ASNA Partners

ASNA Manufacturing Partners

the Auto Show Report
A compilation of news and developments for and about Auto Shows of North America

  • Skip Barber’s school of rock (and roll)
  • Former GM designer continues love of automobiles
  • ASNA Summer Meeting 2004
  • Chrysler Group’s Jason Vines to headline ASNA Summer Meeting
  • Atlanta
  • Detroit
  • Hawaii
  • Milwaukee
  • Pittsburgh
  • San Diego
  • Credits/Contacts
  • Show Directory

    Auto Shows of North America (ASNA) is a committee of Automotive Trade Association Executives. The Mission of ASNA is to be the industry resource for auto show information and education, and to provide a network for communication between show executives, manufacturers, other industry affiliates and media.

    Skip Barber’s school of rock (and roll)

    Hard braking. Sharp turns. Wheel screeching acceleration.

    Another mundane commute to the office? No way. This time it’s legal and brought to you by the Skip Barber Racing School, one of a growing number of ride and drive initiatives that’s putting auto show attendees behind the wheel of show vehicles.

    It’s all part of a new, albeit, controlled, auto show experience that’s set up for the benefit of those who will line up for the opportunity to drive a vehicle instead of just kicking its tires.

    Connecticut-based Skip Barber also teaches skills to enthusiasts required to race successfully at more than 20 race tracks around the United States. For some, the programs are a potential first step towards a professional career. To others, they are the culmination of years of anticipation and curiosity… (and a great birthday gift).

    The Skip Barber auto show experience starts with a meeting with auto show organizers, who partner with Skip Barber’s Special Projects Group to make the pitch to a show exhibitor. In the case of Anaheim’s California International Auto Show, it was Ford Motor Company’s Ford Division and Volvo Cars of North America that invested $50,000 a day for what amounted to the ultimate test drive strategy: put hundreds of targeted buyers in your vehicles and let them fall in love with the experience.

    Laszlo Nagy

    Indeed, it’s what Laszlo Nagy says is central to the power of the program Skip Barber is bringing to the auto show experience.

    “The fact that we’re a third party source of information is in itself a powerful thing,” says Nagy, senior account manager at the racing school. “As such we’re seen to be unbiased, and people attending the show will ask questions that they may not necessarily ask someone in a dealership or even at the auto show exhibit.”

    And they certainly wouldn’t be given an opportunity to put a vehicle “through its paces” – something that’s a given with a Skip Barber event.

    “It’s one of the biggest things we have going for us,” says Nagy. “The attendee is in an environment where they can test drive the vehicle in ways that they couldn’t anywhere else – unless they don’t mind getting arrested.”

    While Nagy is smiling as he makes the comment, he’s also not kidding.

    And because the exhibitor has already arranged for an exclusive representation as part of the negotiated fee for the event, the list building of qualified buyers who can check off one more step on their way to a vehicle purchase can be a powerful marketing tool.

    “It immediately puts them in the vehicle,” says Nagy. “As a result, we’re cutting the fat off the entire process. By the time they finish with us, they know what they want. From there it’s off to the dealership with a decision made.”

    The Skip Barber organized event in Oklahoma City featured three offerings from separate DaimlerChrysler divisions.

    The Skip Barber package includes setting up a course, typically in a parking lot adjacent to the exhibit hall, as was the case in Anaheim. At Oklahoma City, another Skip Barber event that was sponsored by DaimlerChrysler (and featuring the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands), attendees were lured to the ride and drive as they walked from one building to another.

    In addition, the company provides professional driving instructors who accompany participants, while maintaining strict safety guidelines during what is typically a 10-minute, but lasting experience.

    And what about shows where outdoor space is at a premium or even non-existent? Nagy says the company is able to work out alternatives, even if it means taking the experience to the streets.


    Crowds aren’t reluctant to line up for a ‘Ride and Drive’ experience.

    “We’ll either do a street drive, absent some of the more ‘extreme’ driving options, or set up a course in a parking lot and shuttle people to and from the exhibit hall,” says Nagy. “It takes a bit of creative thinking, but we’re able to put together some very workable scenarios.”

    Nagy says he believes more auto shows will want to participate in the program or one like it, especially as they see early adopters like Ford and Volvo reap the benefits.

    “It certainly differentiates the manufacturer from others at the show,” says Nagy.

    But it’s not just the manufacturer that benefits, he says. “Where the objective is to sell tickets, this gets people in the doors and raises attendance. It allows show organizers to have something unique, something they can’t do at any other type of public show.”

