It’s Auto Show Season Again

 Chrysler's SRT brand CEO Ralph Gilles introduces the Dodge Charger SRT8 at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show - Photo by Randy Stern
Chrysler's SRT brand CEO Ralph Gilles introduces the Dodge Charger SRT8 at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show - Photo by Randy Stern

Chrysler's SRT brand CEO Ralph Gilles introduces the Dodge Charger SRT8 at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show - Photo by Randy Stern

What attracts you to an auto show?

Is it the prospect of buying a new vehicle within the next several months? Is it to fuel your love for the automobile by checking out what’s new and exciting? Is it witnessing the fantasy of a concept that may appear on our roads a few years down the line?

Or, is it that you work in and around the industry and have to attend these shows to fulfill your professional obligations?

The latter is my reality these days. It was never like that.

I blame my parents. They knew I loved automobiles and took me to my first show at the Los Angeles Sports Arena in 1971. Back then, Los Angeles had two shows: The Auto Show and the Auto Expo. It was the latter that I enjoyed since it had more of a foreign brand bent than the larger, more general show. To me, I thought I was in enthusiast’s heaven. Then again, Southern California continues to offer a cornucopia of automotive eye candy. Today, only the L.A. Auto Show remains – currently one of the largest in the country held every November.

Since then, I attended my share of auto shows – just for fun. I lost count at how many shows I made it to, except for where I attended. The San Francisco show is always a post-Thanksgiving treat. The ones held at the Moscone Center I remember the most from my younger days. I also attended shows in Washington, D.C., Madison and Milwaukee before moving here to the Twin Cities.

The “attending auto shows for fun” part changed a decade ago when I first obtained a press credential to attend the Chicago Auto Show. I was unable to attend the press days earlier in the week due to work obligations, but I did show up on the first public day. I was with my publisher, a friend to this day whom was a part of a common little movement called Gen-X Bears. We went to fulfill a piece for his online magazine to show that gay/bisexual subculturally-identified males do love automobiles. I focused on the production models as his eyes captured some nice concepts. Luckily, photographic proof of my work at that first Chicago Auto Show can be seen on Flickr…somewhere.

This week, I’m heading back to the Chicago Auto Show for the fifth time. I will be there to attend some press conferences and do research on future vehicle subjects for Lavender.

While we’re on the subject of auto shows, the Twin Cities Auto Show is coming up in March. Expect a preview of coming attractions on this site prior to the show’s start on Saturday, March 10. You can go to the Auto Show’s website to get tickets ahead of the first day and check out what is being offered at the Minneapolis Convention Center through Sunday, March 18. Amongst the offerings this year are private tours of the show that includes your own tour guide, parking and a gift package for attending – just before the gates open for everyone else.

It is always a joy to see everyone clamor over the latest new vehicles on the auto show floor. I am always happy to see the many different kinds of people that truly love the automobile. It makes this job easier to do every time. Say what you will about impending fuel pump prices or the geo-political and global economic climate, the automobile’s evolution over the past 126 years gave us something we can still gravitate to. A car can still put a flutter in a person’s heart.


Randy Stern is an automotive writer from Robbinsdale, Minnesota. He can be followed at Victory & Reseda

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