Click for Larger ImageView 2009 Detroit Auto Show High-Resolution Photo GalleryStory by Jack Baruth and Carl Modesette; photos by Zerin Dube, Carl Modesette, and Dave Everest
Oh, what we wouldn’t give to return to the fashionable ennui of last year’s Detroit Auto Show! Back in those oh-so-innocent days, the floor was crowded, the giveaways flowed like water, and no manufacturer could foresee any problem worse than perhaps falling back a place in their particular front of the never-to-end horsepower wars. We didn’t know the “Carpocalypse” was coming, didn’t know that car sales would crater the way they have, couldn’t begin to guess that within a year the domestics would be on their knees while Toyota and Honda experienced thirty-percent-plus volume drops. Oh well. That was then, this is now.
The floor traffic was way down at Detroit this year, even if the increasing numbers of obnoxious soap-averse Eurotrash with monstrous rolling-tripod HD video cameras made the press previews feel a little… close at times. What’s the point of using a twenty-grand rig to film three days of a show, knowing that you’ll be boiling it down to a press-pass-contract-specified maximum five minutes of 320×240 Flash video? This was the worst-smelling NAIAS in history; the mulchy aroma of the “eco-drive” basement area mixed with the sweat-soaked polyester tops of the foreign press to create an aroma best described as “paint-peeling”. Some of these dudes really should have been thrown in the ol’ Silkwood shower.
Still, there were times when, comfortably seated in the fixed buckets of a matte-blue Murcielago or relaxing with Audi-branded chocolate squares in a manufacturer lounge, it was possible to obtain a little perspective on the show. Forget the economy, the drama, the naked pleas for government assistance, and the relentless howl of anguished prima donna front-row photographers. It’s still a show about cars, which means we’re going to name the Rockers, Suckers, and Snoozers of the 2009 North American International Auto Show.