Monday, April 16, 2007

2007 New York International Auto Show

This past weekend, my wife and I went to what's become an annual rite for us: the New York International Auto Show (or "Autoshow," as the sign says). Yeah, I'm one of those lucky guys with a wife that actually likes cars.

I'm pretty sure this is our third. We skipped last year because I was in too much post-surgical pain, but that's another story.

If you've never been to the NY "Autoshow", it's pretty amazing in a lot of ways. The first thing about it is that it's always freakin' packed. It doesn't help that we always go on weekends, and this time we went the day before a major storm that everybody knew was coming. There had to be about 200,000 people there at the same time we were. I mean you can't even walk.

The second thing is the Javits Center, which is odd in that it's both way too small for this event, but also freakin' huge. Now, I've been to Tokyo - I've been to both the Big Site and the Makuhari Messe, and they are HUMONGOUS. I've also been to the L.A. Convention Center, which is also pretty big. Javits isn't that big. But it's still a giant glass and steel structure that dwarfs any other indoor public space in Manhattan.

The third thing is obviously the cars. Now, this year I forgot my camera, which was a goddamn travesty, but at least my wife brought hers. She actually took most of these shots. I just wish we'd gotten more.

Check it out, Camaro convertible:

I gotta admit, I've been a Camaro guy all my life, but I'm more excited about the new Dodge Challenger. Something about the new Camaro looks a little too modern-day Chevy to me, which isn't a good thing. The Challenger's all retro except for that hemi engine. We actually were really hoping to see the Challenger (we missed it last year), but Dodge apparently forgot to bring it.

They did bring some sort of badass Dodge Viper SRT10, as if the stock Viper SRT10 isn't badass enough:

Here's the Dodge Demon:

Actually a pretty hot looking little car.

For you import guys, Lexus had a new hybrid sports car there:

No, that's not the same car as the Toyota FT-HS, at least not the same sheetmetal. The Toyota was there as well, and it looked kinda butt. Honestly, I wasn't too impressed with the look of this Lexus, either - I'm just not a huge fan of Japanese concept designs. I do like their more practical, real-world car designs, just not their sports and concept cars. They look to much like spaceships, not something you drive on a road.

I gotta point out one thing. You see that finish? That's silver paint. It should be stainless steel or aluminum. Doesn't look right to me.

Here's an overview of the Ferrari booth:

See now, this I just don't get. Ferraris are nice cars, and expensive. But every year, they bring like three models to the floor, and about half the crowd is gathered around them at any one time. WTF? None of these people could afford one, so they're just there to look - but you can walk into a Ferrari showroom any day of the week and see one of these. Meanwhile, there are literally dozens of upcoming models or concept cars on the floor that you can never see otherwise, just sitting there all day long.

This was pretty cool - GM is testing out designs of their "smart cars", which to me look a whole lot like the little cars you see driving around all over Japan these days:

Here I am in the all-new 2008 Mini Cooper S:

I love this car. I haven't even driven one, but just sitting in it, I can tell it's everything I want in a car. I'm 6'4, and it's really difficult to find a car that's comfortable in all dimensions - enough legroom, enough headroom, enough back support, and with the controls at exactly the right positions while still giving me a good view out the windshield. Almost no car gets it right, whatever the price. The Mini Cooper does. It's almost unbelievable that such a small car could be so comfortable for a guy my size. Just look at how relaxed I am. It feels really big inside.

Here's another '08 Cooper S, so you can see the full car - along with a couple of goofballs waving to our camera:

I've been a fan of the Mini styling ever since BMW reintroduced the brand name a few years ago, and that goes for both the interior and exterior. The 2008 redesign just makes a good thing better. If I have anything to say about it, this is going to be my next car. Did I mention it's a car we can actually afford? And that even the turbocharged Cooper S gets 34mpg? (The stock model - without the "S" - gets 40mpg!)

My wife is not so practical. If she could have her way, we'd have one of these:

It's the new Jaguar XKR, my wife's new true love. $86,000, if I remember right. I sat in an XK - the coupe version of this car - and I wasn't that impressed. I felt cramped, and I literally tripped over the deck getting into the car. I wasn't the only one, because the liner was completely ripped up from the hundreds of other people who had obviously done the same thing.

Honestly, one thing I came away with from this show was how much I still love our 2006 PT Cruiser. The 2005 auto show was what finally convinced us to buy one, and it's still better looking (inside and out) and way more comfortable than any other car in its class. It's not perfect, but then you can't expect perfection for $14,500. But it is cute as hell, it's got a great retro-futuristic interior (updated for the '06 model year) and tons of leg- and headroom. And it was great in our move to the new house - it hauls an obscene amount of junk. Still, someday we'll want a second car, or an upgrade/replacement. So the PT's not going to be our last car.

We'll be back next year to see what's up. I've still gotta put myself inside a Dodge Challenger - maybe it'll pull me back from the brink of Mini-dom.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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