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The Professional’s Guide to the LA Auto Show

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The Professional’s Guide to the LA Auto Show

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

The LA Auto Show is upon us boys and girls, and that means a plethora of new cars, booth professionals, and convention B.O. As always, there is too much to take in in one day if you try and see everything. To help you get the most out of this and other auto shows, we’ve created a play-by-play to show you how a media professional navigates this sordid and distracting world. Below you will see what our day looked like. Tread carefully and learn from the best…

6:45 – Alarm goes off with some emo song. God it’s early. I started writing about cars so I wouldn’t have to wake up this early anymore.

7:26 – Out of bed finally. Because $%&@ mornings.

7:50 – Finally on my way with 10 minutes to get to the show

9:00 – Finish with LA traffic and arrive at the convention center an hour late. In style.

9:20 – Eventually found the media center to get my wristband. Why are all convention centers some version of a poorly carpeted labyrinth?

9:22 – In the actual show!

9:23 – First thing I see in the hall is a 2013 Audi S8. Tre sexy and seemingly scowling at the Hyundai stand next door.

9:29 – Cadillac ATS, XTS, and CTS-V Racing Coupe. Love the fact that the center consol design is the same across the Cadillac line-up – it creates a tight lineage and strong brand language. Also, the Racing Coupe just looks devilishly awesome.

9:30 – New Mazda6. Design on the profile looks a little fussy. It is catching and different now, but I have doubts about how it will age. Every automaker is serving breakfast and espresso at their exhibits. God it’s good to be press.

9:32 – Bentley. Another great aspect of being in the media is that all the cars are open and velvet ropes mean nothing. A press pass means you are allowed to do anything everywhere, so obviously I sat my fat ass in some Bentleys. Also, my camera stopped working for some reason. Something always goes wrong or gets left behind when you do big events like this.

9:40 – Toyota Avalon. Outside aesthetics aside, the interior is a weird hodge-podge of upscale switches and shitty plastic. Matched with the ugly steering wheel fitted to this car, and the price premium over a Camry doesn’t seem worth it.

9:45 – Camera working again, I head back to Bentley to grab pics that I know you my reading public demand. These pictures and all others in the gallery at the bottom of this piece.

9:47 – Toyota RAV4. Bunch of press of about this for its launch, and I’ve got to say “blah.” Outside styling is ambitious FOR TOYOTA, but the interior is just another grey plastic fest with nothing new or old but interesting to look at. I’m sure your mother will love it.

9:50 – Scion. Nothing interesting here.

9:51 – TRD. Something interesting here, the freak of nature Sequoia race truck!

9:52 – Just saw Kanye West talking to a TRD rep.

9:52.5 – Totally not Kanye West, just some black dude with short hair and a goatee. Great, now I feel racist.

9:57 – Mini Paceman. Stupid car, but here’s an insider tip: overhead auto show lights suck for taking pictures of shiny metal objects like vehicles. To get your pictures to look somewhat decent, try getting lower or switching sides of the vehicle to get away from the glare spots created by the lights.

9:58 – Subaru Forester and Crosstrek. Those crazy Japanese cut their brand new Forester cabin in half! I always love seeing this expose internals like engines and transfer cases, but Suby has decided to skip all that and just show you what the inside of the cabin looks like – you know, what you could see anyway if you just opened the door… The Crosstrek on display looks great. Inside it is any other Subaru, but outside it looks like it is ready for the zombie apocalypse.

9:59 – I just saw German hipsters walking around hall. Weird.

10:00 – Turns out VW is courting the millennial crowd by giving out thick-frame sunglasses to attendees. Their whole exhibit looks like Williamsburg right now.

10:05 – Chevy Spark EV. Strange looking little car but I actually can’t wait to get behind the wheel. The only EVs I’ve driven so far have been large sedans, and having a micro car propelled by electrons would be interesting.

10:07 – Not to be outdone by Subaru, Chevy also cut its Spark EV in half, then went ahead and cut a Volt into only its drive train.

10:08 – Chevy Tru1405S and Code130R. WTF is this?!?!??!? These look great. Make more of these please! These two concepts first bowed at the Detroit auto show earlier this year as examples of possible future “sporting” Chevrolets. Please do make these, they look fantastic in the flesh.