    Former GM designer continues love of automobiles

    Alex Buchan of Warren, Mich., has spent most of his life designing automobile interiors and exteriors that make drivers see a vehicle as much more than a mode of transportation. Indeed, from his perspective, his job was to transform personal transportation into something that is as moveable as art can be.

    One of Alex Buchan’s works of automotive art—a 1927 Dodge truck.

    Buchan still sees the automobile as art form.

    “I think the automobile is the single most creative object of the 20th century,” says Buchan, now 65. “It’s been 100 years (since its creation). Look at the number of people who stand in line to get into the auto show. People are very excited about cars.”

    In the three years since retiring from a 40-year career with General Motors, Buchan has devoted most waking hours to creating his own bronze automotive sculpture.

    “They are the best hours of the day,” he says. “I’ve always had to keep making art.”

    Automotive sculptor Alex Buchan at work

    It’s in his personal studio, crammed with all matter of art supplies, wood and plastic pieces and numerous works in progress, that Buchan creates “art with motion,” often using wood and bronze, two of his favorite materials.

    The art has gained Buchan acclaim in such events as the annual Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance in Rochester, Mich. And his work is often seen at other Michigan car shows, including the ones in Bay Harbor and at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners.

    Buchan’s work includes pieces done on commission for a number of auto dealers and even manufacturers such as Chrysler, for whom he produces awards for top performing dealers. He is also noted for producing and selling individual pieces.

    One happy buyer of Buchan’s work is Ed Schoenthaler, owner of west Chicago’s Crossroads Chevrolet Buick.

    “Alex is very precision minded, but whimsical enough that his pieces look like they are in motion,” says Schoenthaler, who is creating his own personal automobile museum and who owns two Buchan pieces—a bust of Louis Chevrolet and a bronze replica of the Buick Bug, an early 20th century racer. “His art seems to be of a quality that really no one else is doing in bronzes, with the exception of Stanley Wanless.”

    A substantial part of Buchan’s work depicts vintage cars in action. He said a particularly tough piece to sell was a sculpture of a 1935 Bugatti Type 59, one of the last examples of an open-wheeled racer.

    “I asked myself, ‘Can I finish off another piece that good?’” he says with a smile.

    Buchan, who notes that automobile history has always fascinated him, says he misses the design staff at GM’s Technical Center in Warren, with whom he worked on interiors and exteriors for Buick, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet and Cadillac.

    “The design staff was a family,” he says.

    While the automotive subject is dear to Buchan’s heart, it isn’t all he does.

    Past work has included large-scale human sculpture, as well as crosses and altar tables for various churches. One example is the five years he spent creating an eight-foot wood-carved depiction of da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” which is still displayed at Grand Rapids First Covenant Church.

    Still apparently looking for variety, Buchan says he’s now considering painting – something he says he wanted to do in younger days.

    His inspiration? The next generation.

    “I’m getting a lot of ideas from my grandchildren,” he says, referring to Alex, 7; Adeline, 3 ½, and one-year-old Emily.

    Buchan’s studio is at 6301 Hughes Drive in Sterling Heights, Mich. He can be reached at 586.939.9939, ext. 342.

    ASNA Summer Meeting 2004

    Somehow you just know that if a conference is going to be held at The Broadmoor Resort and Spa in Colorado Springs… it's going to be a very successful meeting.

    The Broadmoor Resort and Spa, Colorado Springs.

    Auto Shows of North America will hold its annual summer meeting July 13 in conjunction with the 2004 ATAE Summer Conference at The Broadmoor. And, like last year, the day will be dedicated to discussions of timely and relevant auto show issues and topics with an eye toward working through challenges together.

    The ASNA all day meeting provides a vital opportunity for manufacturers, show organizers and other show industry partners to get to know each other by participating in roundtable discussions. This year, Jason Vines, vice president - communications, DaimlerChrysler Corporation, will be the keynote speaker. Vines, a 20-year public relations professional, who has also worked with Ford Motor Company and Nissan, will discuss the factors that go into the location of product introductions.

    Other presentations by specialists from the insurance industry will discuss and interpret findings of an ASNA-sponsored survey, and provide considerations for potential group purchasing opportunities.

    The ASNA Summer Meeting wouldn't be possible without the support of its sponsors who commit more than financial resources, but also become active participants in important discussions directly affecting auto shows today. The 2004 sponsorship list is growing rapidly, and ASNA is pleased to welcome many new organizations, all of which will be listed completely in the next issue of The Auto Show Report.

    For more information on the ASNA Summer Meeting, please contact Joe Rohatynski at 313.378.6570 or

    Note: the ASNA program opens with a Welcome Reception on Monday, July 12, from 6:00 - 8:00 pm. Meetings and roundtables are on Tuesday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm followed by an ASNA reception from 5:00 - 6:00 pm.

