The Canadian International Auto Show is, for many car enthusiasts, the high point of the Canadian winter. A chance to spend a day or more poking about in new cars and seeing the newest concept cars. My first impression of the 2011 show is that I was a bit let down.
I suppose I should qualify that feeling, lest you think the show isn’t worth visiting, because it is. Over the 2 previous weeks, I had covered the new car launches at the Detroit and Chicago shows where there were several World or North American premieres. There were no World premieres in Toronto and several of the manufacturer’s booths lacked the extravagance of their counterparts south of the border. I hate to say it, but the first part of my day was a little boring.
After a while, that brought with it the somewhat embarrassing realization that perhaps I’m becoming a little bit jaded. Having been in the car industry for so long and now covering car shows as part of my job for close to a decade means that a show has to really shine to light me up. The truth about the Toronto show is that most, if not all, of the spectacular new models I saw at Detroit and Chicago are also at the Toronto show. There is some really cool stuff there that most show goers will have never seen. The 2012 Hyundai Accent wasn’t at either of the other shows, and is at Toronto. That is a pretty important model in our market and there was quite a buzz surrounding the great looking little car.
After I finished my interviews for The Driver Magazine in the early afternoon, I set off to do a bit of exploration with the camera. This was when the show began to get interesting for me. On the 700 level of the South Building, there is a display entitled ICONS: Camaro & Firebird. This 30,000 square foot area includes examples of just about every model from the 40ish year history of GM’s muscle cars. From bone stock street cars to The Lightweight, made famous by Penske Racing and Mark Donohue, there are some magnificent cars here. Movie and TV buffs will enjoy seeing the cars from Smokey and the Bandit and KITT from Knight Rider.
Back in the North Building, the 100 level has been put into use for displays for the first time in years. At one end of the basement there is a gathering of classic North American cars in the Cruise Nationals display, while the Concorso Exotica across the hall has an incredible collection of exotic cars from Italy, England and North America. Tossed in for good measure are some wonderful classic models from Italian manufacturers Fiat, Alfa Romeo and more.
While I may have exposed myself to a few too many new model launches over the past couple of months, all it takes is some pristine classics and exotics that I haven’t seen before to relight my fire. I’ll be heading back down to the show one day this week to see how the public reacts to the show.