At the State Fair Grounds in Raleigh this weekend is the “2007 North Carolina International Auto Expo”. With all that you would think that you would have to elbow your way past celebrities and paparazzi just to get to the ticket box. Well not here in the center of the American universe.
For a paltry seven dollars the gates are opened to all and a plethora of automobilia is at your feet.
I watched as a pair of attendees sit in a Lexus convertible that pretended to have four usable seats. The woman was in the drivers seat being wowed by the flat screen technology as her partner proceeded to compress her originally large purse as he adjusted the leather seat into every position imaginable. She had obviously thrown her purse behind the passenger seat as they got in to try out the car, but by the time they left it and all of its contents were compressed to the thickness of a sheet of paper.
Ford had a sparkling silver Shelby car that kept the “rag guys” busy. It didn’t matter that the car was roped off – it was still a magnet for fingers to feel. It was a very impressive car and the floor mats showed that it wasn’t just a roller. It pretended to have a rear window, too.
Chip Foose does more than produce a show about surprise restorations of muscle cars. He has put his mark on a Mustang redesign – Oh yes, and his price tag, too.
The real magnet of the show was Lotus. There is a lone dealership located in Durham, NC that has shown their cars here in over the last three years and people go nuts when they see them. And why shouldn’t they. These are the sexiest machines on the planet.
Jeep is probably the only brand of Daimler-Chrysler that isn’t having a problem with sales. Their show car the Hurricane was there in all its carbon fiber. Carbon fiber has become the definition of high performance in the last couple of years. Where once it was relegated to a few noticeable trim pieces it now compromises entire bodies.
Not your father’s Jeep.
Then there is the ever present retro look and Dodge had their Kahuna. It is a toast to the sixties era of surfers and their woodie ‘wagons. Nice concept.
One very disappointing trend is the disappearance of the engine compartment. Once upon a time the phrase was ” let’s see under the hood”. It would open to reveal the complexities of the multiple interacting systems that was the heart of power. Unfortunately today you open a hood to reveal…
Lucky for us the folks at Corvette haven’t gone to that extreme as this view of the new Z06 seven litre engine compartment shows.
In addition to the cars on the floor Toyota had an “Off Road On Site Adventure” where they had carved out a muddy off road course to show the capabilities of their four wheel drive line up. A friend of mine and I stood in line battling the stiff breeze (NC temporarily lost its 80 degree weather a couple of days ago) for the opportunity to crawl along the course. It was impressive to see how these cars with excellent street manners can still traverse some nasty road conditions.
I would have rathered that they set up a rally course and let us take out a Subaru WRX STI and and Evolution MR for some fun. Fat chance.