    Chrysler Group’s Jason Vines to headline ASNA Summer Meeting

    Jason Vines, the multi-talented, quick-witted automotive public relations executive who’s never been out of work for more than five minutes, will be the keynote speaker at Auto Shows of North America’s 2004 Summer Meeting, July 13, in Colorado Springs.

    Jason Vines

    Vines, 44, returned to DaimlerChrysler last December as vice president of communications. His new boss, Chrysler Group President and CEO Dieter Zetsche, says Vines has “a proven track record of being on the forefront of creative communications in our industry.”

    A 20-year automotive industry veteran, Vines first joined Chrysler in 1983, and held several labor relations and communications positions, including serving as head of product and brand public relations. While at Chrysler, Vines served as "executive on loan" for three years to the American Automobile Manufacturers' Association, where he reported to then-president Andrew Card.

    He left Chrysler in 1998 to become vice president of public relations and later vice president of external affairs in charge of public relations and government affairs for Nissan North America. While there, he reported to Carlos Ghosn and was named (in 1999) an Automotive News "all star" in public relations.

    Vines then joined Ford Motor Company in February 2000 as vice president of communications. In that role, he led the external and internal communications for Ford and its Premier Automotive Group brands worldwide, and served as a top spokesman for then-CEO Jacques Nasser during the Explorer-Firestone tire controversy, which would become one of the most challenging periods in the company’s 100 year history.

    Atlanta shatters attendance records

    March Madness? Basketball?

    Not quite.

    For organizers of the 2004 Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show, surging crowds were the challenge as several attendance records were shattered.

    “We never imagined that our attendance would increase by 13 percent over our previous record year,” said Shayne Wilson, president of the Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association. That was just last year; the show overall set four of five daily attendance records, and opening day attendance was a remarkable 68 percent higher than 2003.

    That was the first year the MAADA began producing the show; attendance has gone up more than 25 percent since then.

    Signing pin-up calendars is just part of the job for the ladies from '680 The Fan.'

    Wilson says the popularity of the show has contributed to a sold-out situation as far as exhibit space is concerned.

    Indeed, there was more demand for space than could be accommodated by show time and many vendors were placed on a waiting list for 2005.

    Those who were able to exhibit in the 650,000 square feet of space stood out, says Wilson.

    “The displays in each exhibit area were exceptional—the best the industry has to offer,” he says. “The manufacturers also brought in more special introduction vehicles than ever before, which was a big draw for the show.”

    The festivities began with “A Night of Cars & Stars”—a preview party benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which hundreds attended. The event culminated with a concert by country music star Buddy Jewell, sponsored by two local radio stations (KICKS 101.5 FM and EAGLE 106.7 FM).

    In addition to the music, the event was attended by a number of local sports and media celebrities.

    Media Day (actually “media morning”—on the first day of the show) attracted more than 40 area and national media representatives who attended press conferences by several manufacturers, including General Motors, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, Lincoln-Mercury and Ford, plus a luncheon and presentation by Hank Hale, manager of the GM Doraville Plant.

    The next day saw Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announce that Porsche Cars North America would ship an estimated 600 Carrera GT vehicles (worth $440,000 a piece) from the ports of Savannah and Brunswick over the next three years.

    Harry the Hawk, Atlanta's NBA mascot, was up to his typical zany tricks at the show.

    Show highlights included the appearance of Finland’s two-time World Trials Motorcycle Champion Tommi Ahvala, who wowed crowds with a demonstration of skill.

    Also helping to draw crowds was the Team Extreme BMX Professional Bicycle Stunt Show, with four appearances daily.

    The show paid tribute to vehicles of the past with a special display of some 25 vintage and classic cars—part of the “20th Century Auto Show” exhibit. Those included a 1914 Ford Model T, 1955 Dodge Coronet, 1957 Chevrolet Belair, 1966 Sunbeam Tiger, and 1967 Buick Riviera, coupled with an “Atlanta Journal-Constitution” display that featured computer printouts of news that happened on a visitor’s birthday.

    Additional show stoppers included an appearance by Jim Mora, the Atlanta Falcons new coach and the football club’s defensive star Ed Jasper, both courtesy of Ford Motor Company.

    “Harry the Hawk,” the Atlanta Hawks mascot was also a crowd-pleasing highlight of the show, as was a final day giveaway—a Mercedes Benz CLK, sponsored by Butler Tire.

