For anyone who is obsessed with cars, or just has a passing interest in them, attending a major car convention is a must. The sheer scope of them is amazing; everything from supercars to brand new econoboxes can be in the same space, just waiting to be gawked at. So when the Atlanta International Auto Show came around, along with free tickets from a real automotive journalist friend of ours, with lodgings provided by relatives, It was shaping up to be a pretty fantastic spring vacation.
We began our day by meeting an old family friend, Nick Palermo. Nick is a freelance automotive journalist, and regularly writes for Autotrader.com and other important publications. He even had a piece in the show’s brochure.
When we first arrived at the building, we were slightly confused. The mere bigness of the place boggled my mind. We were in a massive hallway, with beautiful old and new cars lining each wall. I would have spent an hour staring at each and every shiny masterpiece, if Nick had not informed us of the importance of the tickets. “This is just the entrance hall,” he said. “In there is the showroom, where all the cars really are.” Considering that the entrance hall show was just as big as anything we have on Main Street, I could not imagine what kind of glorious space the showroom was.
Immediately after I walked through the gate onto the showroom floor, I had to stop to catch my breath. This place was truly the acme of my automotive fantasies. Tons of manufacturers had stands strewn about the floor, with concepts, supercars, and new vehicles vying to draw more salivating spectators to themselves. Every manufacturer had at least one particularly interesting car. Mazda brought its Skyactive race car, Nissan showed off the GTR Nismo, Lexus had a LFA (which I never liked in pictures, but in person it’s actually pretty awesome), Ford had the new F-150 and Mustang, and so on.
In addition to the standard slew of new cars, special exhibits showed off certain aspects of automotive culture as well. There was a “Then And Now” exhibit showcasing the same or similar models across several generations, and supercar exhibit that had a half-dozen supercars ranging from a Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 to a Lotus Evora. Camp Jeep used its large outdoor obstacle course to show off various Jeep models’ offroading abilities.
If you have never been to a large car show before, I highly recommend bringing somebody who actually knows where everything is and what the highlights are. Nick Palermo had attended the show on Wednesday with the Journalist-Only crowd, and thereby knew where to go, what to skip, and all the little details that make each car especially cool. Because of him, we were able to whip around and see everything worth seeing before our families got too hungry.
Year after year these shows come around, and up to this point I had never really realized what I was missing. But no more; now I can use this experience as an excuse to visit as many shows as possible, whenever I can. Now I can scratch Auto Show off my automotive bucket list, and do so again and again every year for the forseeable future.