10:10 – Talk to Andrew Lipman with Audi Communications regarding their show line-up and why they brought such a big diesel push to LA. Oh, and confirmed our invitation to Audi’s sweet roof-top party in Hollywood later that night. I love my job.

10:20 – Acura NSX. Just as stunning in person, and the roof only reaches waist-high. This is one low-slung technical tour de force.

10:24 – Volvo C30 Polestar Edition. Looks properly good, smells awful inside. I suppose this is the price for exclusivity.

10:30 – Lexus LS F Sport, LF-CC, , LF-LC, LFA Nurburgring Edition. The LS F Sport is just blah in person, and doesn’t carry nearly the gravitas of an M5’s exterior. The LF-CC Concept really feels like Aston Martin with its tight sheet metal skin seemingly stretched over the car’s frame. The LF-LC Concept is the better looker of the two, but that’s like comparing swimsuit models. Finally, the LFA Nurburgring is, of course, quite tasty. I prefer the original car’s lack of wing for street-use, but if I was headed to the track I can think of few better steeds.

10:35 – Infiniti LE Concept. Very ungainly in person. Hopefully the large rump on this car doesn’t accurately signal future design language choices.

10:37 – Jeremy Scott Smart. So some fashion designer made himself a Smart with wings on the back. Makes sense to me.

10:38 – Just saw either Angus MacKenzie or a white trash David Bowie, not really sure which but I’d enjoy a conversation with either.

10:41 – SLS AMG, SLS AMG Black, Ener-G-Force. Nothing big or new with the SLS, but it is still a striking automobile. The SLS Black has been the real talk of town this show, but it’s hard to tell why. I don’t think it looks that drastically different (compared to say the difference between the C63 and C63 Black), and driving dynamics don’t enter into it because 1) the SLS drives like an ancient muscle car anyway and 2) you can count the amount of these that will ever be on a track on one hand. The Ener-G-Force is a stupid name for a great looking concept. Like with all the best concepts, almost none of this design will ever make it onto the next G-Wagen.

10:47 – BMW i8 Roadster, i3. Dubstep is playing in the background at the BMW stand, because of course it is. The i8 roadster looks fantastic in person, until you get closer and start to notice just how much matte plastic is on the exterior of this car. Far from revolutionary, in fact Saturn used plastic for it’s bodies in the 90’s. The i3 is just a stone’s throw from being a Smart, so no major points here. Both the i cars have very interesting and genuinely design features, I just hope they eventually make it to market intact.

10:59 – Lunch break! Time to eat my sad, bruised apple be glad I’m not paying extortion-level prices for the concession’s food.

11:10 – Back to it, you’re not reading this to hear how my lunch was.

11:12 – Saleen S7 still gorgeous all these years later but the interior is pretty dismal.

11:15 – Morgan 3-wheeler. The one word that ran through my mind when I saw this oddity is “cute.” If you’re looking for as far a left-field transportation choice as you can get, this is it.

11:17 – Lotus Evora. Apparently there’s a technique for getting in and out of this low-slung rocket. Open the door and back into the door frame with your ass facing your unfortunate passenger. Place your right foot into the cabin then plop down un-gracefully into the bucket seat. Now bring your left foot up and into the car trying not the scuff the side-plate which for some reason is leather instead of metal. Even on the show car this leather portion was already showing marks, so good luck keeping it looking clean once you own it.

11:23 – Aston Martin. Galpin Motors brought a full selection of Aston Martins to the show, all apparently from one owner’s collection. Ranging from a James Bond Goldfinger DB5 to the slightly less but still incredibly exclusive Dragon 88 edition (which is only supposed to be in China…).

11:27 – Lincoln. This troubled automaker is in the middle of trying to turn itself around. To showcase both great deeds in the past and where they are headed, Lincoln brought a collection of their historic cars. The interesting part, though, was in a security-blocked room in the back of the stand where there sat a MKZ and large letters reading “This is Lincoln Now.” Very interesting.

11:35 – Ford Focus ST. We’ve been seeing this little trouble-maker hit all the global shows, and we can’t wait to get your hands on it and toss it around some canyon roads.

11:40 – Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. For the 10th anniversary of the Rubicon badge, Jeep has rolled out this latest and greatest example for the adoring masses. There is no doubt that this Wrangler will have mountain goat levels of mountain climbing ability.