    Profile: Atlanta Journal-Constitution International Auto Show

    Mar. 10-14, 2004

    Georgia World Congress Center

    Exhibit Space:
    650,000 square feet

    Adults $8, Children (6-12) $5 (under 6 free)

    Show Hours:
    Wed./Thurs. 11 am-9 pm; Fri. 11 am-10 pm; Sat. 10 am-10 pm; Sun. 10 am-7 pm

    Show Contact:
    Shayne Wilson, ATAE
    President, Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $2 off adult (Wed.-Fri.) with coupon from dealer; $4 off adult (Wed.) with coupon in newspaper, $2 off adult (Thurs.-Fri.) with coupon in newspaper. No discounts Sat. or Sun.

    A proactive strategy befitting of the Super Bowl

    Certainly, there were the dozens of vehicle unveilings. Some 79 in total, 55 of which were worldwide debuts.

    The big, bright displays of the NAIAS.

    But for Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, and host of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), the focus has already shifted – and not just to next year’s show.

    Fact is, Alberts is eyeing 2006, the year crowds for the NFL’s Super Bowl XL will be entering the Motor City just as auto show exhibitors are packing up and heading home.

    While it’s a fact that hosting a Super Bowl represents another $300 million economic boost to the city (NAIAS brings in an estimated $500 million in benefit annually), having back-to-back blockbuster events does come with its own set of challenges.

    And opportunities.

    “We want to develop the kind of cooperative effort that will take both the Super Bowl and the NAIAS to new levels,” says Alberts. “That’s going to take a good deal of preparation and foresight from virtually everyone involved.”

    Alberts says he’s looking to the 2005 NAIAS as a preview to Super Bowl, particularly with the introduction of the Motown Winter Blast, a two-years running signature event that will debut next February.

    “This gives people who attend the NAIAS, especially those who travel here, another reason to stay and enjoy what Detroit has to offer,” says Alberts. “It also helps us work out some of the logistical challenges we know we’ll have a year later.”

    Alberts is working with the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau as well as the Super Bowl Organizing Committee to smooth the way for both the NAIAS and football spectacular to co-exist.

    “Taking this approach to the organization is something we believe very strongly in,” says Alberts. “It comes down to this: you can work hard at making the two events work seamlessly or you can just let it happen. We think it’s a better strategy to be proactive.”

    But NAIAS is, after all, Alberts’ primary focus. An event that continues to draw huge crowds, indeed, an estimated one out of six people from the Detroit region attend the show every year.

    Detroit's Charity Preview, which raised $7 million for children's charities in one night, continues to benefit those who need it most in the Motor City.

    “We’re very fortunate to have had the level of growth we’ve experienced in the last 15 years,” says Alberts. “Certainly, there’s still room for growth, particularly with the Supplier Preview Days, but our Charity Preview is sold out, as is the space for the show.”

    Alberts expects that to change in the future with a potential for the city of Detroit to eventually expand or replace Cobo Center, the longtime home of the NAIAS.

    And he’s also enthusiastic about what membership in Auto Shows of North America can mean, not only to NAIAS but to every other auto show that is part of the organization.

    “We all have things in common as auto shows,” says Alberts. “There are ideas that we all benefit from, no matter how large or small, and every ship rises with the tide. ASNA is all about sharing ideas and creating better auto shows and experiences for the many audiences involved.”

    Profile: North American International Auto Show

    Jan. 10-19, 2004

    Cobo Center

    Exhibit Space:
    1 Million square feet

    Adults, $12; Seniors, $6; Children under 12, free.

    Show Hours:
    10 am-10 pm daily

    Show Contact:
    Rod Alberts, ATAE
    Executive Director, Detroit Auto Dealers Association

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $8 Any Day Passes (25 or more)

    Like showing cars in the lobby of a four star hotel

    Go ahead: try to imagine a better place than Hawaii to enjoy the latest in vehicles. Talk about the First Hawaiian International Auto Show and it’s tough to avoid the scenery.

    Or the weather.

    Only the weather outside was more beautiful than the show floor of the First Hawaiian International Auto Show.

    But Dave Rolf, as executive director of the Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association, does try.

    “The venue is always a highlight here in the Aloha State,” admits Rolf, who points to the Hawaii Convention Center as an excuse for making most of the rest of us (those who don’t live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean) at least thinking jealous thoughts.

    Rolf is still talking.

    “People who travel around the country say it’s one of the most beautiful centers they have seen,” he says. “It’s like showing a car in a four-star hotel lobby.”

    Ah, the cars.

    In some 200,000 square feet of space (or four acres), the First Hawaiian show (the long-time sponsor is First Hawaiian Bank) has expanded significantly from its previous 85,000 square foot venue.

    Happy Birthday to Mustang. Members of the local Hawaii enthusiast club were ready (on the actual day) to celebrate.

