July 16

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Why I Go to Detroit in January

Detroit in January.  The answer to a question no one asked.  The punchline to a joke no one told.

Why would anyone pick Detroit as their vacation destination?  In January?

Three words: Detroit. Auto. Show. (Four words if you want to throw in a “The.”)

A car enthusiast is not a true car enthusiast until they have gone to the Detroit Auto Show. Officially labeled the North American International Auto Show, this extravaganza in the middle of a struggling former metropolis is the biggest auto show in the United States, if not the world.  The show takes over downtown Detroit’s Cobo Center in the latter half of January (first week is for the press and industry types, then two weeks for the public). Anyone who is anyone in the automotive world goes to the Detroit show.

Naturally, Motorista goes, too.

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The 2012 show was my first.  I went as a spectator with one of my car nut buddies.  I recommend that everyone try the experience at least once.  The sheer scale and scope of the thing is amazing.  The crush of human bodies is disconcerting.  For an introvert prone to sensory overload, like me, the input-bombardment might even make you a little sick.  At first.

Once you get used to it, it’s like an adrenaline rush.  There is so much to see, the lights are flashing, the music pounding (depending on the stand – Toyota is dead quiet).  You can roam the hall for hours, yet there will be always be more to see.

Porsche Turbo

Damn thing’s addictive.

I went back for the 2013 show.  Except this time I got to go during the press preview days as the guest of my hero, legendary auto journalist/daredevil/cabdriver/shit-starter/dog-lover Jean Jennings.  Dear readers, there is nothing quite like being in your favorite place with your favorite person.  For the normal type, that might be a beach somewhere with a significant other.  For me, that’s Detroit with Jean Jennings.

It’s a sickness, and I don’t mind.

Below are some of the photos I snapped at the 2012 show.  (Consider yourself lucky there aren’t more – I took over 800 photos.)  I am going again next year, and am making plans to attend the LA and New York shows as well.  All in the name of journalism, of course.

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The Audi S7. Mad beauty and mad performance.  It had a constant bevy of admirers.

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Maybach (RIP, Maybach)

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MINI’s stand is always “suspenseful.” Ha!

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In 2012, they debuted the MINI Roadster, in 2013 the John Cooper Works Paceman.  Will 2014 bring the next generation MINI?

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Lexus had a pretty radical concept car, the LF-LC, on their stand.  Probably to inspire people to shell out $450,000 for the LFA supercar. The LF-LC concept car is above and below.  The LFA is two photos down.  I’d take the LF-LC over the LFA any day.

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(Seriously, that’s just vulgar)

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(Yeah…no.  The LF-LC is sooo much better.)

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Lexus’ whole stand was endearingly Eurotrash.  Much more fun than stodgy stablemate Toyota!

BMW debuted two innovative new concepts, the i3 and i8.  These are supposed to herald BMW’s new electric series of cars, the i sub-brand.  They should be coming our way before long.

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The i3 is more MINI-sized.

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The i8 is touted as an environment-saving supercar.

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Cadillac premiered a very nice-looking ATS (now on sale, and likely on a road near you; Caddy is going to sell a bunch of these).

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And the range-topping XTS.  Both of these bode well for Cadillac’s future.

Lest you think Detroit is just for production cars, a few racers decided to stop by.

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The Infiniti-Red Bull Formula 1 car.

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I’m rather a fan of Cadillac Racing.

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A Volvo race car!  Yes, it’s true.

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Volvo always has a very Scandinavian stand.

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The Acura NSX concept car debuted in 2012.  The interior debuted in 2013.  This car is going into production, folks.  Gather your greenbacks while ye may, and use them as a down payment on this sucker.  It’s going to rock.

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Less sexy, but far more important: the Dodge Dart debut.  Look closely – you can see the mirror underneath reflecting the Dart’s innards.  Pretty cool.

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Jeep is such a looker these days.  This Grand Cherokee SRT-8 didn’t hurt my feelings any.

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Super Bee!

Falcon

Falcon Motorsports showed up and rocked everybody’s socks off. This car is sold out, by the by.

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My house would fit in one of those hood scoops.

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Nissan’s stand was boxy and colorful.  Its cars were fairly square, though.

The Italians can’t be bothered with Detroit. Only Maserati deigned to show up in 2012.  And I wish they hadn’t.  Ladies and gentlemen, the forthcoming Maserati SUV, the Kubang. Horrible name.  Maserati WTF would be much better.

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Why, oh why?

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Stop the torture!

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Half a Ford Explorer is better than a whole Maserati Kubangeranger.

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Ok, that’s better.  The Subaru BRZ.  Glad to see the BRZ and its platform-mate the Scion FR-S as the next iteration of affordable sports car.

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I think the Buick Encore is cute.  Sue me.

(I also got to drive it recently.  Subject of a forthcoming post.)

Bentley Conti GTV8

The Bentley Continental GT V8. How many Continental variations are there now?  Who cares? Each is just as beautiful – and more expensive – than the last.  This raging red hue is particularly eye-catching.

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Lincoln had a dynamic stand in both 2012 and 2013.  If only their marketing was as good…

The best thing about their 2012 stand was the classic Lincoln. I found it more desirable than any current Lincoln.

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Porsche very thoughtfully provided color swatches.

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I’m digging this rich brown metallic by Mercedes-Benz.

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Mercedes debuted the new-generation SL roadster at the 2012 show.  But the star of the show was a classic SL.

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The SLS AMG roadster was no slouch, either.

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But I drooled over the Audi R8 GT Spyder longest and hardest.  This thing has to be seen to be believed.  And I spent a lot of time seeing it!

Another lust machine: the Audi RS5.  Yes, please.

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The BMW M5 was an eye-catcher.

You see, dear readers?  The Detroit show is more than a show.  It’s an event, an occasion.  It gets in your blood, and messes with your head.  For a car enthusiast, it’s like Christmas, Thanksgiving and your birthday combined.  It makes my little heart go pitter-pat.

I’ll be live-blogging from the 2014 show – are you excited yet?!

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