The 2008 Dallas Auto Show. Yes, Dallas.

William C Montgomery
by William C Montgomery
the 2008 dallas auto show yes dallas

My personal highlight of Last year’s Dallas Auto Show was watching Sajeev work his magic on GM’s regional marketing director. He’d met her at the Houston Auto Show some weeks earlier, where they’d had a productive conversation. Apparently the Powers That Be within GM didn’t think that was a good idea. She was talking gaily with other scribes when we approached her. When she turned to greet us, her face darkened the moment she recognized the dashing Mr. Mehta. Visibly agitated, she hissed, “I can’t talk to you,” spun on her heels and scurried away. After a moment of stunned silence I asked TTAC’s lonely lothario, “Do you have that effect on all women?”

My, how I do love telling that story. Sadly, work commitments kept my friend, Don Juan Mehta, in Houston this year. So I flew solo at the 2008 DAS.

To put things in perspective, the press preview day at the DAS draws about twenty print journalists and a couple of local TV crews. Meanwhile, the press preview for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit lasts three days and attracts some 6000 media people from around the world. More than one-hundred new products were “revealed” at NAIAS. I counted one at the DAS. Celebrities, industry big wigs, and politicians vie to be seen in Detroit. In Dallas, all I saw was a small group of aging, overweight, balding, vertically challenged, writers wearing sensible shoes.

While less of a spectacle, the intimacy of the DAS provides far greater access to the objects that we’re all there to see: the cars. Aston Martin would never allow thousands of clamoring critics crawl all over their lusty DBS. Yet they are perfectly willing to permit twenty of us to sit behind the wheel and fantasize about violently ordering all 510 horses to the rear wheels, stat!

A few moments of solitude behind the wheel of the DB9 Coupe found me awed by authentic interior materials and old world craftsmanship. The aluminum instruments and bezels are actually aluminum, not plastic (plastichrome). The clock crystal is crystal, not plastic. Wood accents are really wood, not plastic. The headliner is suede, not plastic. The leather upholstery is leather, not plastic (vinyl). The sense of luxury was so powerful that I forgave the car’s narrow foot wells and niggling ergonomic design flaws.

With Aston Martin still fresh in my mind, I wandered to Cadillac and sat my butt in the XLR-V. The home team didn’t fare well in comparison. Despite the marked improvement by GM’s flagship brand, it’s clear how far Caddy still needs to go before it has a truly world class interior.

While both marques employ leather, AM’s cows certainly have a better dermatologist. I suppose it’s unfair to compare an exclusive hand-built car to one rolling off a mass-production assembly line. But GM chose to play in the $100K end of the pool and right now they’re in over their heads.

The only hint of controversy on the day came at the Hummer press conference. I meekly asked how Hummer planned to combat the rising drumbeat of accusations that the planet is being ravaged by enormous gas-guzzling SUVs, of which the H2 is the poster child. “Or is Hummer content to say ‘screw you’ to the rest of the world.” Okay, maybe that part of my question came out a little harsh.

Like a seventh-degree judo black belt, GM’s mouthpiece, a third-tier marketing manager, skillfully parried the question and deftly avoided giving me anything interesting to write about-– some unapologetic diatribe about customer satisfaction and that their customer’s don’t care about being perceived as gluttonous.

My surprise came from the woman who stepped up beside me. To the satisfaction of Mr. Goodwrench, she began a vigorous defense of Hummer, citing its excellent fuel economy relative to others in its class. At first I thought the interloper was another GM hired gun. But the shabbiness of her appearance confirmed that she was, in fact, another journalist. I wouldn’t have minded her input if a group of us were having drinks and sharing war stories. But I was at the press conference to hear what The General has to say, thank you very much.

Perhaps this is further evidence of the enmeshed relationship between automotive news makers and the [supposed] watchdogs in the press corps. Or maybe this was just a run-in with a mad old cow with an irrepressible impulse to rudely butt in and speak for companies with whom she has no affiliation.

