By on October 18, 2018

For those of you who haven’t been to the press days of one of the major American auto shows (Detroit, New York, Chicago, LA), I’ll briefly describe what they are like: many, many parties, a lot of free alcohol, and very little to do with cars. I mean, yeah, there are some cars present, but nobody really looks at them or talks about them. All the press materials are sent in advance so that websites (like this one) can publish their stories en masse as soon as whatever artificial embargo is in place expires. The cars don’t really even need to be there. I enjoy going to the New York International Auto Show for one reason — it’s in New York. If you put it in Peoria, Bark ain’t going.

Local auto shows, however, serve a completely different purpose. The idea of the local auto show in your town is that it allows you to see all of the cars you might be considering for purchase in one place. Or, if you’re a car geek, you can just go look at all of the stuff that you normally would have to have a lot more money to be allowed to look at in person. When I was growing up in Columbus, Ohio, I eagerly anticipated the auto show every year. I remember my dad begrudgingly taking me to the show, just so I could walk around Veterans Memorial Auditorium and see things like the Chevrolet Citation Coupe Concept and maybe even sit in a Trans Am for a few seconds before the Pontiac booth guy kicked me out.

So it was with that same sense of excitement that I went to the Miami International Auto Show last week. It was the first time in over a decade that I had the chance to go to a car show as a member of the general public — no name badge around my neck, no glad-handing PR reps, no hordes of automotive “journalists” obstructing my view of the cars with their ridiculous camera rigs. It was going to be an opportunity to see cars, man.

An hour later, I left the massive Miami Beach Convention Center feeling more sad than anything else. The local car show, as I knew it, appears to be dead.

The Miami market is one of the most important and prolific car-buying markets in the country. Yes, of course you’ll find the nation’s biggest Lamborghini and Ferrari dealers here, as well as huge BMW and Mercedes stores, but you’ll also find some of the nation’s largest Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, and Lincoln dealers here, too. It’s a massive metroplex with incredibly poor public transportation, so everybody drives. In other words, cars are a necessary, vital part of Miami life.

You would never have known it based on the activity on the show floor. As I entered the center, there was almost nobody in sight. This wasn’t Tuesday morning, either — it was Thursday night around 6:00 p.m. The attendants guarding the door to the hall seemed almost surprised to see me when I handed them my ticket.

“Uh, you can just go in,” he said to me. Okay, then.

I entered the massive hall right by the Ford display, which is always one of the more crowded areas of any major auto show. Not this one. Total crickets, even by the new Ranger. There was an off-road driving simulator with a couple of attendants manning the booth. They had nobody to talk to, and nobody in line to experience the simulator, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. The two young ladies were so happy to have somebody to talk to that they sprung to life and answered all of my questions about the show.

“It’s been like this all week,” one of them mentioned. “I’ll be happy to be done with this show. But they’re all kind of like this now. Thank God this show is only one week — I keep getting stuck working the two week shows. They’re even worse.”

She had been in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and other shows all around the country. Same story. Big halls, lots of cars, and no attendees.

It was a similar story with all of the floor workers with whom I spoke. They were all so thrilled to have somebody to talk to that I didn’t mind hearing the product pitches for all of the cars in their respective areas. I learned a thing or two, and it gave them a reward for standing on their feet for hours and hours at a time.

Even my companion for the show, the lovely Luisa, found the experience a bit depressing. “There’s nobody here,” she exclaimed. As you can see in the above photo, Lu was the only person in the entire Chevrolet booth as she checked out the Bolt. Not even the Blazer, which was just introduced last week, had any admirers. When Lu bought a beef empanada from one of the vendors in the hall, she ended up throwing it out after one bite.

“It’s stale,” she complained to the vendor.

“Sorry,” he said. “We haven’t been selling anything this week. It’s probably not very fresh.”

