This past weekend, I attended an auto show for the first time in four years. For my family – a bunch of car guys – it was an automotive heaven, a vehicular Mecca, a place to see the newest of the new and speculate about the most current trends in the business. But while I was there, I couldn’t help wishing more of my friends had been interested enough to come along.
I’ve grown quite used to the idea that, in our current stage of life, many in our age group aren’t very enthused about cars. Our generation is not like previous ones in that, exciting cars are commonly too costly, and fix-it-yourselfers are hindered by over-intrusive electronic nannies intertwined with cars’ computers.
So why should we go see a bunch of cars parked inside a building?
If you have any interest in cars whatsoever – whether you like them for the go-fast potential or the sleek, sexy styling; whether you get your kicks from attaining high mpg’s or you simply find enjoyment in executing your A to B routine – you must make it your goal to attend an auto show at least once.
If you are attending simply for the sake of seeing cars in person, you may get more than you bargained for. These shows give you the chance to get up-close to some of the newest cars on the market; attendants are allowed to open doors, climb inside, experience the feel of the car, test out driver features and more. It’s like being in a new car showroom, but without the annoyance of a pesky salesman breathing down your neck.
But auto shows aren’t just a place to see new cars that are already on the market; in fact, many of the cars showcased are still concepts or in a pre-production stage. Because of this, automakers tend to experiment with wild conceptual ideas. From cars like the outlandish Hyundai Elantra Zombie Survival Machine to the cartoonish Chevy Turbo Camaro, imagination tends to find its outlet here.
The entertaining exhibits offered at auto shows also cater to more interests than cars. For example, at the 2013 Chicago auto show, video game geeks would find enjoyment in Cadillac’s virtual driving simulator, which showcased the CTS race car. Users could climb into a moving, vibrating machine with real driving pedals and a high-tech steering wheel, which simulated driving on an actual race track – Road Atlanta – and responded to the driver’s every move with a moving chair and controls.
Chrysler and Toyota also had exhibits at the Chicago show. Chrysler had two tracks set up for show attendants to test drive their vehicles; one which showcased sharp inclines and rough terrain for drivers to test the capability of Jeeps and Ram trucks, the other which utilized a short – but sweet – straight of concrete for the sporty vehicles from SRT to show off their rapid acceleration abilities. Toyota’s track set up more of a Sunday drive type atmosphere to let attendants experience the cars’ smoothness and comfort.
With all the events being offered, auto shows today are becoming more about experiencing and connecting with new cars and technologies than simply looking at them, and more interactive exhibits are being introduced each year.
Attending a show is easier than making a trip to a big city like Chicago or Detroit. This weekend, Dayton will offer its own 2013 auto show, like it has for years, in the Dayton Convention Center. If you want to check out some of the latest and greatest in the auto industry, and really get a chance to experience these cars, now is your chance.