Thursday, March 3, 2011

When you visit the auto show in Kansas City this weekend, it'll be good, but there was a time when it would have been spectacular

The Kansas City International Auto Show is in Bartle Hall this weekend, and I plan to go there and take a bunch of pictures for you and post them here. And they'll be OK. Lots of clean, shiny cars. Most of them just like the ones that are already out on the roads right now.

Did you know that there have been some 2012 model-year cars and trucks available for better than a month now?

Did you know that Chevrolet's concept car this year during their 100th anniversary at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the biggest show of the year, was a slightly modified new Aveo?

These days, the idea of a "dream car" seems almost taboo. Watch or read any news report from the auto show this year. You know what they're going to talk about? Fuel mileage. How many miles-per-gallon does this car get? How many miles-per-gallon does that truck get? Chevrolet Volt. Nissan Leaf. Hybrid whatever. Barf.

Of course, gas prices are starting to climb rapidly, as the analysts predicted, so this would be the hot news de-jour. It ain't too romantic, but it's apropos, I suppose.

You know, there was a time when the unveiling of new models was a huge deal, not an unceremonious drop into the product pipeline an entire year before the actual model year. There was a time when people were madly passionate about cars. There was a time when glamour and style stood above all else, and nobody gave a second thought to fuel mileage.

The message was more optimistic. America was more optimistic. And people were proud of their country and the products we made here. It might not have been the utopia it seemed in hindsight, but there's a certain bit of romance that has been lost forever.

I ran across this video that General Motors produced in 1956 to promote their lavish Motorama Dream Car Shows. This thing had to have the budget of a major motion picture. Sure, it seems a little, how should I put this, "bizarre" today. I mean a masked phantom whisks a woman from her bed to see some new cars and the kitchen of the future. But I still think it's pretty entertaining. Not like something they'd consider doing now, that's for sure.

And look at the cars. No warmed-over Aveos in this lineup. These are some spectacular cars. And I'm not just talking about the concepts--the production models are awfully special too. Enjoy!

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