The void in the hall did give me the chance to spend a little bit of floor time with some cars I hadn’t seen much of, like the Lincoln Nautilus at the top of this post (even though the doors were locked), and the Genesis G70 directly above these words (it’s beautiful, but the back seat is almost useless). For that, I was grateful. Anybody who genuinely wanted to check out some cars would have enjoyed this show, even with the rather loud presentations that were occurring as scheduled every 30 minutes, despite the complete lack of audience.

I walked over to the Toyota booth to catch the tail end of the rep preaching about the ALL-NEW TOP-SELLING 2019 RAV4 with great enthusiasm. He had been speaking loudly and proudly about the features of the CUV, despite the fact that there was literally not one person in the Toyota area. Not one. When Luisa and I walked into his line of sight, I think his voice actually cracked with excitement. A real person! TWO real persons!

So why are the car shows so dead? Why did BMW, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Mercedes, all of whom are spending massive cash advertising through digital and traditional media in the Miami market, decide to forgo exhibiting at the show entirely?

It is sooooo cliche to say so in the year 2018, but the answer is probably The Internet. YouTube car channels are exploding — any idiot with a camera can (and often does) get thousands of views by walking around a press loaner and talking really loudly and with great excitement! There’s an entire generation of people who are happy to experience things virtually via video rather than touch, smell, and feel them in person. Why fight the traffic, pay for parking, and walk two blocks to a giant convention center when you can watch a video about the new “She’s got a booty like a Cadillac” XT4 right on your phone?

But while the local car show does still exist, for however long it exists, you should take the opportunity to visit your local show when it comes to town. You’ll get more attention from a product specialist than you could ever possibly need, the chance to sit in the driver’s chair and explore the interior completely uninterrupted, and, perhaps most importantly, you can check out things like panel gaps, material quality, and experience things live and in person that just don’t translate to video.

Just don’t buy the empanadas. Trust me on this one.

[Images: Mark “Bark M.” Baruth]

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60 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: What If They Held an Auto Show and Nobody Came?...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Maybe this is a “Miami thing” – the one here in Denver is always slammed, particularly on weekends. The only way to go with our local show is after dinner. Otherwise, you’re waiting in line for 10 minutes to sit in a freakin’ Focus.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryannosaurus

      This. I go to the LA auto show on off days and arrive as soon as they open. I can normally visit 2 booths before the throngs of people have swarmed the entire event. Nothing like sitting in a Camry while several people stare at you waiting for their turn. Some of the recently introduced models I give up on being able to have a look inside. I should try a smaller show…

    • 0 avatar
      hpycamper

      Went to San Diego and Anaheim, both seemed well attended. Researching cars online is fine, but only as a supplement to seeing them in person and sitting in them, which auto shows are perfect for.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        To me, the car show is the supplement. You do your research online, then go to the show/dealership to see if the interior actually ‘fits’ your needs. That’s also where you can go to occasionally compare colors, though the dealership, if anywhere, is the better place for that.

        I don’t buy off the lot unless they have what I want. I ordered a Saturn; I ordered a Jeep and I ordered my Colorado.

    • 0 avatar
      Chainsawferret

      The St Louis show is mobbed as well every year. But then it only lasts a weekend. Maybe a whole week is too long for auto shows anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Dedicating… let’s call it Tuesday through Thursday… to media events allows a three-day period for the general public to attend. What I’ve seen with my ‘local’ shows (neither Philadelphia nor Baltimore shows are exactly “small”) is that the early part of the week is reserved for media, whether that be television, newspapers or magazines. I would imagine someone with a decent-sized automotive presence on the internet could probably get media credentials too.

        But for the general public, most people simply don’t have the time or the energy to try and get to an evening showing that’s only going to be open for three or for hours after arrival. Outdoor test drives are inhibited by loss of sunlight and indoor staff is probably already bored stiff and tired from standing/sitting around all day with very little to do outside of wiping dust and fingerprints off the cars under their charge. I’ve also noticed that few dealerships/brands bother to have power hooked up to let people properly test the interior for ‘fit’. I’ve found electric seats are typically set for an ‘average’ sized individual, which makes them feel very cramped for taller/larger individuals and can well reduce that model’s suitability in the potential customer’s eyes. It was exactly that which ultimately had me select a Colorado over a Tacoma after more than three years and multiple car show visits.

