There are a handful of constants that take place toward the end of each and every year - Christmas; a reflection of either how little you accomplished over the past 12 months, or how fast it flew by (depending on your age); and of course, the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Mild in comparison to the mob scene that takes place at SEMA in November, this show is more about the OEMs. It features a mix of new and existing models presented by all of the major automotive manufacturers, along with a handful of racecars and prototypes that help fill the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center each year. I didn't get an official car or booth count, but having attended the show the last 10 years or so, it felt substantially bigger this year.
Throughout the event, each brand's booth is well armed with an group of spokespeople, some models, and information specialists that quote facts, grab your email to send you virtual pamphlets, or tell you about any of the programs or giveaways they might be doing for the day. The word, or rather acronym, of the show this year was certainly "VR;" the virtual reality demos could be linked to the majority of booths on hand and people lined up to get their chance to don a black mask and randomly wave their hands in the air, smiling awkwardly while saying, "Oh my, God. It's, like, so real!" over and over as others watched.
Just off the beaten path is an extremely dark room packed with custom cars complete with all of the songs you were sick of hearing in 2013 blasting through the sound system. Put together by the customization division of dealership giant Galpin Auto, the Hall of Customs features all types of vehicles in varying degrees of customization. If that's not enough modified content for you, I also made my way below the South Hall to a section aptly named "The Garage." This area is packed with import, domestic, European and off-road vehicles built by shops and privateers.
Here's a tour of the OEM and aftermarket portions of the show:
Audi's bright red RS 5 looks the part of a performance-minded sedan and backs it up with a 2.9L twin-turbo V6 that replaces the previous natural V8 and musters even more torque, tipping the scales 443lb-ft. Oh, and AWD, of course.
Igor Polishcuk of CATuned brought out this '89 325is that looked great from far away, and only got better the closer I got. Nestled inside an ultra-clean bay is a built S54 M3 swap that looks right at home. A ton of painstaking detail went into every part of this car and the result is stunning.
At one time, spotting an RWB Porsche in person was a rarity. These days, it's become somewhat common in Southern California as well as other regions. Still, this version was eye catching in glossy black, even when surrounded by bright paint and vinyl wraps begging for a second look.
VR setups were at virtually (see how I used that word?) everywhere this year. This version had multiple people on a platform that moved up and down quickly and it must have been pretty good, because the line was packed for quite a while.
You already saw this carbon-bodied NSX GT3 all over your newsfeed but I'm pretty sure you don't mind seeing it again.
In the South Hall Atrium, Lexus displayed a number of cars and SUVs with aftermarket touches and some wild exterior colors.
And that included their Marvel Black Panther series LC500 that was announced earlier this year with very unique paintwork and silver claw things on the mirrors that I assume someone tried to steal at one point.
A household name in import racing's golden era, Abel Ibarra has been a trailblazer, pushing the performance envelope with multiple builds and his R100 looks better than ever. Note the faux headlights with "Broke Off" listed - he's not lying.
Galpin's Hall of Customs is full of slightly modified, newer model cars but always has a few wildcards thrown in the mix, like this RWB Porsche, a pretty cool lifted VW Atlas, and this bright pink Carrera GT owned by multi-career holder and YouTube sensation, Salomondrin, who reminds you that you're in the wrong business.
"Oh my gosh, I love your knives, they're so sharp and precise." Thanks, I got them from the L.A. Auto show...
Last year Nissan introduced the Rogue One Star Wars edition Rogue crossover. This year Nissan went bigger with full on Star Wars-themed display cars pushing the release of the next movie from the franchise debuting this year, The Last Jedi. Comment of the show comes from the Nissan booth: "I doubt they'd ever sell them like this..."
Subaru came out with an awesome display depicting that time they went bobsledding with an STi, sort of. Also on display was the BRZ ts model that makes any Facebook feed turn into a complete cesspool of negativity because they still didn't add that turbo you think belongs there. Sorry.
Toyota displayed this FTAC concept SUV vehicle that, other than wheel choice, looked really interesting. And that's not your mom's Camry. Or maybe it is, and she just has good taste on the mods. Either way, nicely done. And that Tacoma - it's just waiting for that set of TE37s you've been eye ballin' for the last six months.
The micro-sized Subie 360 is incredible to see in person, mostly because you wonder how four adults would fit inside but then you realize it was created way before super size upgrades, Trenta coffees, and Doordash.