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Notes from the 2009 Cleveland Auto Show

Here's a few random comments and photos from my visit to the Cleveland Auto Show on Feb. 28.

I'll start with "Things My Wife Wouldn't Let Me Have Even If We Could Afford Them":

Heavy Metal

BMW 318i Semir Gurkhan Designer Edition

The manufacturers were falling all over themselves to talk about how "green" their cars are.


There were also a lot of small cars with a surprising amount of interior space. The Cube's back seat is humongous. I wish I could show you, but I couldn't get a good picture through the tinted glass.


The Kia Soul is another miracle of space efficiency.


I was pleasantly surprised by how well my rather large self fit in a Smart Fourtwo.

Smart Fourtwo (shown actual size)

Suicide doors must be the next big thing in styling. Besides the Lincoln C, there was this Saturn electric car prototype.

Electric Saturn 

Suicide is painless 

It's said to have a range of 34 miles and a recharge time of three hours.

In the meantime, Scion was making a play for the tuner-car set:


The current state of the domestic auto industry, summarized:

Dodge Fever--NOT! 

The new Camaros, on the other hand, were attracting attention. They were constantly surrounded by people poking, pointing, and waiting their turn to just sit in them. You can't tell anything about the driving dynamics from a static display, but based on the crowd reaction, I'd say GM nailed it on the styling.

Camaro RT Flypaper Edition 

They had a couple more fenced off behind a rope line, which was the only way I could get a clear photo of the car.


Toyota had an outdoor "Driving Adventure" at which you could drive an FJ Cruiser or a pickup truck around a short obstacle course. I drove the Cruiser. It's nice for a big truck.


In a separate exhibition hall off to the side, they had the classic car display. The old-school stuff may not be as eco-friendly, but it's got a lot of personality.

Kickin' it old school

That color screams 1970

This 1920 Mercer Raceabout was part of a display from the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum.

1920 Mercer

We'll close with the winner of the Car Lust Trophy, a pristine 1980 Chevrolet Citation:

Chris Hafner was here 

--Cookie the Dog's Owner


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Nice aftermarket paint job on that "pristine" '80 Citation. It looks like it could use another polishing session with the buffer.

I've been an attendee of the St. Louis Auto Show since I was 5 years old. Over the last 5 years, it's gotten worse every year. This year however, was something else entirely. Your photo of the Dodge booth summed it up pretty well. MASSIVE amounts of dead space in lots of the booths. Saturn was the worst offender at my show with maybe 8 cars in the space normally used for 25.

It looks like Cleveland at least was able to keep more of the brands. In STL, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Suzuki, and Mini were all no-shows this year. Audi and Jaguar had already pulled out in prior years. Scion seemed to be the only brand bringing a sense of excitement to their booth with freebies and large displays like you show in the picture. The Cube impressed me, the Soul did not.

Aside from the dead space, the Big 3 really seemed to struggle to get anyone to even look at their products. Ford had to resort to using a talking robot to attract attention. GM roped the two Camaros off at my show, and the V6 was an ugly teal color that hasn't been used on ANYTHING since the 90's. When will they learn? impression from the san antonio autoshow this autumn was almost exactly what you've shown above...

The Saturn looks almost like the new Opel Ampera, which is based on the Chevy Volt :)

Looks alot like the boston show as well.

....Although you seem to have had better attendance. This was the first year the Boston Show was in the new Zillion Dollar Mega-Convention Center so maybe the space just made the attendance look small. There just didn't seem to be any enthusiuasm in any of the booths. and NO BOOTH BABES. .... maybe that was the problem.

Re: Saturn w/ suicide doors...
What's the point??? There's a REASON they call 'em SUICIDE DOORS! And it's a good one too! I can't see them ever being allowed to be used (in the US anyway) without a bunch of gadgetry that wouldn't allow them to open while the car is moving... seems like it would be cost prohibitive.... though now that I think about it, they have pickups with little tiny doors but those aren't "real" doors for "real" seating. Maybe I'm wrong... wouldn't be the first time... (in the last hour)....

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