    • 0 avatar
      Marathon Mike

      I live in the Milwaukee area and our auto show is certainly not devoid of visitors. I will admit that it is nothing like it used to be back in the 80’s. I used to think that it had to do with the disappearance of beautiful models – human ones- (in the required short dresses) that caused a lack of interest.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll likely wander on down to Albuquerque’s show in April, given that I’ll actually be shopping in the months after that. Gives a chance to check out interiors and see if a car is as handsome/ugly in person as it looks in pictures. Maybe pick up a few business cards and see who seems most desperate to do business.

    I remember the shows in Lima, OH that I believe were usually in March and the would fill the wide hallways of the mall with cars (no pop up booths in the middle of the mall in those days.) Dad would drag us on down although he never bought a new car in his life. It was a chance to check out those models he’d be shopping in 3 to 5 years when they were used and being a John Deere tractor salesman the opportunity to bump into most of the customers he knew personally that would be just as likely to be out walking around.

    Those days are long gone.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Agreed. I have great memories of the Twin Cities autoshow growing up. Between the cars not there and the mediocre displays, meh. Better to drive to Chicago for the autoshow there.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I usually go to the Jacksonville and Orlando auto shows each year and while I guess they aren’t PACKED, they are far from “dead” attendence-wise and I don’t really notice a huge drop-off compared to when I went to shows growing up.

    One thing that probably helps is that the shows in Jacksonville and Orlando are only 3-4 days long over a weekend while Miami runs for a full 9 days.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I wish this happened at the LA show. It’s wall to wall all the time. I’ve heard NYC is the same.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    It’s been a decade since I lived in a city with a good auto show. Tampa’s was just okay, and I imagine Nashville’s is similar.

    I wouldn’t know, though, because I didn’t even know it was last weekend until I read about it on Monday. That’s a shame, because a clueless friend was in need of a “new truck, or maybe an SUV…or maybe a sedan…” and I could have saved some effort by just sending him over there to narrow it down.

    • 0 avatar
      Rick T.

      Unfortunately, you imagine wrongly. I went to the Nashville show this last weekend. No dedicated MB, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Genesis, Jaguar, or Kia displays among others. There was a lone C and E class (both locked) representing MB and one A5 and A4 for Audi. There were a couple of locked Jaguar CUV’s. Not one of the others could I find even one car. Never again.

      There is a dealership for almost every make including Rolls Royce and Lamborghini. MB just opened another dealship to handle demand.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    If I experienced such an abandoned public event, I would feel a strong urge to check the news on my phone, maybe the police scanner audio stream, and look outside … just to make sure there isn’t something going on about which I was the last to know. Maybe I have seen too many Gojira movies.

  • avatar
    needsdecaf

    I grew up spoiled. The NY Auto Show was my home show. I haven’t been in 6-7 years though. But it was always slammed even on non-press days.

    The Philly shows and DC shows were packed every day. I went to both up until 6 years ago. My friends that live in both those areas report that there are still big crowds.

    The Houston show is mobbed. People waiting on line to get in every morning. By lunchtime it’s so crowded, it’s hard to sit in a car. Any car. And this is a show mostly manned by dealers. Almost no concepts or new release cars. I can’t speak for other shows, in smaller markets, but in the major metro areas, public access days are packed.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I live in South FL and heard nothing the show last week. Not sure where they advertised this but I did not see it mentioned during any local TV sports broadcasts which normally has a car related commercial every two minutes it seems. Maybe they were blasting it over the radio but I listen to SiriusXM not the local stuff.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The Toronto show is always packed, despite it being rather lacklustre for such a prominent event. I managed to get some gala night tickets one year and it was great – free food and drinks and nobody was paying attention to the cars making it easy to see everything.