    Those displays included a 40th year of the Mustang, highlighted in the media by a local news anchor and Mustang owner, who featured Ford’s 2005 concept Mustang.

    Also on the subject of America’s original pony car, the show featured a large display of vehicles courtesy of the Aloha Mustang Shelby Club.

    And because it was, after all, a birthday for the Mustang, the festivities included a multi-tiered cake – cut on April 17, the exact anniversary of the first unveiling of the car at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

    “What’s the mileage?”

    Dave Rolf says that was the question most often heard around vehicles at the show, the obvious result of higher fuel prices generally, and in the islands particularly, where fuel is as high as $2.40 a gallon.

    It’s also a reason for the popularity of vehicles such as the Toyota Prius hybrid, which is currently on significant back order.

    Another vehicle display, for Toyota’s Scion brand, was just as popular.

    “We had crowds of people either in the vehicle or waiting to get into it,” says Rolf.

    The larger venue for the show also saw several exhibitors, including Toyota and Nissan, use bigger, two-tier displays at the First Hawaiian Show.

    R. Lee Ermey, the gunnery sergeant in “Full Metal Jacket” and host of the History Channel’s “Mail Call” was on hand for autograph signing (and pictures—seen here with Dave Rolf’s son new Marine recruit Noah)

    Rolf sees the calendar positioning (the show is one of the last major events of the season) as a reason more manufacturer representatives see the venue as an opportunity to stay a few days to enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer.

    The show itself has successfully transformed from the free event it was before 2000 (it was first launched in 1978) to one of several Motor Trend branded auto shows.

    That and a gain in new car sales (Hawaii has seen the highest increase – 17.6 percent – in years) has Dave Rolf waking up smiling.

    He is, after all, in Paradise.

    Profile: First Hawaiian International Auto Show

    April 15-18, 2004

    Hawaii Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    200,000 square feet

    Adults $7, Children (7-12) $4 (under 6 free), Seniors (62 plus) and Military $5

    Show Hours:
    Thurs.-Fri. noon-10:30 pm; Sat. 10 am-10:30 pm; Sun. 10 am-7 pm

    Show Contact:
    Dave Rolf, ATAE
    Executive Director, Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $1 off at dealers, First Hawaiian Bank branches; $2 off newspaper coupon (Thurs. only); $2 off at McDonald’s Restaurants (with $1 going to Ronald McDonald House Charities for every coupon redeemed).

    Popular show takes the sting out of Milwaukee winter

    Tuner salon. Exotic car display. Segway’s Human Transporter. Eleanor from “Gone in 60 Seconds” fame. All were part of the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show, a presentation of the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Milwaukee (ADAMM) and one of 16 Motor Trend Auto Shows produced around the country. And some of the reasons the show has seen an eight percent increase in attendance, says ADAMM President Don Hansen.

    The Lamborghini Diablo, always a crowd favorite, was a hit at the Milwaukee show.

    “Certainly there were a number of factors, but largely we had a number of crowd pleasers that helped,” says Hansen, in particular pointing to a display of a dozen or so Ferraris that turned heads.

    Hansen also said a Saleen S7 Supercar—owned by the inventor of a glue that secures aquarium glass—was yet another draw.

    “This guy even has his own car wash,” says Hansen (who might have one as well if he had a $500,000 vehicle in his garage).

    Organizers once again hosted the Charity Gala and Preview tradition, which raised funds for the United Way. The third annual event was held at the Midwest Airlines Center and included gourmet delicacies and music entertainment while guests strolled through aisles of vehicles.

    BMW’s ZX4 was another Milwaukee attraction.

    Marketing the auto show continues to be a strong suit in Milwaukee, where ADAMM spends about $100,000 in direct advertising, including with the “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” newspaper (a show sponsor) but gets a leveraged amount of airtime through the Milwaukee Area Radio Stations, partly a result of a bulk purchase that results in some 11,000 one-minute spots.

    “It does pay to advertise,” says Hansen, who says he doesn’t mind the auto show taking credit for a recent upswing in auto business.

    “We’re another medium for advertising, but business is picking up.”

    In reality, the auto show does jumpstart the traditional spring selling season.

    “Most dealers think that as well,” says Hansen. “In Wisconsin, people don’t like to buy in the winter. They wait until the snow is gone.”

    Serious SUV enthusiasts flocked to the Hummer display at the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show.

    And speaking of weather, even though the show’s February dates might have been a problem in the past, such was not the case with this year’s event.

    “It was pretty decent throughout,” says Hansen, who adds that the nine-day event is in place for that exact reason. “If we have some poor weather, we’ve got another week to make it up.”

