I have dreamed of going to the North American International Auto Show for about fifteen years. I watch all the TV coverage every year and imagine walking through the show, perhaps rubbing elbows with the automotive brass. In particular I have always wanted to attend the charity preview. Over the years, it has raised millions of dollars for children’s charities in the Detroit area. Going meant so much to me I even put it on my bucket list. Well, I finally went!
Okay, so, I didn’t go to the charity preview; instead Mom, Dad, and I headed to Cobo Arena for the industry preview. It was the perfect way to check out the Auto Show, and I am more than willing to cross going to the Auto Show off my bucket list! While the industry preview lacks the black-tie glitz and glamour of the Charity preview, the ticket price is also about two-thirds lower and it’s even less crowded than the fancy event.
In typical Michigan fashion, it was a gross, snowy, frigid day. So bad, in fact, we came very close to simply staying home (have I mentioned how badly I want to move). We persevered and the drive down wasn’t too bad. Of course, in typical Detroit fashion, parking was a nightmare. The garages and lots near Cobo were for reserved parking only. Luckily Dad, being the amazing guy he is, dropped Mom and me at the door and went to park in the Joe Louis Arena garage a little ways away.
The industry preview is for people who work in the automotive industry to check out the Show before the general public. Both Mom and Dad used to work for Ford, and there seemed to be no restrictions on who could purchase the tickets, so even though we aren’t quite industry professionals, we went. There were only a fraction of the people there as on a public day, but still the Show was quite crowded. I can’t imagine going on a public day. It was smaller than we imagined, but very easy to navigate, especially with the map provided to us.
We headed pretty much straight to the Ford exhibit while we waited for Dad. We all may be a bit biased but the Ford exhibit was really the most impressive. It seemed like a little Auto Show all by itself. The Mustangs and F-150s were featured prominently. There was even a working assembly line that made actual car parts during the Show. Lincoln was near the back of the Ford display. It was very sleek and modern. The old Lincoln on display and the cool geometric decorations were my favorite. Against all the odds, Mom actually ran into an old friend from Ford. Sometimes the world is indeed very small.
We covered the whole Show. Mercedes was cool, so was Bentley, though their cars were all blocked off. I’m rather Bentley obsessed, so it was a bit of a disappointment to not be able to get up close and personal to their cars. Cadillac had a really awesome display with sleek looking cars. The paint on one of them was so sparkly – just my kind of color! I could definitely see myself riding around town in a BMW or Porsche. What is rather amazing is that the show is built from the ground up each year. All of the displays, the different floor materials, the lighting, everything is new every year, and all of the displays look markedly different each year.
Then it was back to the Big Three as we checked out the Chrysler display. I have always loved 300s, and up close and personal they are even cooler, especially the blue one. Concept cars are always one of the best parts of the show, though there were fewer this year than in years past. However, this Dodge SRT was enough to satisfy my concept car cravings. I can never get enough of the Chargers and Challengers either.
Of course, heading over to GM, the Corvette’s aren’t too shabby either. Who wouldn’t want to
speed drive the speed limit down the road in one of those? Or perhaps a Camaro, which has never looked better. Interestingly, there are tons of people walking around each exhibit cleaning cars. The vast majority are out in the open, allowing people to touch and even sit in the cars, but the companies work hard to make sure the cars still look great, as everyone has a phone or camera out taking pictures.
Each company also has product specialists that are there to answer questions and help people figure out if a particular car would be a good fit for them. After all what’s an Auto Show if it doesn’t help sell some cars? A quick tour through Jaguar and Land Rover and we felt like we’d seen all there was to see within about an hour and a half. Dad headed back to get the car while Mom and I picked up some souvenirs.
Hitting the road at four, we figured it wouldn’t be too bad of a drive home, but with the snow that had been accumulating all day and was still falling, it took nearly three hours (no exaggeration) to get home when in ideal conditions it should take about thirty minutes. That is a long time to be in a car, and we all wanted nothing more than to get home. Dad handled the roads incredibly well and got us home safe and sound. It would be easy for all of us to say we wish we hadn’t gone, to be beyond frustrated over the traffic, but that is not the case. It was a wonderful day and a wonderful show! We are all so glad we went. I feel very lucky to still be able to make memories like this with my parents. Who knows, maybe we’ll even go again next year! If you are in the Detroit area and interested, the show is open to the public until January 26.