    The best show around here is put on by a bunch of students north of the city outside on their campus. On a nice afternoon it’s a great way to spend some time, and the students are all rabid car fans – enrolled in the business /auto program there.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Quite a few OEMs and staffing companies use the Georgian show to recruit staffing for the national shows though (or did when I went there), as it’s a co-op program, and it’s considered relevant experience.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    Ditto here in Pittsburgh. I never missed it as a kid and then as a teenager, then as a college student. It’s been a relic for some time now. The exotics and high-line marques began pulling out in the 90s, and the ones that remained just pulled a couple of loaded out vehicles in (no more comparing trim levels in person) with a bunch of salesmen waiting to pounce on anyone who expressed an interest in one of them. I stopped going at least 10 years ago, but those who do tell me it’s even worse than I remember. I kind of like narrowing the field online by comparing specs and features without some guy who previously worked at Best Buy parroting the brochure to me.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I got to work an OEM booth as a product specialist at several shows in ’10-’11 (which, yes, at this point, probably counts as a long time ago), and they all tended to be pretty busy except for a few weekdays after 9pm. And even now, attending my local (Toronto) auto show, I still try and go on a weeknight since I can’t handle crowds. Although at least with Toronto vs Miami, we hold ours in the middle of February when there’s nothing else to do, and no one wants to be outside in the frozen wasteland, so it might just be busy to cope with cabin fever.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) held in Toronto was for nearly a century the largest annual exhibition held on the same location, in the world.

    The first large building on the left side of the main entrance was the Automotive Building. Constructed in 1929 as the home of The National Motor Show it claimed to be “the largest structure in North America designed exclusively to display passenger vehicles”. (Wikipedia)

    For decades the domestic auto manufacturers unveiled their new cars each September, coinciding with the CNE. However the CNE changed its timing, closing on Labour Day and auto manufacturers no longer wait until September to unveil their annual offerings. So the Automotive Building is now a ‘conference venue’ named after some sponsorship group.

  • avatar
    George B

    The last time I went to the Dallas Auto Show in 2014 it was fairly busy. The disappointment was that it’s more of a dealer’s show of models already on the lots, not a manufacturer’s show of upcoming models and concept vehicles. Don’t remember seeing anything new. However, it was nice to sit in lots of cars and compare interiors back-to-back. The last auto show I went to was at the State Fair of Texas a couple years ago. Fewer cars, but it was a nice air conditioned break from the heat outside.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      That’s the last time I went to the Dallas Auto Show as well (2014). When I was a kid in the ’60s and ’70s, I’d ride the bus (free bus tickets!) down to Fair Park on DISD fair days, and spend most of the day hanging out in the Automobile Building, which in those days wasn’t air conditioned (but hey, it’s October, so no biggie). Except for Volkswagen, all the “foreign cars” were in what was then called the “World Exhibits Building”.

  • avatar
    Principe Raphael

    Since I stopped drinking several years ago, I realized something – I hate crowds. Ergo, I can no longer bear to go to car shows, especially up here in Philadelphia. The car show is always in late January, when it’s bitterly cold and everyone wants to go on the same day to look at cars. I hate waiting in line just so I can sit in a car. But I like seeing cars in the flesh, so to speak, so I can touch them, check out the interior quality and just fantasize about owning a really beautiful car…but the crowds are insufferable.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I go to three different auto shows in my region: Philadelphia, Wilmington, DE and Baltimore. I always go on a saturday or sunday and ALWAYS find a crowd… more often than not so crowded that you can hardly move around any of the cars and trucks.

