Sunday, January 08, 2006

Blizzard beats Bugatti at L.A. Auto Show

Sam and I checked out the L.A. Auto Show.

Lots of traffic around the Convention Center downtown. Stopped at a dicey intersection a few blocks away, I was surprised to see the sign for the Morrison Hotel, the one the Doors used for the album cover. Boarded up. Probably making way for condos.

This being Sunday, our first stop was Church, the Porsche room, always the highlight. This show’s centerpiece was the new Cayman S, the hardtop version of the Boxster S. Despite the presence of a red-leather Cayman S lounge, the car was a definite disappointment to Sam and other visitors. Most likely because it’s the hardtop version of the Boxster.

Sam: “Porsche’s cheapest car next to the Boxster. Go for the Carerra.”

Moving on. Lots of folks in wheelchairs, lots of serious, businesslike Asian car show girls in black outfits.

Next stop: the exotic car showcase in the Concourse Hall, home of Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Fiskers, Loti, Spykers and Saleens and the like. All the cars are off-limits, except to a select few who've anted up to prove they might be in the market.

This is always the room that's most packed.

This was the room that held this show’s King Kong, the come-on, the car that's head straight for the museum: the $1.2-million, 253-mph, quad-turbo, 1,001-hp Bugatti Veyron, the world's fastest, most expensive production car.

With no touching, no one allowed past the barrier, lots of pushing and shoving and wheelchairs, it was Day of The Locust time, Tom Cruise movie premiere, orphan day the zoo, half of East L.A. taking cell phone pictures of that which they will never have or even valet park. Us included. Strangely, not fun, looking in, when it's so crowded.

Sam: “Who would spend a million dollars on a car that goes 250 miles an hour when a Lamborghini can go 299 for a cheaper price?”

Ford Fairlane

Surprise hit convertible: Volvo C70

Unexpected best in show, hidden behind the Chevys in the South Hall: The Suzuki Blizzard.

“The Triple Black Diamond of SUVs” concept is tailormade for snowboarding and skiing, with game system, flat screens on the seatbacks, Internet access, roof rack snowboard pods and camera, glove and boot warmers, and rear chairlift-style seat and footrest for putting on and removing gear.

This simple SUV caught everyone's imaginations (even more so than the Jeep Hurricane, with the double hemi engines and 360 degree turning ability), a car made expressly for a particular sport, a winter car in sunny L.A.; a reason to snowboard; everyone marvelling at that ski lift chair that can be lowered out the back--and those glove warmers.

Comes in Sea, Dune and Wave versions.

Sam: “It’s a concept?”

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