NY Auto show(long, a few rants)

Brett Dikeman brett at cloud9.net
Sun Mar 31 15:26:17 EST 2002

NY Auto World was absolutely packed yesterday to the gills.  It was
so packed, it was hard to move around in almost any booth, with some
exceptions(see yawn chart.)

With apologies to Messer Justusson...

Top on the gawk-factor chart:

-Ford.  New GT40.  Gorgeous machine, and a really, really nice update
to the original.  Huge crowd, just sitting there staring goes "wow,
wow, wow, wow" to themselves...particularly those who were around
when the original GT40 was racing.

-Mercedes.  The SL55 AMG.  500-something HP supercharged V8.  Classy
styling.  But filthy.  Nobody was keeping it clean, and it showed,
from 20-30 feet away(there was some sort of fuzz/dust settling on
everything.)  Yeesh.

-Jaguar(uh, I mean, Jag-i-u-ar :-)...their R-coupe concept; very
classy.  Cute union jack shaped chrome grilles in the fender vents :-)

-Mini.  People just couldn't get enough.  They had a Cooper S up on a
platform about 10-20 feet up, and it was obvious why; you couldn't
see any more than about 2 feet of the Cooper+Cooper S on the floor
because there were just so many people.  That thing is going to be so
hot it's not even funny; it's the first small, affordable city car
that's got great build quality and great looks...and has enough
options to qualify as a mid-luxury car.  I always heard people around
me say they want a small, economical(ie mileage, reasonably
affordable) but very nice car.  VW has sort of filled that market a
little, but the Mini has a lot of higher end options like HID lights
etc...and VW is viewed too much as an economy brand(hence all the
work on making the Passat look really nice and marketing it as such
etc.)  I think the Mini/BMW thing is going to help Mini a lot in the
image department...BMW doesn't have VW's image problem.

-Porsche.  GT2.  Crowd of people, just politely admiring it.  We were
all yakking about the brakes. In particular, the whole 911 series
just doesn't push any of my buttons anymore(never really has in the
first place.)

Top of the yawn-chart:

-Chevy(well, make that the entire American-brand GM lineup.)  Only
thing that even remotely attracted attention was the pop-out tail
light on their retro sports car, don't recall the name(based on the
S10 platform, which is a total joke for a sports car; right down to
the red paint it looked like a jacked up brick with wheels.)
Otherwise, people just walked right through without a second glance
at any of the cars.

-Daewoo.  Looked very nice on the showroom floor, but they're crappy
cars nonetheless and they were delegated off to a tent building next
to the main convention area(actually, the joke is that cars always
look best under such lighting, since it's very even etc.)  They
probably couldn't afford space inside.   Two very bored looking reps
from the home office; felt sorry for 'em...talk about being the

-Land Rover.  Okay, so you're the last company on the planet to make
a mini-ute(pathetic for a company like LR), and you made the other
two SUVs you sell more boxy with stupid looking headlights.  Big
whoop de doo.

Top of the what-the-hell-is-that chart:

-Mercedes' stretched limo/sports car/SUV.  Ugly, un-classy styling.
Suicide doors.  22+ inch tires.  About 50% too big in almost every
direction for any parking space, garage, or road I've ever seen.

-Scion.  Their concept car actually looked pretty decent, very
stylish, but the scheduled-for-production
gas-powered-subwoofer-box-with-wheels looked like a very square,
shrunk down, mass-market-Japanese-hipsterized Chevy Astro van.  The
best was when the kid(dressed to look like a hip rebel raver type)
told us that Scion was a "independent subsidiary of Toyota in
California, based off a unique and independent platform like
Lexus"(or some marketing BS like that.)  Me: "Lexus is based off a
unique and independent platform?  You've got to be joking."  Kid just
sort of shrugged.  It was particularly funny because the van was
obviously 100% Japanese styling...nothing "California" or "American"
about it.

-The Tonka edition F350 series.  Uh, burly guys don't buy toy-looking
things.  Why are you people marketing a truck to 10 year olds? :-)

Top of the put-it-back-in-its-not-quite-fully-baked chart:

-Chevy concept truck, with rather unprofessional
ripped-from-spiral-notebook signs that read "do not open doors" taped
to each handle on one side of the truck.  As Larry put it, "Hmm,
because they might fall off?" :-)

-Lexus concept car.  Crowd catcher, but for the wrong reasons;
absolutely hideous.  It looked like the typical streamlined
single-seat-pod-thing-with-wheels concept, just a whole lot uglier
and more unrealistic design.  Further, there wasn't a real thing
about it; no glass, no mechanicals.  Looked like it was made out of
foam.  About as concept as they get.

Top of the its-an-auto-show-not-a-web-site chart(ie,
locked/platformed cars that should have been on the ground, unlocked
for people to get in+look around):

-Porsche.  Every single model, windows up, doors locked.  Come on
guys...you're rolling in the dough so much, you could have had a nice
big burly rep with each car to make sure there wasn't any mischief
and to answer questions.  Every kid(10 to 60) wanted to get in one.
I mean, come on, not even the Boxster?

-Land Rover(both discovery and Range Rover were locked; uh...why?)
Not a single rep to be seen, period.  Winners of the "we went home
early"(first day of the show) award.

