Thursday, March 8, 2012

New cars are in charge at the 2012 Greater Kansas City International Auto Show

I was recently told that the Greater Kansas City International Auto Show is the largest trade show-type event held in Bartle Hall each year. It's nice to know that there are still people out there who are interested enough in cars to pay to look at them.

My boss asked me why I would bother to go take pictures of cars that you see everyday on the road. I guess there's some validity to that question. I mean, they had a grey Toyota Corolla sitting there and various other completely lackluster examples of bland, lifeless commuters. Of course, people buy this stuff for one reason or another, so they've got to be there.

But that's not all there is to it. I don't see new Corvette ZR1's everyday, or Shelby Mustangs, or Maseratis. I rarely get to see such a complete representation of Chrysler's SRT line all in once place, or the latest new Cadillacs, or a $187,000 Porsche 911. It's fun to just go and window shop--you know, dream about what would be parked in the ol' garage if you won the lottery.

And there's some fun stuff there. The best manufacturer's display had to go to Jeep, as they featured a little terrain/hill-climbing course that people were allowed to drive on. I don't know how much it cost for them to put it together, but it seems like it was drawing a lot of interest. Heck, I probably wouldn't have thought to write about Jeep if that hadn't been there.

The Kansas City show is different than, say, Detroit, because you get a lot of local dealer participation compared to the all-manufacturer vibe you get at the bigger shows. That means you get some stuff that you might not see someplace else. For example, they don't make SLR McLarens anymore, but they had a used one in the Mercedes display to spice things up.

Volvo had an old 1800E in their display. It was a nice car, and had a local license plate on it. If you saw a car like that in Detroit, it would have likely come from the manufacturer's collection.  Anyway, when you are looking at a room full of new cars, an old one, even if it is a Volvo, tends to stand out.

Believe it or not, the best display in the place wasn't from an auto company, but the U.S. Army. They had all kinds of stuff going on in there. Everything from video games to complimentary personalized dog tags for the kids were available to dazzle and entertain. Plus, the Kansas City Military Vehicles Preservation Society had several very cool old trucks and other pieces of vintage equipment. No, I didn't sight up for the Army, but it was tempting!

Earlier this week, I was invited to have dinner with GM Fairfax officials and Chevrolet representatives, who as you my have predicted, spoke highly of the new 2013 Malibu. I figured all that personal attention warranted a closer look at the new 'Bu while I was at the show. Now, I already really liked the current Malibu, so this one was going to have to be pretty nice. And it was. I don't know if I like the exterior styling as much as the current one, but I think it'll grow on me. The taillights look kind of like a Camaro. But the interior--wow. It's hard to believe the same company that sold the cold, plasticky interior in my '96 Impala SS came up with this lush environment. They also swear it drives much better and is quieter than the current Malibu. I look forward to testing one out pretty soon to see for myself.

Naturally, I'm wrapping this story up with more than 300 pictures from this year's auto show. You'll see that there was a little bit of everything. If you're in the market for a new car, or even if you just like to look at them, there's bound to be something that you'll find ineteresting.


  1. The new Malibus are indeed nice, and so should they be. Theyre a Saab 9.3 under the skin!

  2. Since I didn't make it, I am linking your post on my Facebook page so my readers can see what I missed!

    Thanks for your good work.

    The Observer

  3. You're welcome--thank you for stopping by!