    Two of these three are always week-long affairs, I’m not certain about the third. But the weekends seem to be when the public shows up in droves while weekday/night traffic is simply… unknown; I would expect it to be sparse since people tend to have other things on their minds during the week.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I admit I haven’t attended since 2014, but the Dallas Auto Show has usually been well-attended. It’s a four-day affair in mid-March, and they have opportunities to drive cars around the downtown area (usually FCA vehicles), and the last time I went, RAM had an indoor “off-road” course where you got to ride along in a RAM 1500. The last couple of times, I took my oldest daughter along (she’s a college freshman living six hours away now), because she had an interest in seeing the cars.

  • avatar
    ldl20

    Living in northern NJ, NY is my home show. I remember going as a kid in the 80’s when it was at the Coliseum near Central Park, and the subways weren’t so safe (think Bernie Goetz). Now, it’s much easier and safer to travel to the Javits Center, but it really doesn’t matter when you go, it will be mobbed with people. Case in point, I’ve arrived at the start time of the opening day on a Thursday, early on an Easter Sunday, and even during the first night of Passover, and the place is always packed!

    • 0 avatar
      needsdecaf

      My favorite about the NYIAS is the teenage kids who come and just beat on the cars. Literally, try to rip off shift knobs, slamming doors, blasting the radios, etc. By the end of the week, some of those cars look really sad.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I actually watched a couple of product specialists begging someone to call the police on a kid they caught vandalizing a car at that show. Their security had the kid there, with his friends, along with what looked like a side mirror adjust knob and part of the door card it was supposed to be attached to. I don’t even know how it’s possible to break a car that way, he must have been punching or stabbing it.

  • avatar
    BunkerMan

    I went to the Canadian International Auto Show in downtown Toronto this past February and it was overflowing with people. You could barely move.

    Being from a smaller city, I was pretty fed up with the crowds by the end of the day. I think next year, I’ll go during the week instead.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I usually go to the Minneapolis Auto Show every year. It’s never been that empty when i go, but go later in the evening on week days, or on a weekend. And even though I’m nobody special, I haven’t paid for a ticket in years. Usually Chevy hooks me up with free tickets, but occasional Mazda will as well.

    This year you could actually take test drives and I took advantage of that, but other than that, there really isn’t anything new going on, and you can tell some automakers just don’t show up. *cough* BMW, Porsche…

  • avatar
    threeer

    Was in Nashville the other weekend for a family function (actually to support my daughter’s insanely expensive hobby…) and caught an ad for the local car show. Given that we live just south in Huntsville, I thought it’d be a nice idea to invite my best buddy and schedule the date to hit the show…right up until they advertised “27 cars to see.” Wow. A whole 27 cars. If two or three mainstream manufacturers showed up, that would pretty much be the entire line up. I passed on the idea of going. Sad, really. And yes, the internet. But call me old-school. I still would rather have butts in seats to physically see the car versus looking at pictures on the screen.

  • avatar
    tedward

    The auto show industry undoubtedly need to be rationalized a bit. I believe it’s all (or near enough) run by a Motor Trend subsidiary at this point. I’m sure they are loath to cancel anything as that would result in a loss of revenue. They’d probably be better served biting that bullet themselves rather than waiting for the OEM’s to force the adjustment on them.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Maybe the mfrs are having a hard time connecting auto show expenses with actual sales revenue.

      Frankly, I don’t know how they justify TV ads – especially during the Super Bowl. Did anyone buy a Kia Stinger because of Steve Tyler?

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    It’s been 2-3 years since I went to an auto show, but it was the Columbus auto show that Bark mentioned at the top of the article. Instead of running a full week it just runs 4 days, and two of them are Saturday and Sunday. Every time I’ve been there was a pretty decent crowd. I expect that had he gone to Miami on Saturday mid-morning he would have had decent crowds as well, but Thursday night at 6pm in a city with so many other entertainment options? Yeah, it gonna be dead. That’s probably the slowest time of all to go.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I typically take my sons every year to the Columbus auto show and the turnout is solid each year so far.
      It is annoying that none of the “premium” brands show up and that Lincoln seems to be the only one that consistently locks the daggone doors. Couldn’t get into the new Navigator, nor the Continental. For a brand on it’s heels, maybe deal with the fact that your show car is gonna get a little grungy and might have a few roughed up parts on the inside. Seems like a small price to pay to get people in the doors.

