2003 New York Auto Show
By Jon Trudel (No Other use
Permitted without Permission)
I was not as excited by this show as I've been in years past. BMW was nice enough to again invite club members in to the show earlier than the normal 11 AM opening time on Saturday, and we again took advantage of the offer to attend. This year, BMW had no new major announcements at the show, but it did reveal the brand new BMW 330i Sport Package option - A more aggressive suspension, bigger wheels, rear spoiler, and an Alcantera Leather option (it's a special suede on the seats, as well as the smaller steering wheel). It's much grippier than standard leather, and I expect that it will be more comfortable in the Summer as well. The Sport Package will be available on 330is with both the 5 speed and Automatic models. Many people have been anticipating the new 5-Series BMW, and it was absent from the show. BMW rarely seems to bring upcoming model-replacements to the show itself (they will bring concept cars to hint at future models, but not much else besides in-production vehicles), but instead chose to show some photographs of it. Interestingly, they also had in a CPO Z3, to remind people what a fun car it was, and that BMW has a strong Certified Pre-Owned setup with their Dealerships. Oh yeah, if you're really trying to waste time, you can check out this Quicktime movie of the images on the main screen in their booth.
The car manufacturers had several interesting things to show. Chrysler showed off its soon-to-be-released Crossfire which is looking rather sharp, and showed off their Pacifica "vehicle", which isn't short like a traditional Station Wagon, nor is it as tall an traditional SUV. Nissan, Infiniti and Lexus showed off similar vehicles.
In the Ford section of the Show, they showed up the new Mustang GT Coupe. The stylists have gone back to the Mustang's roots for styling cues, but it is a bigger car overall. Quite frankly, I love this car, and I hope it makes it to production soon. On the Lincoln side of things, there was a display about protection that you can get built into your car. There were two displays of armor in the door and the glass, showing examples of how you would be protected in case of "attack".
There were plenty of GM cars, but I personally haven't really fallen for the GM cars like the ones from other manufacturers. While they did show off numerous concept vehicles, my favorite car in all of their sections was the 1953 Corvette, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Congratulations!
I was a little surprised to see a Maybach booth at the show, but I was pleased at what I saw. This is Mercedes high-class breakoff company, and when they say High Class, They really mean it. There was one vehicle there that would cost me several years' salary, and it was gorgeous. Real wood trim, Video Panels on the backs of the front seats, made-to-order Champagne flutes for the rear passengers, and much, much more. What Decadence!!! If I remember correctly, I've heard that the Maybachs will be custom-built based on what the owners want. I would bet that the only on-spec Maybachs made will be in dealerships and car shows. Bravo, Mercedes!
I did get a kick out of the Mini booth. They present a "fun" attitude for their little car. Taking a look at their spec page, you'll see that the car's objective is simply "To Mess With Perfection". BMW had a hand in desigining these beauties, and their insistence on quality does come through. It was kind of amusing to see that in their booth they had steering wheels that turned huge dials so you could play with the color combinations of body, and roof. There was also a standee that was showing brief clips of the upcoming remake of "The Italian Job", and while the story looks like it'll be a big departure from the original, it still looks like it'll be really good.
There were quite a few Other cars worth seeing, like the Ferrari Enzo. Ferrari has always found a way to make its supercars appealing, in both the performance and appearance categories. Downstairs, there was an odd pairing of Ford and Segway, the Human transporter. Ford likes the sort of symmetry you can have between its SUVs and the Segway, as the Segway can be easily transported in the backs of the Fords. The spokesperson mentioned that you could arrange for a "Test Stand" (my words) at the Segway Website, but I did not find such a link.Toyota was showing off its newer Prius, a Hybrid gas/electric car, inj a big way. I haven't liked the styling of the current model, but the newer one is more appealing. Kudos to Toyota for sticking with being environmentally friendly, unlike GM, which announced it will stop making the EV1 electric car. Hopefully this only means it will be announcing a Hybrid vehicle shortly. Lastly, there was an interesting Delivery Vehicle outside, complete with a moving tongue, however, I think it was really cat-napping.
At the Porsche booth, they had the Cayenne, and VW had its sister vehicle the Tourareg (try pronouncing that one without having to look it up!) Audi had it's S4 (which won a recent Car And Driver comparison) in a very electric blue color. VW was touting its new convertible Beetle, and also is now offering it in other colors.
My friend Rachel also was there with me, and she took a lot of good photos. Please feel free to visit her NY Auto Show Pages as well!