8 Odds and Ends at the New York Auto Show
Strange gearshift knobs, a lame Bugatti and a $400,000 Sprinter van.
By now, you've probably seen all the debuts from the 2012 New York International Auto Show. Here are some of our obscure observations and strange cars we found that shouldn't be missed.
Ignoring the Bugatti Veyron
Why is the world’s fastest and most powerful production car ever made stuck in a corner, with no one watching? It’s not because journalists get jaded by speed and power (they do). It’s Bugatti’s fault for making one of about a dozen special editions that all blend into the same car. But while this Veyron Blanc Noir, apparently made for a single customer two years ago, faces the wall in time-out, everyone else was drooling over the SRT Viper. Absolutely no one was in the way while I took the picture above. Go America!
Uncle Sam Does a Donk
There are always a few off-color rides tucked in the basement of the Javits Center. When I stumbled upon this low-riding, big-rimmed 1973 Impala, I thought it belonged to one of the show workers -- certainly not the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The agency uses the big Chevy, one of the first cars to feature an airbag, to promote its crash-test website at shows and shopping malls. It’s even modern, with headrests, three-point seatbelts, disc brakes and fuel injection. There are nice, friendly U.S. government plates and no door handles.
Kizashi Taste Test
Suzuki is better known for its ATVs and fast bikes. But the company does make cars, and to prove it, they’ve glued steering wheels, doors panels and various interior trim pieces on a white backboard, science fair-style. Unmarked bits from Mercedes and Audi models are mixed in with those from the Kizashi sedan, and if you don’t know any of these cars, it’s a very good game. And yes, the Suzuki parts are pretty darn good.
Tantric and Tricky Knobs
Rihanna’s core values, sadism and masochism, weren’t on my mind until I felt the studded gearshift knob in a Chrysler 300. I’m not sure what else men’s clothing designer John Varvatos had in mind here with this black-on-black sedan.
The knob in the Scion FR-S was a shifty one, in the sense that it tricked me into believing it was a manual.
Matte paint is steadily becoming the new LED accent lighting. I counted 10 cars at the show with dull finishes, including a stunning blue Audi R8 GT Spyder and the sexy AMG-like Hyundai Veloster Turbo, above.
Locked For Your Safety
On media days, nearly every car not on a high turntable is open for seating. Not so the 2013 Lincoln MKZ, the car that’s supposed to transform Lincoln’s entire image, nor the 2013 Ford Fusion, which had a sticker warning against dangerous interiors. The Dodge Darts were also hands-off.
Old Range Fits Right In
This pristine 1987 Range Rover was the first model year that the famous luxury SUV rolled into America and forever changed suburban parking lots. It’s now 25 years old and just as distinguishable. Earlier in the week, Land Rover drove it through a makeshift off-road course, which the automaker created by pouring 50 trucks worth of dirt onto a Manhattan parking lot.
The $400,000 Conversion Van
Conversion vans, at least those based on GM products, compete in a slim market these days. But apparently not so for the Becker JetVan, a $400,000 Mercedes Sprinter built to private-jet specifications. I got yelled at for trying to close the window blinds – they’re powered, as is nearly everything on this rig (the maple tray tables you actually have to pull out yourself -- my word). Noise insulation from private jets, leather from private jets and big TVs from private jets are all included. (As I’ve never been on a private jet, so I’ll take company President Howard Becker at his word).
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