And thus ended another DAS press preview day. I left with a bag of swag (including a jar of Super Hot HEMI Powered Barbeque Sauce), a camera full of hi-res pix, and memories of a few new cars for cubicle daydreaming, both mine and yours.

[ Click here for William C. Montgomery's DAS Pixamo photo gallery ]

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  • William C Montgomery William C Montgomery on Apr 10, 2008
    Are they as good or better performance wise as the Caddy while offering a better interior as well? I don't think the DB9 Coupe will outperform the Caddy. Yet I know which one I'd rather own. If it's purely about performance, there are many faster cars for a lot less money. But to your question, yes, I can think of some BMWs, Mercedes (AMG), Lexus', Porsche's, and Audi's that offer similar performance with greater interior luxury for $100K or less.

  • Bozoer Rebbe Bozoer Rebbe on Apr 10, 2008
    Aston Martin would never allow thousands of clamoring critics crawl all over their lusty DBS. Have you ever worked the NAIAS media preview? Rolls and Lambo are a bit choosy about who gets to sit in the cars, R-R particularly so, but Aston pretty much allowed free access to the press. They weren't at Detroit this year, most likely because they're out of the Ford orbit, but I expect them to return next year as the show organizers are going to expand the "Gallery", a private reception during the media preview for rich folks who buy expensive cars. Sometimes there's nobody in the A-M booth and the cars are locked, but most of the time they let the journalists check out the view from behind the wheel and will pop the hood or trunk if you ask. I've had a harder time getting to sit in a Lotus than an Aston.

  • Olddavid I do not know how to evaluate an automobile any longer. It seems all the selling points valued by the customer base are non-starters in my book. Two tons plus for this vehicle? $50,000 for a Dodge branded Alfa Romeo that cannot sell its heritage to American buyers anyway? Is there any compelling argument for a walk-in to be turned to a buyer by excitement alone? This does not have the ingredients to end well, and that grieves me as I have been a Chrysler fan since they had pushbuttons and slant sixes. Being an elderly me has been difficult lately as I have been a NIssan fan, too, since I first saw that odd Bluebird and we have seen their fortunes edging to free fall territory. What's next? My gramophone breaking?
  • SCE to AUX "maximize commonality on the assembly line"That's code for 'fewer options', which means the manual transmission is done for good. Less tooling, less training, fewer ECU code variants = lower cost and higher quality.I'm sure Ford's new quality guy agrees... or perhaps he thought of it.
  • Carrera Hmm..a Stelantis vehicle made in Italy. What can go wrong? I am sure it will be super reliable, particularly the first 3-4 years of production.
  • Kwik_Shift Manuals are great theft deterrents though. 😉Sad when they're disappearing from many makes.
  • Arthur Dailey Confession here. 2 of the previous generation Rogues in our family over the past 5 years. Saw some cost cutting between the 1st and the 2nd one. On the 'new' one there are no cubbies on the back of the front seats, the ignition is not lit, and there is a marked difference in the front seats. The first Rogue has the most comfortable seats I have experienced since the heyday of the PLCs. Despite sciatica could drive that Rogue for hours with no issues. The seats on the 2nd Rogue create discomfort after 30 minutes. And everyone in the family has noticed this.The first Rogue drove seamlessly. Quiet and comfortable on the highway. On both we have averaged just over 29 mpg. The 2nd Rogue needs to be warmed up and driven slowly if left out overnight in minus 30 (f) or -0 (c) weather, otherwise the engine just revs and the speed does not seem to increase. The dealer has been asked to look at this multiple times but each time they claim that there is no issue. It also has the worst Bluetooth interface I have experienced. Otherwise, based on size, cost, the Rogues were chosen over Toyota/Honda. Both were/are leased so not concerned about long term values/reliability. And the 'new' Rogue came standard with heated seats and blind spot warning, which the Toyota/Honda did not without going up a couple of packages.However we should have bought out the first Rogue when the lease ended. During the height of the pandemic, it could have easily been flipped for close to double the buyout cost.