Sunday, January 29, 2012

2012 Philadelphia Auto Show

I have been driving my dream car for six years now, and I hope to get another six out of it. Therefore, a trip to the Philadelphia Auto Show for me is pure fantasy. I always liked cars, though, and I'm equipped with enough curiosity about them that the Auto Show is entertaining for me. If they we to stop making MINI Coopers tomorrow and I needed a new car after that, I'd probably be looking at the Fiat 500 or one of those small, sporty Hondas or Toyotas.

Fred and some bearded gents check out the Fiat 500, my back-up vehicle.
If I were to suddenly become the parent of another dog, and that dog was a Saint Bernard, I'd probably move up to the MINI Clubman. (The MINI Countryman does not hold the same appeal to me.)
This is me trying on a MINI Clubman.

One of my earliest memories is from the parking lot of the Shop Rite in Rio Grande, NJ. I was grocery shopping with my mom, and as we walked back to our car, a Mustang drove by. A "Bonanza" fan then as now, I noticed the horse on the grill, and it became my favorite car. I must have been two or three. 
Hot stuff: the Ford Mustang
Mustangs are still my favorite muscle car, so it didn't take much for Christine, an impossibly-thin Ford auto show representative with the most awesome necklace I will have to now copy, to talk me into taking one for a test drive at my local dealer. As she explained, "Ford doesn't want to sell you the car; they want you to talk about your test-drive to your friends. That's good advertising for them." I will be rewarded with a $50 gift card, and probably a lot of email. I have loved Mustangs for 45 years but never driven one, so I figure I owe myself.

The indoor Toyota Hybrid test-drive track at the Philadelphia Auto Show
Fred, on the other hand, will be test-driving a Ford Escape Hybrid or a Focus at the "local dealer." He is looking to downsize from a minivan, but needs some capacity for hauling heavy tools and newspaper bundles and bikes. We looked at a bunch, and finally landed at Toyota where we each got to ride in actual hybrid models while the Toyota driver gave us the sales pitch. I was dispatched to the Highlander Hybrid with a list of Fred-questions to ask, and Fred rode in the Prius V Hybrid which he's had his eye on. Unfortunately for us, the sales pitch consisted mostly of a lesson in how hybrid motors work (remedial for Fred and anyone in his inner circle), but I did get to ask my questions and learn a few tidbits about the Highlander. The neat thing was that I rode around in a real car inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center!

The Auto Show is an entertaining afternoon if you like cars. If you don't follow them you have to go in with some sort of a scenario to guide you explorations like my what-ifs above. If your what-ifs include the wildly fantastical, make sure you hit Hall F beneath the main show where you will see mainly after-market products like finishes, glazes, lights, ginormous sub-woofers, and custom wheels. Harley-Davidson is down there, too, and Fred and I signed up to win the bike of our choice and probably more email!
Menacing Margie on a Harley

More tips in case you decide to go to the Philadelphia Auto Show:
  1. Take the train if you can. The Market East Station is adjacent and the Auto Show is easy to find from there. Parking is expensive. 
  2. The Convention Center is sweltering hot. Don't overdress. 
  3. Eat ahead of time (hot dogs are $5), or have your hand stamped for re-entry. We wandered over to 15th & Chestnut on the other side of City Hall for burgers and fries at Five Guys. There are TONS of places to try in Philadelphia for a quick bite, but the Gallery's Food Court and the Reading Terminal Market, also connected to the Market East Station and the Convention Center, will be quite crowded during a big event like this.
  4. Wear comfy shoes. Those concrete floors are brutal.
  5. Bring a camera. I was amazed at how many people besides me we taking thoughtful shots of the vehicles with serious cameras (rather than a just quick snap with an iPhone of their kid sitting inside). Automobile photography.


Tyra Shortino said...

Those were good tips right there, Margaret. Another thing, you should also ask about the car's history, parts, and how comfortable the car is while you’re behind the wheel, just in case you wanted to buy one. These 3 things can help you figure out what is the best type of car for you to buy, if you manage to save enough money to buy one in the future.

Vannessa Gabbett said...

You're right, Tyra. Those were good tips to ponder on whenever you're planning in attending car show events. Basically, these are tips on how to make you comfortable physically, but how about mentally? How can we prepare ourselves not to be overwhelmed when we see beautiful vintage cars on display? :) I guess, there’s no solution to that. Heheh.

Erwin Calverley said...

You look good in that Mini Clubman! I like it as much as I like the red Fiat on top. I really appreciate small cars, but unfortunately, I can't drive one because I drive on an empty freeway everyday and safety will be the concern. So looking at them and admiring them would be enough for me, but hey, you looked real badass on that bike haha :)

Erwin Calverley

Margaret said...

Thanks Erwin. In fact, MINIs are very highway-safe. I don't know about the Fiats.