While the hype and hoopla surrounding the new vehicle introductions at the North American International Auto Show were much covered by the media assembled for press days last week, the stars of the show are three old, and dirty cars of the past.
These are production vehicles – a 1957 Chevrolet Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300G and a 1966 Ford Mustang that were driven in from America’s Car Museum on the left coast to Michigan – a 13-day transcontinental odyssey and piloted by journalists over mountains, through deserts and across the fruited plains. Yes they got dirty.
These were cars that were built when the term “Big Three” meant something beyond what the Detroit automakers are now – supporting players but no longer the superstars in the global automobile business.
The opening of the public show this past weekend followed a “Preview Week” where it’s claimed 5,068 credentialed journalists from 60 different countries endured 57 vehicle introductions of varying importance at a splendidly revamped Cobo Center. An honest count would be that fewer than two dozen intros potentially could have any significant impact on the global automobile business.
Part of the problem was electronics. NAIAS was a week late as the notable news on “connected cars” occurred at press conferences held during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Call it the ongoing “mobility” revolution whose leaders are Apple, Google and myriad Silicon Valley companies that make announcements outside of Detroit.
What you are witnessing in AutoInformed’s view is the end of auto shows as we know them. The industry is pulled like saltwater taffy to peddle its wares at so many venues in the U.S., along with Frankfurt, Geneva, Tokyo and Shanghai for that matter. Something’s got to give.
Nonetheless, Detroiters turned out informal attire for children’s charities. More than $5.2 million was raised at the 2016 North American International Auto Show’s Charity Preview. This brings the total to $105.2 million raised since the Charity Preview became the premier event of the auto show.
AutoInformed notes, sadly, that NAIAS is struggling for relevance in a global world. It was telling that the head of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA) and his auto show chairs were notably absent in the press room and at the Automotive Press Association opening night reception and all of the press days. The comeback town – Detroit – deserves better!