    Show highlights included a Mustang display (as in other shows, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the vehicle), plus a muscle car display that featured a 1929 Packard 645 Roadster, 1950 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible, 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, 1958 Buick Convertible, 1968 Oldsmobile 442, and 1971 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler among others.

    Add an American Red Cross blood drive and the famously popular Kids Day, and it’s clear why the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show remains one of the region’s more successful events.

    Profile: Greater Milwaukee Auto Show

    Feb. 21-29, 2004

    Midwest Airlines Center

    Exhibit Space:
    300,000 square feet

    Adults $9, Children (7-12) $4 (under 6 free), Seniors (62 plus) $5

    Show Hours:
    Mon.-Thurs. 3 pm-9 pm; Fri. 1 pm-10 pm; Sat. 10 am-10 pm; Sun. 10 am-6 pm.

    Show Contact:
    Don Hansen, ATAE
    President, Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $3 off weekday adult admission at Web site or new car dealers; buy one, get one free on Milwaukee Journal Press Card days.

    Pittsburgh show benefits from larger venue

    Nearly triple the space.

    Maxi crowds came out for a peek at the MINI.

    It’s amazing what a new convention center will do for the business plan, in this case the Pittsburgh International Auto Show, which this past year moved into a second-phase David L. Lawrence Convention Center and its 340,000 square feet of space.

    For the Pittsburgh Automobile Trade Association (PATA), which organizes the show, that translates into bigger displays.

    And more concept vehicles.

    And more people flowing through the show floor.

    Attendance shot up 17 percent, but with the additional floor space, crowds had the space they needed to browse with every intention to buy a new vehicle.

    Which they subsequently did.

    Lorraine Tabish, public relations director for the PATA, says there was a definite upsurge in car buying activity just a week after the show.

    Back at the show, at least one car disappeared (a Chrysler Pacifica), thanks to Las Vegas illusionist Lawrence Gregory.

    “It was in my driveway when he got done with it,” quipped Tabish.

    Aside from the disappearing type of vehicle, show goers were able to view some 500 vehicles, a broad selection of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVS, plus concept vehicles from GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

    Boffo, the ‘World’s Strongest Clown,’ delighted kids at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show.

    Children were smiling at the show put on by third-time returning Buffo, billed as “the World’s Strongest Clown.” (The guy actually juggles bowling balls.)

    Pittsburgh Steeler celebrities, including Ike Taylor, Chukky Okobi, Mike Logan, Matt Cushing and Jeff Reed were also on hand.

    Nostalgia also reigned at the Pittsburgh show, with the “Kruizin Knights Car Cruise” that featured a 1964 Corvette, 1931 Ford Phaton, 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo, 1968 F-100 Ford pickup, 1956 Chevy Pro Street, 1970 Plymouth GTX, Mercury Turnpike Cruiser, 1930 Ford Coupe, Dodge Magnum GT, and a 1963 Comet Convertible.

    Marketing of the show included an increase in television advertising as well as radio and newspaper visibility, highlighted by the new convention center itself.

    “People were curious to see what it looked like,” says Lorraine Tabish.

    She also says the bigger venue bodes well for the future of the show.

    “The opportunity for a lot more exhibit space means the manufacturers will find it easier to send bigger exhibit kits for the show,” she says. “That means more concept vehicles as well. We see a great future ahead, making Pittsburgh one of the major shows in the country.”

    Profile: Pittsburgh International Auto Show

    Feb. 14-22, 2004

    David L. Lawrence Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    340,000 square feet

    $8 adults, children 6-16 $6; under 6 free

    Show Hours:
    Weekends, 11 am-10 pm; Monday, 11 am-9 pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 4 pm-9 pm; Sundays, 11 am-6 pm

    ATAE Contact:
    Dave Wagner, ATAE

    Show Web site:

    Discount Coupons:
    $2 off available at dealerships and Eat’n’Park Restaurants

    Appreciating the media in San Diego

    For media that cover the San Diego International Auto Show (SDIAS), the annual event that recognizes their efforts is quite likely more than icing on the cake—it’s the cake itself.

    Invitations for the appreciation day, which includes not only journalists but advertising representatives and media management, provides immeasurable benefits to the show, says Amy Foley, SDIAS director of public relations.

    “It’s really a significant way of demonstrating to our media partners how much we appreciate their efforts leading up to the show,” says Foley.

    But it also pays off when it comes time to negotiate advertising rates.

    “When we go into the office, we’re calling on them to give us substantially reduced rates,” says Foley, who also is responsible for the show’s media buy. “We do expect them to come to the plate with discounted rates and some extraordinary promotions in addition to the onsite reporting we get.”