11:42 – Nissan GT-R. So this is the 2013 flavor of Nissan’s world-beater. I’ve never been in a GT-R before, and I couldn’t believe how ugly the interior was. It looks and feels like a Nissan, and that is not a compliment. Why would I want a 370Z-level interior in my $100K sports car? And it’s not just looks, the car does not feel as “tight” or well-engineered as the Europeans it is attempting to dethrone. Closing the door results in an ugly and tinny clank where a Porsche or Ferrari gives you a confident thump of low-tolerance machining and craftsmanship. You’ve always been able to hot-rod simple rides enough to beat the exotics, but it is the full package that is worth the price of entry into Maranello or Stuttgart. Rant over.

11:47 – Nissan DeltaWing. Why is this not the current car for Indy, or even F1? I want to see a fleet of these technological wonders battling it out and swapping paint. Bold technological steps are always feared when they are introduced, but hopefully sooner rather than later the powers that be will adopt some version of this design.

11:53 – Honda EV-STER. I’m calling it now, total vaporware. Although this little roadster looks like an able replacement for the S2000, here on the show floor it looks like Honda has just plopped it down and left if to rot. There are no booth professionals drawing crowds over, there is no literature explaining the concept. Nothing. This is a very bad sign for a concept car, and one that signals that the development is dead in the water.

11:55 – SRT Viper. Papa is back, and he looks like he’s learned a thing or two while on vacation. This viper looks more grown-up and well executed than any previous example, and even appears to be better executed than the recent Corvettes. SRT is really swinging for the fences with this one, but it looks like it’s worked.

11:57 – Fiat 500 Abarth. Nothing major or new here, although Fiat did debut the “convertible” version. The Abarth is the next car we want to test here at DrivingScene, so we’ll have more in depth experience coming soon.

12:00 – Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, Boxster. The first thing you see once you find Porsche’s hidden pavillion at the convention center is an absolutely beeeeeeautiful 904 Carrera GTS. Of course the vehicle is in mint condition, and it’s easy to see the similarities between this classic sports coupe and the other low-slung cars here like the NSX and Evora. Next to this classic metal, Porsche has placed their new Boxster. Now that the money-changers have allowed the Boxster to have its own doors (rather than sharing them with the 911), this car finally has it’s own look. Porsche also has a big unveil planned for 5 minutes from now, and the stage is absolutely swamped.

12:05 – Porsche unveils the brand new Cayman. They promise the new car is now lighter, more powerful, and more fuel efficient than before. Pegged to come in at $52,600 and available in April. Because it’s Porsche, the Cayman looks exactly like Boxster with the exception of the side intakes that have been borrowed from the turbo.

12:35 – Stole a Porsche cookie on my way out and I head home.

That’s how it’s done. See everything you want to see, skip everything else. Get into any car that interests you, but don’t waste time talking to the booth professionals. if you want to painlessly cruise through shows, do like us. You’ll escape with your sanity and plenty of good auto experiences.

– Adam Kaslikowski

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2012 Utah Auto Expo

Posted on 16 January 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

January has a special place in my heart. It brings the Chinese New Year, good skiing (sometimes), my birthday, and the Utah International Auto Expo. I’ve been going to the show every January for a decade now, and it just keeps getting better. Going to the Expo is invaluable if you are shopping for a new car; it gives you the opportunity to cross-shop between every major manufacturer by walking just a few steps rather than driving between dealerships all day. Continue reading to see all the new cars we found there.

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2012 Consumer Electronics Show

Posted on 14 January 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

The 2012 CES has wrapped up and we’re still recovering from the endless booths and displays of identical iPhone cases. This year’s show was pretty light on anything revolutionary, and especially lacking on the automotive front. New or updated infotainment systems dominated the displays from the few major OEM’s that decided to show. One of the few bright spots was a hands on display of the new Tesla Model S. In person, the EV has graceful proportions and a unique and instantly identifiable fascia. The interior on the show model was somehow both upscale and low quality. Leather enveloped every surface that wasn’t wood or metal, but without a padding below the leather it felt cheap and tacked on. Time will tell how the actual production model will feel.