-Lexus(GX-something-or-other.)  I got the feeling it was more to get
people into the dealership to really see it, or because they wanted
to give the image that it was more exclusive/show-car-ish that it
really is.  Some fake blond in really gross colored leather just
standing next to it on the platform smiling.  I guess Lexus now
offers the Trophy Wife option with the GX too, not just the SC :-)

-Audi(the Cabriolet was on a platform; the TT s-line and S8 were both
locked) I don't think the S4 was there; if so, there's simply no
excuse given that BMW had the M3 coupe and convertible AND the M5 on
the floor and unlocked(same reason it was inexcusable for the S8 and
TT to be locked.)  Oh, and did I mention that not a single Audi rep
was actually doing anything except standing around looking important?
There were a few very sharply dressed people looking -very- imposing,
severe, and like they did NOT want to be there; as a result, not a
single person approached them...and from being in the crowd, there
were plenty of confused or curious people with questions and such.
If I had been running that booth, I would have had people NOT dressed
in 3 piece suits or hiding behind the counter, they would have been
standing right next to the cars(not off up against a wall of the
booth or behind the counters), saying things like "would you like to
step inside?" or "would you like to know anything about this car?"
etc.  So typical of the way many Audi dealerships work, too.  Igor
said he walked into a dealership wearing an Audi-logo'd jacket and
with a folder marked "quattro" tucked under one arm, standing around
with a "someone please come talk to me" look at the front of the
dealership, and was completely ignored by dealership sales staff.)  I
was severely disappointed.  It's like they've gone asleep at the
switch thinking that they can coast because they had a top sales
year.  Uh, no.

-Mitsubishi.  There was an Evo there, but it was locked.  What the
hell kind of cruel joke is that?  So many people were surprised to
find it locked, so clearly it shouldn't have been.  There wasn't a
big crowd, just people who knew to go looking for it(it was on the
lower level) or stumbled across it and knew instantly what it was;
would it have killed them to have a company rep there to watch over
the rather small, manageable crowd of polite, drooling onlookers?
Besides, not like there's anything valuable in the interior; this is
a Lancer we're talking about here.  I managed to get a few shots of
the interior if people are interested; it was a RHD, among other
things.  I think I just added the Evo to my list of cars I'd love to
have.  Oh, the OZ-Rallye edition was next to the Evo on display.
What a total joke.

-VW(GTI was on a rotating platform so high you couldn't even see into
the interior.  It's not even remotely pricey, guys...you could have
afforded to write one off, and at the very least, you could have made
it less than 4 feet off the ground.)  They did have a friendly guy
standing next to a nicely done cutaway of the W8, however, happy to
explain its workings..but still...everyone was dying to get closer to
the GTI.  It smacked of Lexus's putting the GX up on a platform too.

-Mercury.  The Maurauder Coupe(!) and sedan were on platforms.  Come
on, guys...really.  Still, as I said to Igor, as far as bad mofo cars
go, the Maurauder pushes -all- the right buttons in terms of styling;
aggressive front, blacked out grille nicely done, just the right
chrome accents.  Lincoln continental, step aside as the top "bad ass"
car :-)  Mmmmm(hey, its just like an American version of the Big
Baby, ok?  I'll live with the non-metalic black, ok? :)

Top of the we-don't-care-we-want-you-to-see-the-cars list:

-BMW.  Absolutely every single production model(including the M5) was
open and on the floor(including bikes, which people could get on!);
the Z8 was on display but roped off and on a slightly-too-high
platform.  The largest # of cars and they were all the most
accessible, even the Z8(ropes were pretty close to the car.)  The
745i display was the most fun; you could stand on the rotating
platform that was ground-level.  Nothing like having someone turn
around and see you glide by them just standing there smiling at them.
It was the biggest conversation topic(aside from "ugh, look at it...")

-Saab.  Same thing as BMW; 9X concept car was the only thing not
accessible.  Styling updates across the lineup look nice, too; big
improvement over the bland GM-inspired 900(which looked like a
Cavalier more than anything) etc.

-Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, etc...for obvious reasons.

Top of the poser list:

-Maseratti, Lotus, Ferrari, etc.  Each had a few "invited guest"
types hanging around looking incredibly bored but obviously enjoying
the thousands of people thinking "those people must be important"
High budget posing, but posing nonetheless.

Top of the you-need-a-lesson-in-PR list:

-Aston Martin.  Taka joked with a late 60s lady company rep, very
blue blood type...but her smile etc ended when Taka(who had patiently
been waiting for several minutes to get a clear shot) politely asked
if she could ask the two gents to move away from the front of the
car, spinning on the platform.  She  snapped "I can't do that" and
turned away and ignored him.  Taka's response: "Man, what a..."  He
was right.

Most heavenly moment:

-dinner.  Went to a NJ deli/resteraunt with the Audifans/S-car-list
crowd, and they had a pickle bar complete with my all-time-favorite
pickle, the cucumber dill.  And they were -enormous-.  Damn biggest
pickle I've ever seen, larger than a dollar bill.  Mmmmmm.

"They that give up essential liberty to obtain temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Ben Franklin

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