    Mustang’s 40th birthday party included a stunning line-up of vintage models.

    This year’s April 15 appreciation day (with its “tax day” theme) was, as always, well attended. Previous events have had a different focus, such as the beach theme that featured a sand pit floor and outdoor cabana bar.

    But again, all that happens three months after the show itself, an event Dean Mansfield, president of the New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County, says went extremely well.

    “We had some excellent products and a strong showing of exhibitors,” says Mansfield. “Everything just worked.”

    Mansfield says San Diego show organizers are quick to capitalize on what they feel is one of the main reasons people will come to their event—the city itself.

    “It’s a terrific city,” says Mansfield. “Our on-the-water location and a superb climate makes this a wonderful place to visit. And we make that point when we talk to exhibitors who are going to want to spend some time here. San Diego is very clean. It’s a ‘come back’ city and an excellent place to do business.”

    Mansfield points to the historic area of San Diego, notably the Gas Lamp District, that includes the new home of the San Diego Padres - Petco Park - already nicknamed “Bark Park” after the pet supply retailer that bought naming rights.

    That proximity to the show’s own venue - the San Diego Convention Center - means auto show parking is no longer an issue since there’s now plenty of Bark Park parking during the January auto show.

    Downtown logistics were also improved with the San Diego trolley system, which makes it particularly easy to get to the show in the heart of the city from just about anywhere.

    Plus football fans who attended the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium December 30 were treated to discount coupons (the auto show began the following day).

    San Diego’s 525,000 square feet of exhibit space, up by 40,000 square feet from a year ago, makes it one of the larger shows in the nation.

    That space included a good selection of concept vehicles, including the Cadillac Cien, Chevrolet Cheyenne, Ford GT, Ford Mustang GT Convertible and the Ford SVT Lightning.

    Remember the ‘Mach 5’ from Speed Racer? A replica was featured at San Diego.

    Exotics also abounded, with a collection of supercars from Symbolic Motor Cars (including the 2003 Campagna T-Rex, 2004 Lotus Elise, 2004 Lamborghini Murcielago, 2004 Lamborghini Gallardo, 2004 Bentley Arnage T and 2004 Rolls-Royce Phantom).

    Other show highlights (depending on the age group, that is) included the Mach 5 from the Speed Racer cartoon series (voice over actor Peter Fernandez in attendance), as well as two specialty vehicles from the 2Fast 2Furious blockbuster movie.

    Displays also included a classic, muscle and exotic car exhibit from the San Diego Automotive Museum, which featured a 1902 Oldsmobile Curved Dash, 1946 Vincent John Surtees Replica, 1949 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, 1964 Porsche 356, and a 1950 Mercury Club Coupe.

    Profile: San Diego International Auto Show

    Dec. 31, 2003-Jan. 4, 2004

    San Diego Convention Center

    Exhibit Space:
    525,000 square feet

    Adults $10, Children (7-12) $5 (under 6 free), Seniors (62 plus) and Military $6

    Show Hours:
    Wed. 10 am-7 pm; Thurs.-Sat. 10 am-10 pm; Sun. 10 am-7 pm.

    Show Contact:
    Dean Mansfield, ATAE
    President, New Car Dealers Association of San Diego County

    Show Website:

    Discount Coupons:
    $2 off on Web site, at new car dealers; $2 off adult (with one paid) coupon at McDonald’s Restaurants (with $1 going to Ronald McDonald House Charities for every coupon redeemed).


    Automotive Trade Association Executives
    8400 Westpark Drive
    McLean, VA 22102
    703.556.8581 - fax

