It's that time of year - as the aftermarket car show "season" begins to wind down, the OEM Auto Shows begin ramping up, and the various manufacturers roll out their current and upcoming line ups along with an occasional special edition or demo vehicle for show goers to pour over. And for the past 22 years, Orange County has hosted the eighth largest auto show in the nation right here in our backyard, in the city of Anaheim.
I've never shied away from a bit of "people watching" while marching through the plush carpeted halls of an auto show. It always amazes me just how rough, and often careless, people are with cars they don't own. Whether it's because they feel the $15 entry fee entitles them to aggressively manhandle the display vehicles to determine their true worth, or they simply treat their personal cars in the same fashion, many are rough - real rough.
Make your way from one manufacturer booth to another and you're treated to the very best each brand has to offer with some ushering visitors into a single-file line in order for the chance to sit inside the cabin of their flagship. Other models, perhaps not as high on the totem pole, are a free-for-all of sorts, in which fans can jump inside, slam the ever living shit out of the doors, trunk an hood - even take a phone pic of their little one as the child's coarse buttons leave a lasting impression on that nice new paint.
The trends that blanketed the show shouldn't come as any surprise. Hybrid technology and various plug-ins combined with crossover and SUV-mania served as the main attractions. The not-so-subtle transition to massive, complex front grills that, in comparison to the sleek headlights used on most new cars make them appear even larger, are in full swing.
If you're the type to complain about car's becoming bigger, heavier, and losing their manual counterparts, then current day auto shows will only force you to complain more. The scales continue to tip further as technology and updated safety features pack on the pounds, while auto-equipped transmissions were so common that seeing a 6-speed manual, like the snappy shifters in Honda's Civic lineup, for example, has become a rarity.
The oversized grill look has spread to just about every manufacturer currently. Lexus has long embraced the look and just about all of their lineup feature quite a bit of "grill-estate" (Payow! New word creation right there. It's just that simple) front and center. The Genesis grill is also enlarged but features some additional separation toward the bottom, along with the almost required faux side grill treatment.
My personal favorite from the show was this V12-powered, AWD, Ferrari Four (FF). There's something about its sleek, 2-door hatchback's shooting brake design that stops me in my tracks every time. It looks great on the web, but far more stunning in person.
Like many others, BMW was touting its hybrid technology at the show. That doesn't mean they left the M cars at home, though, with fans clamoring for a chance to sit inside the M3, M5, and M6 display vehicles.
Standard on most BMW models, the "12:00 wrist rest" is beloved by countless owners with no signs of slowing.
Infiniti's Q60 Red Sport is fairly refined on the outside but packing some nicely crafted performance bits under its bright red exterior. The first of which is the 400hp, twin turbo 3.0L V6 that sports dual intercooler water pumps that pitch in to give it an extra 100hp over the standard turbo V6 version.
In addition, that power is harnessed through Infiniti's Intelligent AWD system that puts power to all four wheels when needed, and converts back to RWD only under normal conditions. Carefully crafted front and rear bumper design and cleverly placed under body panels help maintain stability at speed.
It's always a tough call when determining what might be worse for Porsche paint - people literally sitting on the fender to get a picture for the 'gram, or wiping down an entire black car with a dry towel. Always a toss up...
Regardless of age, American's love their convertibles. The 370Z doesn't sport any dramatic changes, and if history is any indicator, it's about time for a new version of Nissan's long running Z car.
Exotics, like this Koenigsegg RS, brought in the largest crowds during the show. More than just a magnet for uninterested patrons blocking all hope of grabbing a photo as they giggled their way through a marathon text chat, this RS owner added the "Draken" label to this beauty, a nod to the Swedish military aircraft that were once produced in the same factory that now churns out a low number of Koenigsegg masterpieces.
The Lexus LC500 was used in a little, tiny movie that you probably never heard of called Black Panther. The demo car celebrates the collaboration with one of the most successful blockbusters to date.
So intriguing were the massive wheels, claw-induced mirrors, and superhero mural that these kiddos were left to fend for themselves long enough to make my dad mode kick in and I couldn't bring myself to move to the next booth until I saw the parents eventually return to the little guys.
Lexus displayed this crossover that's set to arrive in December of this year and promises to pack a ton of technology and user-interface options. The Hybrid Lexus UX is based on an all-new chassis and suspension set up along with electronic AWD. In addition, an F Sport version is said to be in the works.
This Special Edition version was fitted with an NIA Auto Design ABS lip kit before being vinyl wrapped in Lagoon blue. 20x9/20x10 Vossen VFS-1 rollers with Nitto Invo tires along with Apexi EXV dampers set the look and feel while an Apexi N1-X cat-back adds a touch of performance.
The 10th gen. Civic and Civic Si that you said would never sell because it lacked the spirit of previous generations is experiencing record sales numbers and seems to be increasing in popularity among the enthusiast market.
The FK8 Type R has proven itself on a global scale with track antics based on the Nurburgring as well as stateside, popping up at track events around the country, including our FF Battle 9 and 10 events. And while it's been seen a million times, the white CTR in Honda's booth was bombarded by show goers throughout the day.