      • 0 avatar
        notwhoithink

        I agree, it’s an auto show. We come to see all of the car, not just the outside. Have you ever asked them to let you check out the interior? I wonder if they’d unlock it if you let them pitch it to you?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Bark, you’re right about the internet. By the time the Pittsburgh Auto Show appears in February, I’ve already read about each car of interest to me, not to mention that the auto show circuit is already 4 months old at that point.

    The Pittsburgh Auto used to be an 8- or 9-day event (IIRC), but now it’s been cut down to a 4-day weekend. That keeps the crowd density high, but it’s pretty passionless at this point. Since I’m only there for 2 hours, I don’t bother to sample the expensive bad food.

    I go to see if I can fit (6’6″) into the cars, without being hassled by a salesman. And it’s also a way to spend time with friends or my sons.

    I don’t car much about the exotics, because they’re always locked anyway. BMW did have an i8 open once, and that was pretty cool. An ‘exotic’ to me is a $90k QX80 battle tank which I admire but will never buy.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I used to count the days until the Chicago Auto Show would start, 2nd only to Christmas as my most awaited event. I haven’t been in years, because crowds and the hassle of driving into Chicago, parking, cold (it’s always in January), blah, blah. Although the internet is great for research, there’s no substitute for actually sitting in and touching the cars you’re interested in, so this surprises me that Auto shows are losing favor with no real reason

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    The one here in Vancouver, BC is always busy. And it’s always a wide range of demographics attending.

  • avatar
    Lefty54

    Just like Video Killed the Radio Star, The Internet Killed the Car Show Star.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I did not expect Cadillac to do an advertisement with an Ariana Grande song, but I suppose it’s par for the course when marketing to people my age.

    And that shade of brown is gorgeous on the ’19 Nautilus.

    Meanwhile, the OKC Auto Show always seems to have plenty of traffic and interest. In fact, they built a new expo hall a year or two ago on the state fairgrounds.

  • avatar
    baggins

    the shows in SF (Nov) and San Jose (January) get quite crowded at the peak hours, and are never as empty as described in this piece. The last time my son and I went to the SF show we got made-to-order tasty chicken pesto crepes made and topped off with the other San Francisco treat, an “It’s it” ice cream sandwich. Good times.

    Bark, I think you may have generalized too far from the show you attended.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    The auto show in Raleigh is always packed, unfortunately it’s also usually a let down. I went all 4 years of SS production and not one year did they have an SS in the room. Imagine that one of your most interesting vehicles not even displayed.
    Tons of high priced trims of nice vehicles mixed with CUVs that would require a lobotomy to drive. The vehicles actually interesting or either swarmed with unattended kids playing on them or not even at the show all together. How do you not show a Land cruiser Toyota, aside from the 4Runner it’s the only quintessential Toyota left.

    I have a hard time going to shows now every year there are less and less interesting vehicles and more Xanex on wheels.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Every time I’ve been to the Boston show it’s been busy. Went to Albany a couple of times, and while it’s a pretty small show, there are still enough attendees to keep the staff busy.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I go the one one in Orlando at the end of November. Have been attending for the past 15 years. The show is always packed but it is a four day event. May be that’s why. Unfortunately over the years, less and less manufacturers attend. Volvo isn’t coming, VW was not there, BMW missing in action. I like going because I focus on a few cars I am interested in. I get to touch them, feel the seats, the dashboard, check out the back seat. Things I can’t do on line and loath doing at a dealership.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    The big annual local computer shows disappeared long ago. As teenagers, the local new car show was a highlight of the year. I recall the experience of seeing in person the incredible swooping roof of the 2-door full size 1966 Pontiac.

