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The Auto Zone

7 things you don't want to miss at the car show

Jan. 12, 2007

(Port Huron, Michigan) Times Herald

By Bill Chapin

It has been 100 years since a group of five car dealers organized the first Detroit Auto Show. Renamed the North American International Auto Show in 1989, last year’s event drew more than 759,310 visitors to Detroit’s COBO Conference/Exhibition Center.

When the show opens to the public on Saturday, there will be more than 700 vehicles on display, not to mention displays designed to inform and entertain. It’s a lot to take in, which is why you need this guide to the Top 7 can’t-miss vehicles and interactive exhibits at this year’s show:

1. Too slot to handle

GM may have swept the auto show’s awards for best car and truck, but Volkswagen would win the prize — if there were such an award — for best toys. VW is the only kid on the block with slot-car racing. Visitors are invited to race a miniature GTI, Rabbit, Jetta and New Beetle around a track while a screen displays lap times. Or you can get behind the wheel of a GTI simulator — one of which swivels around whenever you turn the wheel.

2. Burnin’ Efijy

At Monday’s press preview, few retro concept cars attracted more attention than the Efijy, a coupe by GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden. The poor woman at GM’s information counter should have just had a recording saying: “It’s a Holden Efijy. Yes, it’s a GM car.” With design inspired by the 1953 Holden FJ and a Corvette underbody, the car is found near the Cadillacs.

3. Design a Scion

Toyota’s Scion line was developed to take advantage of the customization craze. What better way to promote it than by letting auto show visitors personalize one at a touch-screen terminal? After choosing the virtual urban decals of your choice, you can have your creation e-mailed home. This cool concept proved a bit user-unfriendly, however, for Brad Boyce, who was at the show with the Australian marketing company GPJ.

“It’s a little bit tricky because it keeps moving,” he said.

4. An electric Volt

If nothing else, GM’s new electric car has been generating buzz. The Chevrolet Volt has an adapter allowing it to plug into a standard wall outlet. It can travel up to 40 miles on battery power, after which a hybrid gasoline-electric engine kicks in, adding another 600 miles of range.

“We’re talking saving 500 gallons (of gasoline) a year and over $500,” said Tony Posawatz, GM’s vehicle line director.

The only thing holding the Volt back is a suitably light and powerful battery, which hasn’t exactly been invented yet. Posawatz said industry experts believe one might be developed as soon as 2010.

5. Streamlined

With its glowing orange trim and cylindrical TV in back, Ford’s Airstream van doesn’t look much like vintage travel trailers which allegedly inspired it. But it is one of the show’s coolest examples of the futuristic concept cars that are a bit too wacky to make it into production anytime soon. As a bonus, you can rest your feet by sitting in one of the Airstream’s Men In Black-style, spherical seats next to the vehicle.

6. Follow your nose

Lincoln finally has done it and created “smellovision.” These displays invite you to sit in cushy leather seats to fully experience what it’s like to drive a Lincoln. As a screen shows you images of rushing roads and things associated with the Lincoln lifestyle (i.e. symphonies and cigars), you are hit by blasts of air carrying that “new car smell.” Or you could take a whiff of one of the actual Lincolns on display.

7. Thumbs up

Suzuki’s Flix concept vehicle is like a portable drive-in theater. A converted XL7 SUV, its roof rises to hoist a 40-inch movie screen. It also comes equipped with a DVD player, projector and a THX sound system. On Monday, Suzuki served popcorn while showing scenes from Tommy Boy and Back to the Future. Unfortunately, the car will be screening Suzuki commercials — without popcorn — when the show opens to the public.


If you go

  • WHAT: North American International Auto Show
  • WHEN: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday through Jan. 20 and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 21.
  • WHERE: COBO Conference/Exhibition Center, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit.
  • TICKETS: $12 adults, $5 senior citizens 65 and older, $6 children 7 to 12, free admission for children 6 and younger. Available online at or, by calling (248) 645-6666 or at the door (cash only).
  • ONLINE: For complete information on the show, including directions, parking and shuttle options, visit
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