Metro Times NAIAS Journals
Swag-hungry journos descend on an unsuspecting Cobo Hall for the 25th annual North American International Auto Show.
Published: January 22, 2014
12:12 p.m. — Of all the American manufacturers, Cadillac really strikes our fancy at this show. Their previously unveiled Elmiraj Concept is simply awe-inspiring in person. And if that dictates the direction Caddy is taking, then sign us up for a big-ass sedan. Just as soon as Free Credit Report gives us better news.
12:27 p.m. — Annnd there’s a Jersey Shore-lookin’ dude hitting on the model in front of the Elmiraj setup at Cadillac. She uses the display’s circling feature to escape him, much like Ron Swanson swiveling in his circle desk.
12:53 p.m. — Other than Caddy, the U.S. nameplates don’t really move our needle. We’re suckers for good design (and pay close attention to good styling), and the local boys, while doing much better compared to the past two decades, pale in comparison to their Asian and European counterparts. Sure, the new Corvette is pretty boss, but when it sits next to a beautifully designed Aston Martin, Jaguar or even a Nissan GT-R, it looks downright silly. Unrefined. Brutish. And, well, it’s American, so it’s exactly that.
1:02 p.m. — There are approximately 37 senior citizens accidentally taking photos of their faces instead of the cars at any given moment.
1:20 p.m. — The product specialists (aka another era’s car show models, aka an even earlier era’s booth babes) are cute, friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the cars, but they freak out a little when we pop up in front of them waving a recorder and asking questions about what goes on behind the scenes. (It’s a bad habit of ours.) “We’re not allowed to be recorded or quoted by the press,” says Nick, one of two Ford product specialists. While never breaking his smile or friendly tone, he and his female counterpart make eye contact in a way that suggests they are expecting to have to deflect some crazy shit and at least two dozen requests for their phone numbers or Snapchat user names.
Deciding we need to disarm them, we ditch the recorder and instead compliment their cool leather jackets. While the other booths’ specialists go for a business or formal look, Ford’s specialists are decked out in jeans, T-shirts and leather jackets. A little more than a couple decades ago, the typical car model attire was sparkly and skimpy, and males were unheard of, so it’s interesting to consider the performance.
Dalia, his partner, explains that Ford typically goes with a more rugged feel for company branding, and it shows in the booth’s garage-like neon signs and working assembly line robot display. That said, we’re not fooled: These two look a little too pretty to be greasers.
1:25 p.m. — It’s fucking hot. Holy hell, do we wish we did that coat check thing.
1:27 p.m. — We start thinking — what the heck are the auto show product specialists, anyway? Are they models? Are they actors? Are they car salesmen? Some sort of combination of all of the above? Dalia explains that they go through months of training starting in September, learning everything about the new models before embarking on an auto show circuit on which Detroit is just another stop — and the most scenic, for sure. It’s a busy season, but they get to travel around the world. Nick and Dalia have been doing it for years.
“Ford actually has the most extensive training out of all the companies,” Dalia adds, explaining how it’s necessary, since the specialists will spend the show standing next to the cars on rotating platforms, showing off their features and fielding questions from the nerdiest of car nerds, that proper balance is learned.
Now that we have successfully brought them at ease with our disarming charm and wit, the two start talking more freely. “We actually get asked about it all the time,” Nick admits. “I think a lot of kids want to know about other ways of being involved in the auto industry without being, say, an engineer.” Yes, that is what kids dream of: standing on rotating platforms in high heels.
1:35 p.m. — Clowns would be impressed by how many auto engineers are crammed into this Taurus right now.
1:39 p.m. — Whoa! We honestly think for a minute that the 1962 Ford Mustang 1 concept on display is the new Mustang. A little sheepish, we mumble something about how the ’60s were such a futuristic decade.
1:42 p.m. — Porsches: They’re still fucking ugly. You can buy a bunch of Porsche shit (sunglasses, key chains) from a dude who admits that people buy it to dupe people into believing they own a Porsche. Rachel, a Porsche rep, says that, no, she won’t exchange one for a ’91 Toyota Corolla. (Didn’t want the fucking thing anyway.)
1:51 p.m. — Ford has two benches surrounded by phone chargers. The benches are emblazoned with this Henry Ford quote: “The only true test of values is our ability to make the world a better place.”
Unfortunately, that’s not the actual real quote. From the Henry Ford museum’s website: “The only true test of values, either of men or of things, is that of their ability to make the world a better place in which to live.” Close enough, though, which is all you can ask for from a carmaker.
2 p.m. — The show’s continued focus on big-ass trucks is lost on us. Sure, fuel prices are lower than they’ve been in recent memory, but our Detroit companies insist on shoving these beasts down our throats. I have many friends who would love a new truck to haul around equipment, but don’t require the size and horsepower these mammoths offer. Where are the smaller trucks for fuel economy and light duty? (Yes, we said “duty.”)
2:03 p.m. — Only douche bag surfers would drive the awful truck at the Mopar display. Also, why are they selling fucking gumballs?
2:11 p.m. — We’re following a single man taking photos of everything, hoping upon hope to find a car honk detailing everything he sees for a personal blog or the most boring Instagram page of all time. Nope. “I’m an engineer for Toyota.”
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