Friday, November 13, 2015

2015 Nashville International Auto Show

November means auto show season in Nashville, so we headed out to the Music City Center last weekend for the 2015 Nashville International Auto Show. This is one of the smallest new car shows I think I’ve ever been to. It also boggles my mind that Elvis’ Solid Gold Cadillac is on display just down the street from here at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and there was not one trace of Cadillac at this show. There were also quite a few more cars than I have pictured, but I made the determination that they were not interesting enough to feature. If you want to see Hyundais and Hondas and stuff like that, you’ll have to hit this show yourself next year. If you like sports cars and American pickups, you’re in the right place.

By far, there were more Mustangs at this show than any other car. Rousch had a big display with several modified cars. A few dealers independently brought out a Rousch Mustang or two. Someone was giving a Mustang away in a drawing. And the Ford display had a couple of Mustangs, including this 2016 Shelby GT350. This newest GT350 ditches the supercharger for a naturally-aspirated, 5.2-liter V8 that will pump out more than 500-hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. Of course, since it’s a Shelby, they beefed up the suspension and brakes too. It was hard to get an unobstructed picture of this car with all the people hanging around, so clearly the Ford fans are excited about it.

Chevrolet did the best job showcasing their latest offerings, with all-new 2016 examples of the Malibu, Volt, Spark, and Camaro. They also had the refreshed Silverado and Equinox, and a couple of Corvettes, including a Z06. The Camaro drew the most attention. Sure, it looks similar to the outgoing car, but this one is lighter and smaller, built on the same platform at the Cadillac ATS. It also has a much nicer interior. So far, the magazines are raving about how good this car is, with plenty of attention to quality and performance. I’ve been playing with the online configurer at Chevy’s website, so when I win the lottery, my new Camaro will be all spec’d out. Curiously, there was not one example of the current Camaro in the whole place.

One of the most interesting sections of this show was the “DuPont Registry Live” section, where several exotic cars were on display. They had some newer stuff in there, but I was kind of drawn to this Lamborghini Countach LP500S. Even if I was filthy rich, I doubt I’d want one of these. But they’re more ‘80s than Max Headroom. It reminds me of the opening scene in The Cannonball Run, which is a movie that I happen to like. They made the Countach from 1974 to 1990, and it was ridiculously quirky, exotic, and expensive. Plus, more teenage boys may have had a poster of this car on their wall than Farrah Fawcett. Nobody is going to just drive around in one of these for their car. It’s more of an iconic work of art at this point than a vehicle. But it is fun to look at.

Here’s the only Toyota at the show that I took a picture of. It’s the Denny Hamlin NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camry show car. Of course, this racecar has nothing in common with a street Camry. At their core, these cars have all the ingredients of a great hot rod. 700-hp V8? Check. Good old-fashioned four-speed manual transmission? Check. Capable of burning the treads off the rear tires? You bet. And sure, anyone can acquire an old race car. The difference between the one everyone can get and a competitive one like Denny Hamlin might drive is the people who built it. The folks that work on a Sprint Cup car are brilliant, skilled, highly trained craftsmen who can built something with tolerances imperceptible to a guy with normal garage tools and knowledge.

I took 123 pictures of this year’s Nashville International Auto Show. If you want to see them, check out the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.