Well, the 2009 North American International Auto Show has come and gone and I, being the lover of all things with four wheels and an engine (no, this doesn’t mean I hate motorcycles) that I am, made a trip down to downtown Detroit’s COBO Hall to see what automakers had in store for us this year. Unfortunately, this year, the festivities seemed a bit…muted, compared to the 2008 show. There was still a show to be had just…less of one this time around. I imagine that this can be attributed to the failing global economy, which has caused automakers to cut back on the wild and flashy concepts and begin investigating alternative fuel sources and introduce more conservative designs. In a nutshell, this was the “theme” of this year’s Auto Show. Everyone is going green.
Check out the rest of my Auto Show 2009 coverage after the jump.
In 2008, we saw the birth of many new, high powered vehicles such as the much publicized Corvette ZR1 and the more powerful, more aggressively designed, Cadillac CTS-V. This year, all eyes were focused on Cadillac’s newest concept, The Converj, which embodies the new focus of the auto industry. The era of the supercar seems to be waning, and alternative fuel sources and…hybrids seem to be the new focus of the industry. Even sporty cars are going green with cars like the Tesla Roadster and the new Dodge Circuit all-electric sports car which is based on the Lotus Europa S platform.
That’s not to say there was a shortage of high powered, high class and high priced automobiles on display because that clearly wasn’t the case. Of course, I made it my duty to visit the likes of Audi, Maserati, Lamborghini, Nissan (had to see the GTR again) and Ferrari as I made my rounds. But…something was missing. Where was Ferrari? I searched and searched, but they were nowhere to be found. Come to think of it, where was Nissan or Rolls Royce or Porsche? After a few minutes of fruitless searching, I decided to ask someone. They weren’t there, the attendant told me. I guess the North American International Auto Show just wasn’t important enough for them to show up. Well, apparently, Rolls Royce was there but they packed up and hit the ol’ dusty trail right after the first day the show opened to the public.
I was deflated. “Well that sucks,” I thought to myself as I continued my walk around the show. I really wanted to see what Ferrari had in store for me, even if all they showed off were the same cars I saw last year. I had packed a drool bib just for the 599 GTB. Ah well. I’ll be fine with the rest. So, I made my way over to Audi’s gorgeous display and, as it did last year, one car in particular caught my eye and drew me to it. The Audi R8.
I don’t know what it is about this car but every time I see it, I love it even more and wish I had a spare $130k lying around. It has a subtle sort of beauty and natural poise when viewed from any angle that makes it one of the most attractive supercars on the market. It doesn’t blatantly advertise speed despite its more than adequate performance. The model on display this year is the new R8 5.2 FSI Quattro, which features a 5.2 liter V10 engine, derived from the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 (which was also on display at the show).
Mercedes-Benz also delivered at their display, and surprised many with a bit of a shocking redesign of their current supercar, the SLR McLaren. This new car, dubbed the SLR McLaren Stirling Moss Edition, has some very interesting design cues, as you’ll see below.
Interesting isn’t it? There’s no front windshield, so prepare to pack a helmet or go old school and put on a pair of goggles. That is, unless you don’t plan on driving this thing very fast, which would be a total waste of over a million perfectly good dollars. This Stirling Moss Edition of the SLR McLaren brings with it a host of changes and enhancements under the hood in addition to its wild exterior styling. Up from the SLR’s 617 horses, the Stirling Moss Edition cranks out an impressive 650 horses and has a top speed exceeding 217 MPH. Wow. While I may not agree with some of the style choices, as it looks more like something out of Speed Racer and less like something I’d actually drive, it certainly boasts some intriguing performance.
Muscle cars were once again in abundance at the Dodge and Ford display areas. Dodge was once again proudly showcasing the Challenger and Charger and the iconic American sports car, the Dodge Viper and its bigger, meaner brother, the ACR. Ford delivered a new, slightly redesigned version of the original Pony car, the Ford Mustang to be delivered in the 2010 model year alongside the current Bullitt Edition Mustang and Shelby’s even more aggressive GT500.
Overall, despite the fact that the show was lacking some major players this time around and its new focus on going green, I still left the show very pleased with what I had seen. Not quite as pleased as I was when I left last year, but pleased all the same. I realize that, despite my love for high powered supercars, that’s not what the world needs right now. We need automakers to strive to innovate and investigate alternative sources of fuel and what I saw in that respect was fairly impressive. So, I was pleased with this year’s Auto Show and can’t wait for 2010 to roll around. Here’s hoping the economy will be on the upswing by this time next year…
Okay, I may not be an industry analyst but even I think that’s a bit too much to hope for…
So, for now, I leave you with a picture of the Detroit river and the Ambassador Bridge off in the distance.
As a brief side note, every year, a local fudge shop comes down to the show and sets up small booths throughout the show floor. The business is called Ryba’s Fudge and they make some of the richest and best-tasting fudge I’ve ever had.
They make fudge in several different varieties and new this year (or at least, new to me) was the Oreo flavor, which you can see above. This one pound bar of pure, rich, chocolate is filled with bits of Oreo cookie and is covered in a delicious white icing and more Oreo cookie. It all melts together to create what can only be described as a chocolate lover’s dream and an Oreo cookie fan’s delight. If you ever take a trip to Mackinac Island here in Michigan or in town to visit the Auto Show, I suggest you stop by and check it out. It’s pure chocolatey goodness in bar form.
Well, that’s it for now but keep checking back, as I’ll have a complete photo album set up for all of my Auto Show pictures.