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SEMA: Day 4

Posted on 08 November 2011 by Adam Kaslikowski

It’s over. It’s finally over. SEMA has wrapped up and I’ve needed the full 3 days to recover and write this. The Las Vegas Vegas Convention Center is a sprawling complex and I’ve now walked every inch of it. Most of the cars were really cool, some were plain jane, and a handful were god awful.

This show has been a lot of work, and a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to next year, but I will definitely need the whole year to get ready again. I also cant wait to start seeing all the trends at the show (matte paint, colored rims, resto-mods) start popping up on my local streets.

As with all the other days of the show, I’ve got a HUGE gallery attached after the link. Take a look through, but with so many pictures you might want to use our search box on the left to find cars you are particularly interested in. What are you waiting for, get gallery surfing!

-Adam Kaslikowski

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SEMA: Day 3

Posted on 03 November 2011 by Adam Kaslikowski

Today was a  move away from covering the trucks (I’m not a huge fan) to observing some honest to god sports cars. Yes, there were horrific chrome R8s and body-kitted Ferraris, but there was also breathtaking classic 1973 Celica and a bumper crop of BMW 1Ms. Local Motors still proves to be the friendliest booth at the entire show, and there product is beyond cool. Driving scene was also granted an exclusive interview with Brandmotion to explain the finer points of their Urban Loft Fiat 500 concept. Expect a full write-up next week.

The low point of the day occurred when a buttoned-up 40 yr old parts buyer told a silicon and botox enhanced 20 year old booth model that she looked “stunning.” In a Hannibal Lecter lisp. All these family men are letting their crew-cutted hair down and asking for pictures with the models, no cars in the frame or any pretense other than “I would totally do you if you weren’t repulsed by me.” All the models were extremely generous and feigned excitement for the chance to be hugged by sweaty mid-westerners old enough to be their fathers.

One day left for SEMA, and I’m going to be shooting more sports car and exotics. My life is hard, but someone has to take all these pictures for you fans. Till tomorrow, entertain yourself with the gallery after the jump.

-Adam Kaslikowski

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An Apology…

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Adam Kaslikowski

I want to apologize to all the auto show models and hostesses of the world, past present and future. We auto enthusiast are a socially awkward bunch. Blame too much time hunched over engines instead of talking to other human beings and improving our interpersonal skills. Things are especially bad with the older members of our ranks. Many of them have problems with personal space – they are paradoxically uncomfortable with displays of brotherly affection, yet they won’t hesitate to invade a total stranger’s comfort zone to make a seemingly witty observation. It is never as funny as they think it is. As a group, they can’t comprehend women. They don’t understand how you can smell so good, have such soft hands, and why you find carburetors so confusing. None of this is helped by the fact that many of them are lonely and have watched their dreams curl up and die at their boot-covered feet. That is why you are so alluring to them.

They like to imagine that you will find their knowledge of tire rotation schedules alluring, their grey hair dignified, and their grease (both automotive and foodborne) stained t-shirts sexy. They want to believe. That is why they want of picture of you. This is definitely why they want a picture of you hugging them as if you just can’t get enough of them. They need to show their friends (but not their wives) that they “still got it.” They never had it. I’m sorry that you are the victim of their neurosis, I truly am. You signed up to put on leather pants or a black dress and smile next to a shiny car, you didn’t agree to end your day smelling of a hundred different aftershaves or to be “accidentally” groped. I can’t promise that I won’t act the same exact way when I get old and lonely, but for now just know that I’m looking at you not with lust but with empathy and understanding.

-Adam Kaslikowski

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SEMA: Day 2

Posted on 02 November 2011 by Adam Kaslikowski

Day 2 of the aftermarket super show is in the can and today we’ve taken a peak at the future. Highlights of the day include digital dashboards, tornado-proof cars, and a laser heads up display that can project images onto the entire windshield. But all is not milk and honey in the land of Auto, however. Lowlights include a Segway with tank treads, a golf bag carrier for motorcycles, and Chinese electric scooters with windshields and a roof.
Local Motors kicked off the day showing off their crowd-source designed Rally Fighter, their “build it yourself” factory, and their new CAD software available to anyone for download off their site. From there it was a day dominated by trucks (as you’ll see in the gallery after the link), both scrapping the ground and lifted well past any sense of sanity. Tomorrow, on to the cars!

-Adam Kaslikowski

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