Yesterday, a group of CarGurus personnel attended the press preview for the 2007 New England International Auto Show. For those of you who haven’t gone to a press preview, that means an event where the cars perhaps outnumber the people. And since this was the first time it was held in the new Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, it almost reminded me of a sci-fi movie.
In this one, earth is inhabited by machines, and humans are few and far between. The machines all roll on perfectly clean, mostly large tires, have flawlessly waxed bodies, and are of a higher intelligence level than the zombie-like humans who are left – otherwise, why would the humans go around wide-eyed, paying the greatest of respects to these machines, photographing them from every conceivable angle, and listening to other humans spout mostly nonsensical words of adulation (aka marketing talk) about the machines, while the machines just sit and stare blankly until a journalist pays her/his respects with a flash and gets acknowledged with a headlight or taillight wink?
You, the general automotive enthusiast public, however, will have a very different experience. Pouring through those glass doors at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, attendees will outnumber the machines. You will vie for chances to touch, sit in, and play with the controls of the machines. You will let your excitement flash when you see, in the “flesh,” the fabulous new Nissan GT-R supercar – yes, it came to Boston direct from Tokyo (and it’s a right-hand drive version)! This car is probably one of the fastest machines in the great hall, but it can be driven by anyone, anyplace, anytime. As Nissan likes to boast, try that with your Z06 in a Boston snowstorm. After all, the GT-R has all-wheel drive.
And, yes, the 2008 Corvette Z06 is also there, along with its movie-star buddy, the new Camaro – in the same great yellow zinger makeup it wore in the movie “Transformers.” And Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger fans will also be excited, as the latest editions of your heroes are also waiting for you.
Moving around in that cavernous hall (you may want to wear hiking shoes and bring water) you might or might not recognize the Japanese “muscle car” that can show its taillights to most American nostalgia burners either at the drag strip or through the twisties – and this one isn’t the GT-R, which is much further up the Mt. Olympus of performance. This car is a four-door sedan, built by a Japanese manufacturer of luxury sedans that can go head-to-head with the best Teutonic sports sedans. V8-powered, with an eight-speed “automatic” transmission that can outshift a Ferrari (those are also in attendance), and more beautiful than any metal sculpture has the right to be, this Japanese “muscle car” costs a hell of a lot less and gets a hell of a lot better gas mileage than Italy’s finest.
It’s the Lexus IS F! Why not drive in full comfort as you blow off almost everything outside the sub-4-second 0-to-60 level of supercars? The IS F has 416 horsepower and a race-tuned suspension with Lexus comfort and quality – amazing.
Subaru is also there with its new WRX STi, along with a full-fledged Subie rally car. Its “dark” rival, the EVO X, unfortunately, didn’t show. But BMW has the new V8 M3 on site – a natural rival to the brand-new Lexus IS F. Figuring out which to buy will be a hard choice for those who can afford one.
Those with less need for speed and more cargo to carry can check the great MINI Cooper Clubman – those rear mini-barn doors are neat. And they are neighbors in the great hall to the beautiful – almost Italian in its fluid lines – Audi S5 and the incredible Audi R8.
Are you a Saab fan? Check out the limited-edition 2008 Saab Turbo X. You won’t have to sit through the droning corporate adulation we journalists did just to see it. (Or the even worse corporate-speak presented at the journalists’ luncheon – what we writers must do to eat!)
So be happy – you’ll be among fellow enthusiasts, and that’s what really makes a car show, not acres of open space with more cars than people. Those machines need us!
– Albert A. Dalia