    Don McNeeley, ATAE President

    Jennifer Lindsey, ATAE Executive Director

    Rod Alberts, ASNA Chairman

    The Auto Show Report
    Joe Rohatynski, editor

    J.D. Booth, staff reporter

    Elizabeth Katz, staff reporter

    Auto Shows of North America Show Directory

    Albany Auto Show
    11/3/2017 - 11/5/2017

    New Mexico International Auto Show
    4/13/2018 - 4/15/2018

    Orange County Auto Show
    10/4/2018 - 10/7/2018

    Atlanta International Auto Show
    3/21/2018 - 3/25/2018

    Austin Auto Show
    4/20/2018 - 4/22/2018

    Motor Trend International Auto Show, Baltimore
    2/8/2018 - 2/11/2018

    Bedford, NH
    New Hampshire Auto Show
    11/18/2016 - 11/20/2016

    Bethlehem, PA
    Lehigh Valley Auto Show
    3/22/2018 - 3/25/2018

    Alabama International Auto Show
    4/12/2018 - 4/15/2018

    New England International Auto Show
    1/11/2018 - 1/15/2018

    Buffalo Auto Show
    2/8/2018 - 2/11/2018

    Calgary International Auto & Truck Show
    3/14/2018 - 3/18/2018

    West Virginia International Auto Show
    1/19/2018 - 1/21/2018

    Charlotte International Auto Show
    11/2/2017 - 11/5/2017

    Chicago Auto Show
    2/10/2018 - 2/19/2018

    Cincinnati Auto Expo
    2/7/2018 - 2/11/2018

    Cleveland Auto Show
    2/23/2018 - 3/4/2018

    Columbus International Auto Show
    3/15/2018 - 3/18/2018

    DFW Auto Show in Dallas
    2/14/2018 - 2/18/2018

    Dayton Auto Show
    2/22/2018 - 2/25/2018

    Denver Auto Show
    4/4/2018 - 4/8/2018

    North American International Auto Show
    1/20/2018 - 1/28/2018

    Edmonton Motor Show
    4/12/2018 - 4/15/2018

    Fort Worth
    DFW Auto Show in Fort Worth
    12/7/2017 - 12/10/2017

    South Carolina International Auto Show
    1/12/2018 - 1/14/2018

    Harrisburg, PA
    Pennsylvania Auto Show
    1/25/2018 - 1/28/2018

    Connecticut International Auto Show
    11/17/2017 - 11/19/2017

    First Hawaiian International Auto Show
    4/13/2018 - 4/15/2018

    Houston Auto Show
    4/5/2017 - 4/9/2017

    Indianapolis Auto Show
    12/26/2017 - 1/1/2018

    Kansas City
    Kansas City International Auto Show
    2/28/2018 - 3/4/2018

    Las Vegas
    Las Vegas International Auto Show
    11/24/2017 - 11/26/2017

    Los Angeles
    Los Angeles Auto Show
    12/1/2017 - 12/10/2017

    Louisville Auto Show
    1/19/2018 - 1/21/2018

    Miami International Auto Show
    9/9/2017 - 9/17/2017

    Greater Milwaukee International Auto Show
    2/24/2018 - 3/4/2018

    Minneapolis/St. Paul
    Twin Cities Auto Show
    3/10/2018 - 3/18/2018

    Montreal International Auto Show
    1/19/2018 - 1/28/2018

    New Orleans
    Greater New Orleans International Auto Show
    3/16/2018 - 3/18/2018

    New York
    New York International Auto Show
    3/30/2018 - 4/8/2018

    Oklahoma City
    Oklahoma City International Auto Show
    3/9/2018 - 3/11/2018

    Oklahoma City
    Oklahoma State Fair Auto Show
    9/14/2017 - 9/24/2017

    Midlands International Auto Show
    1/18/2018 - 1/21/2018

    Central Florida International Auto Show
    11/23/2017 - 11/26/2017

    Philadelphia International Auto Show
    1/27/2018 - 2/4/2018

    Arizona International Auto Show
    11/23/2017 - 11/26/2017

    Pittsburgh International Auto Show
    2/17/2017 - 2/20/2017

    Portland International Auto Show
    1/25/2018 - 1/28/2018

    Northeast International Auto Show
    2/9/2018 - 2/11/2018

    Virginia Motor Trend International Auto Show
    2/16/2018 - 2/18/2018

    Rochester International Auto Show
    3/1/2018 - 3/4/2018

    Sacramento International Auto Show
    10/20/2017 - 10/22/2017

    Saint Louis
    Saint Louis International Auto Show
    1/25/2018 - 1/28/2018

    Salt Lake City
    Utah International Auto Expo
    1/12/2018 - 1/15/2018

    San Antonio
    San Antonio Auto & Truck Show
    11/9/2017 - 11/12/2017

    San Diego
    San Diego International Auto Show
    12/28/2017 - 1/1/2018

    San Jose
    Silicon Valley International Auto Show
    1/4/2018 - 1/7/2018

    Seattle International Auto Show
    11/9/2017 - 11/12/2017

    Spokane International Auto Show
    2/9/2018 - 2/11/2018

    Tampa Bay International Auto Show
    11/17/2017 - 11/19/2017

    Greater Toledo Auto Show
    2/8/2018 - 2/11/2018

    Canadian International Auto Show
    2/16/2018 - 2/25/2018

    Tulsa Auto Show
    4/13/2018 - 4/15/2018

    Vancouver International Auto Show
    3/28/2018 - 4/1/2018

    Virginia Beach
    Hampton Roads International Auto Show
    1/12/2018 - 1/14/2018

    Washington Auto Show
    1/26/2018 - 2/4/2018