From the 2011 Los Angeles International Auto Show

A Candy Store for Cars

For people who are always looking for their next car, even if it’s only a fantasy, there’s no better place to window shop than an Auto Show. The one they call The Los Angeles International Auto Show has to compete for manufacturers’ attention with the Detriot Show (They call it the North American International Auto Show), which has a sort of Home Field Advantage, but they do pretty well.

The Gang’s All Here – Almost

The only holdouts now seem to be the exotics like Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati but some of those have back-orders, so there’s no point in increasing demand. Of course, that’s assuming someone with a quarter of a million dollars or more in spare cash would even attend such a working class event.

At least Porsche introduced their important new 911 here (along with a track-capable version of their 4-door Panamera, the GTS). They skipped Detroit last year.

New Porsche 911

Porsche “introduced” its new 911 (already been shown at Geneva and Laguna Seca, but that’s quibbling), the brand’s anchor product. Can’t tell what’s different? That’s good! Porsche drivers are fiercely loyal, but they do not take kindly to any hint that the shape of their most revered model might be messed with.

Just Beautiful

Aston Martins 1

Exotic car makers have abandoned the LA Auto Show in recent years, but Galpin Motors in Van Nuys has a tradition of supporting performance cars, and they have jumped into the void by presenting examples from their Aston Martin showroom. These cars continue a long tradition of beautiful Aston Martin bodywork, including – in the background – the extremely rare  One-77. The “77” indicates the production number. Only 77 examples were planned.

Bentley Continental GTC

Bentleys are now recognized by demographics that wouldn’t have had a clue back in the fifties that the original Continental was the fastest four-seater you could buy, or that they won Le Mans outright five times back in the day. Muscular elegance is how I describe today’s Bentleys. This is the Continental GTC.

SLS AMG Gullwing in BRG/Biscuit

I couldn’t resist posting a pic of this SLS AMG Mercedes-Benz Gullwing in odd (for a German car) but attractive British Racing Green over Biscuit Leather.

The Affordables

Italian Cuisine

I’ve mentioned before that Rudy the BMW 328iC’s lease is up this coming August. Unless BMW Financial Services suffers a bout of Brain Freeze about that time and lowers their asking price, I probably won’t be in a position to buy it. One possible replacement introduced at the Show had me calling my bud Ephraim for intervention.

I wrote recently about not ignoring the flavor when chosing your car. Among the Green Car Drives was a Fiat 500, and while no hot rod, it has flavor aplenty. I’d forgotten the joys of rowing through nicely spaced gears with a precise manual shifter.

I do detect one taste note that may supress sales among the macho male crowd – a certain cuteness that may translate into the epithet “chick car.” But the car they introduced yesterday will go a long way toward erasing that stigma.

Fiat 500 Abarth

In the ’50s and ’60s, Carlo Abarth took the minimalist Fiat Cinquicento and transformed it into a class-winning sports car. Now the name’s associated with a hotter version of the new 500, with horsepower up by 60% and torque by 70%. With less weight to accelerate, that should make it a solid competitor to the Mini Cooper S. If you can get past the hard plastics on the door panels it’s a really tempting Italian dish!