Friday, January 20, 2006

Detroit Auto Show

I took a day off with my wife and son yesterday and headed off on a road trip to the annual Detroit Auto Show. It was a nice day for a drive and I looked forward to seeing a large selection of concept cars, perhaps giving me an opportunity to see what my next car, probably sometime in 2010, might look like. Why 2010? I have told my son that I would give him my 2003 Mazda Tribute SUV when he goes to university. That will be in September of 2010.

Yes, I do drive cars I like for a long time. I retired my 1985 Audi 5000, at 18 years old, in 2003 when I bought my current vehicle. I loved that Audi.

A car is basically just transportation to me. I don't care to impress anyone. I don't have to prove anything to anyone. I just want dependable conveyance from points A to B and back and I want to have fun on the trip. The Audi was fun. It handled well, flew like the wind, and was impossible to get stuck in our snowy Ontario winters. I like my Mazda Tribute too. It is really peppy and also handles well. It will make a good car for my son.

When I do buy my next car at age 64, I will probably go for something a bit more upscale. That is really why I wanted to go to the Detroit show, to see what was 'out there,' and might be on the drawing board for the future.

I wasn't impressed. Sure, there were a few cool concept cars, mostly designed and built by Japanese or European companies. Most of what is available to buy today is unimaginative and clunky looking. You know, the sort of vehicle that grandpa or grandma might drive. I know I'm old enough to be someone's grandpa, but I want a vehicle with some pizzazz, some flair, some oomph. And I don't want to spend $350,000 to get it.

Among the American automotive companies, Chrysler (oops, make that DaimlerChrysler, not that much American after all) seems to 'get it' more so than does Ford or GM. GM designs some of the most bland vehicles on the road. Ford simply sticks with the tried and true. Chrysler takes some chances, and its vehicles have 'attitude, ' at least more so than its competitors. If GM doesn't wise up soon, it is going to fall off the automotive map.

It was an interesting day, a chance to spend some time with my wife and son, but I won't be attending another car show for a long, long time, perhaps ever. I can see production cars at my local dealers, don't have to drive 120 miles to see them, don't have to be grilled by snooty border agents, don't have to pay $12.00 per person for tickets, and don't have to pay for parking. I also don't have to pay $3.00 for bottles of sugar water when I get thirsty, or swelter in the ridiculously high temperatures at Cobo Hall. They must have a special setting on their thermostats at Cobo Hall, labeled 'STUN,' or something similar. It was as hot as Hades in there.

The best part of the day, besides the quality time with my family? I didn't get any speeding tickets. 'Ol' Leadfoot', that's me. I have a hard time driving at the ridiculously low speed limits of 100 kph (60 mph) on our Ontario highways. What's with that? Since nobody obeys the limits anyway, why not increase the limits to 125 kph (about 75 mph) which is the speed that almost everyone drives at?

No, that would be too logical, and an impediment to the collection of lucrative speeding fines for government coffers.



  1. Be VERY choosy when buying a DC product.
    Their designs and engineering cannot be beaten, but the quality of matterials and workmanship is somewhat suspect. The "Dodge syndrome" is a good example:
    Trucks and vans good, cars are hit and miss. Any good models are not on the market for long, because they don't breakdown often enough for the dealership to gouge sucker-customers for repairs. Also, be certain you get a standard transmission, as they use Allison tranes for automatic, which (as GM has discovered through dear-bought experience) aren't worth a shit.

  2. Good to know... I'm one of those (presumably rare) guys who know very little about the inner workings of cars. I just love to drive, preferably really fast and on windy, hilly terrain.