobile has arrived, and with all 20 cars in the planned production run pre-sold, it’s already become a legend of its own making. A 6.5-liter V12 cranks 660 horsepower through a 6-speed, 4-wheel-drive powertrain, shoving the heavily carbon-fibered exotibeast to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds.

Go on, count that off: Avanti! ONEonethousand, TWOonethousand, THREEonethousand …

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Lamborghini Reventon (rear)
Easily the single most bad-ass vehicle in the hall. What’s that? You actually had a million dollars to spare on a car with only two seats, no luggage space and an ungodly diet? Too bad. Say bye-bye.
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Lexus IS-F
I’m telling you, primer-black is the new black, as far as car paint goes.

The official site says it’s a 5-liter V8 pushing an 8-speed racing transmission to a governed (oh, snap!) top speed of 170 mph.

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1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S
Every now and then, an automaker dusts off an old chestnut.

This sweet little 2-seater debuted in the Summer of Love – only two of them were shipped to the U.S. apparently, both with 110-HP dual-rotor Wankel rotary engine – the first vehicle to carry the motor with the wacky name. Hand-built, and looks it. .

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Mitsubishi Concept CX
I like the cut of this AWD sports-hatchback’s jib, though the 1.9-L 134-HP turbine diesel mill sounds like weak sauce.

I can haz DOHC turbo?

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Mazda design robot
This is pretty slick: The Mazda design team will be designing a new coupe concept using a computer-driven sculpting lathe – while you watch.
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Mini Clubman
BMW keeps pouring gasoline on its wildly successful retro bonfire: This model stretches the original “new” Mini’s wheelbase by 3.15 inches, and adds dual rear doors with electric latches and hydraulic assist. There’s also a mini suicide-door setup on the passenger side, for reasons best left to your imagination. $24,100 buys you the S model, with a 175-HP 1.6-liter turbo that gets an amazing 44+ miles per gallon, if BMW’s flackery is to be believed. Buy the diesel, and you’ll be pulling 60+MPG, they claim.
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Volvo C30
Okay, so I’m already sold on the basic idea of this rig – a 3-door hatchback coupe (that could one day get a plug-in hybrid motor). Its stance is based on the gorgeous P1800ES, a mid-70s 2-door wagon for which I harbored an unhealthy schoolboy obsession.

The Volvo show-runners iced the cake by hiring someone to wire every window in the show car up as an individual TV screen, showing snowboarders having a blast on the slopes.

Okay, how much will that crazy entertainment system cost once it goes from concept to production? You are gonna build it, aren’tcha? Aren’tcha, mister? Hunh? Please? Hey, where are you goin’?

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Porsche Cayenne Hybrid
Yes, Stuttgart’s going green like the rest of the world. The car looks no different on the outside but for this rather hacked-up looking set of graphics.

Inside is where the fun begins, with regenerative braking fueling Li-ion batteries that drive an electric motor mounted between the gas-burning motor and the tranny: Word is, it’ll cut fuel consumption by 15% to 30% (depends on whom you read) while still emptying the blood from your face when you put the hammer down.

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Ferrari 612 Scaglietti Sessanta
In celebration of the prancing horse’s 60th anniversary (Sessanta is Italiano for “60”), Ferrari will make only 60 of these, with an F1 racing transmission, electrochromic roof, enormous 19-inch alloys and the foxy two-tone gray-on-black paint seen here. Ferrari’s keeping mum on the price, but I stuck my head inside. All that leather smelled … expensive.
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Smart ForTwo
From the fire-breathing sublime to the fuel-sipping humble: Smart is finally being allowed to mass-import and sell its ittybittycitycars in the U.S.

Vital stats: Daimler Chrysler makes it. A 3-cylinder, 698cc turbo motor moves the base model, though you can buy a .8-liter diesel or a 1-liter turbo model instead. You can buy an auto, or a manual with steering-wheel-mounted clutch paddles if you like stirring your own gears. All tricked out, it costs $13,950. It is also merely 8 feet long.

And all I can think of is, beware the Tahoe Hybrid.