    But a month or two ago I went to a local electric vehicle and hybrid car show. There were hundreds of people there. 30 or so cars and e-2 wheelers for test drives. Lots of buzz and excitement.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Those big computer shows were great for the home builder and hobbyist… but computers have pretty much stagnated over the last 15-20 years, with very little real advancement outside of the chips themselves. Home building just isn’t as much fun as it used to be and progress in the technologies seems to have slowed notably. While this is good in some ways (the hardware stays viable almost twice as long as formerly) it means there’s little reason to go to a show just to get effectively last-year’s hardware.

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    What’s also decreased the allure of auto shows (compared to when I was younger) are what I’ll call “the two P’s.”

    1) Political Correctness: once upon a time there were booth babes — hot and dressed “appropriately” to attract the male eye. Now the female presence (such as there is any) look and dress like they’re from the HR Department.

    A similar situation has occurred with the NFL (which I no longer watch now that it’s officially gone ant-American with its knee-taking during our national anthem, dishonoring the memory of those who fought and died under our flag). TV coverage used to give one the chance to get a decent gaze of the cheerleaders — now one misses them if you blink your eyes. The recent introduction of “male” cheerleaders ruins it completely, now making the non-view on TV the preferable arrangement.

    2) Product: everything now is either a huge pickup truck with a grossly-oversized, garish grille, or a generic “can’t tell ’em apart” CUV that subscribes to (what I call) the “angry arthropod school of styling.”

    Back in the day manufacturers had reasonable distinctive styling, sports cars and sports coupes in addition of the commuter / family hauler / pickup fare. Today, there’s not much reason to go to an auto show because the displayed products are all pretty fungible … and boring.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      You would have loved working in TV in the ’90s.

      My station would take satellite feeds of local college football games not picked up by the networks. During local commercial breaks the director would put up whatever shots he wanted and you’d hear the booth audio. Camera guys would call out their camera number whenever they would find “eye candy” either on the sideline or in the stands and the director would put it up on the feed to share with the announcers, crew, and guys stuck working at the individual stations on a Saturday afternoon.

      As a young guy fresh out of college I thought it was quite a treat. Now that I’m older with a young daughter I’m less enthused about the ogling as I was then.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      I still see that in the midwest … the booth babes and big trucks. However, not as many as at the bigger gun show.

      I do still like going to car shows as it’s a great way to sit in whatever I want and give a carefuly look over without going to dealerships. In fact, with the last purchase, I knew what I wanted from the car show, saw it sitting on a lot, went and dealed on it without having to talk to the saleswoman that knew next to nothing about it.

  • avatar
    theBrandler

    Not that anyone will probably read this at this point, but just like I missed this post until long after it’s been out, I’ve never heard of any local car show that wasn’t just the locals showing off their cool cars. I didn’t even know there were car shows the public was allowed to attend to be honest. I thought they were all press events only – and yes I’m a car enthusiast who has to live vicariously through youtube because cars way to damn expensive these days :(

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    Have attended the NYC shows which are always crowded (even at Friday midday). Here in NOLA, they only last a few days and are not very well advertised; therefore attendance is mediocre at best.

    As you state above, most info is on-line and you go to the show just to verify your interest. Also, the baby boomers are getting older and are not as interested. I find Generation X & Y (my nephews) are not as interested in cars as well.

  • avatar
    hifi

    Why bother? I stopped going to the NYIAS a few years ago once I realized they’ve gotten stale. There’s rarely anything new that’s worth seeing. Automakers just keep making the same stuff they’ve always been making. Toyotas are still ugly, Jeeps still look like jeeps. Chevy and Ford still focus on rednecks. And Cadillac and Lincoln still don’t know anything about luxury. The detailing is bad…the plastic is excessive… and ideas are lacking. I’ll go once the Tesla roadster or Model Y is launched. But I’ll probably have seen them in the showroom. So no.


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