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2008 Lincoln Mk S
It’s a reworking of the compact LS sedan from the early ’00s, with all-wheel drive, a 4.4-liter V8 and a possible dual-fuel V6 in the future. Not my cup of tea, but it has a nice stance, and I’m somehow oddly allured by anything with portholes in the quarter panel.
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Ferrari 599 Forano GTB
The 6-liter V12 puts this magnificent bastard to 60 in 3.6 seconds, and 205mph before it lets up. The traditional scalding-red paint ensures the police will SEE you doing 45 in a school zone and pull you over just to ogle the thing more closely while writing you up. If you can afford $273,845, you can probably also afford every kind of radar jammer and detector known to man. And a very, very good lawyer.
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1936 Mercedes-Benz 290 Special Roadster

Why, oh, why did they paint this gorgeous car this lurid mango-peach shade of orange? Its 2.9-liter in-line six puts out 68 horsepower which, back in ’36, pushed it to a top speed of … wait for it … 64mph. That’s probably okay, since the art of arriving fashionably requires the finesse of arriving s…l…o…w…l…y so everyone can drink in your fabulousness.

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Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe

At some point, your ego and net worth have grown so massive and your insecurities so equally vast that you need to arrive in one of these: a 6-5-liter, V12-powered, teak-embroidered slab of pure opulence tricked out with suicide doors.

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Spyker C12 Zagato concept
When you’re a madly wealthy and talented Dutch carmaker you can: rest on your laurels and keep churning out a handful of $200,000+ cars a year. Or you can hook up with Italian sheet-metal shapers Zagato and design something madly weird like a scissor-doored sport coupe with a 500-horsepower, 6-literW-12 engine and sell only 24 of them at $648,000 each.
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2009 Ford Flex Limited
This long, blocky yet somehow graceful-looking bloatwagon debuts this summer at a base price of $28,700. For $38,920, you can trick it out with all-wheel drive, and the Limited trim package, which includes heated leather front and rear seats, Sirius radio, power liftgate, and 19-inch polished aluminum wheels. If you get really nuts with the optional add-ons, Autoblog says, you can spend $46,170.
Ford’s promising better-than-usual gas mileage for something that can tow 4,000 pounds, but actual EPA numbers for it are hard to Google at the moment.
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Volkswagen space Up! Blue concept
I’ll end with another would-be ScionXB-killer. VW’s trim little micro-van is meant to be powered by hydrogen and plug-in lithium batteries, with a solar charger in the roof and a promised electric-only range of 65 miles. It has lovely roof-line portholes, evoking the early-60s Vee-Dub microbus.

If I ever get over my irrational desire to buy and restore a Citroen DS, I could see getting one of these … provided California figures out the tricky business of storing and selling hydrogen.

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A ton more photos – I’ll add them a few hours from now. Meantime, check out Frazgo’s take on what’s wrong with American carmakers as evidenced by the stuff they’re spinning on turntables downtown this week.

Oh, by the way – you remember all the hallucinogenic design concepts entered in the Robocar 2057-themed Design Challenge competition?

The utterly weird and implausible VW Slipstream – a hive-mind concept that would give Aldous Huxley actual hives – just won it today.

Here are the hours:

Show Dates
Friday, November 16 – Sunday, November 25, 2007

Show Hours
Friday, Nov 16: 11am – 10pm
Saturdays: 9am – 10pm
Sundays: 9am – 8pm
Mon – Weds: 11am – 10pm
Thanksgiving Day: 9am – 8pm
Friday, Nov 23: 9am – 10pm

The show entrance closes one hour prior to the show closing.

Tickets
Adults: $10.00 (cash only)
Children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult
Seniors (65+): $7.00 Fri., Nov. 16 – Thurs., Nov. 22 (cash only)

Ticket sales close one hour prior to show closing each night.

4 Replies to “Monsters ‘n’ Jellybeans 2008 – the obligatory L.A. Auto Show Photo-gasm”

  1. Great write up Mack. I like your take on the show. I liked the various Volvo C30 iterations, I want one too as it is so much like the P1800 but I have to get a few kids grown up and out of the house to do that.

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