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View 2008 NAIAS Gallery (Updated Frequently)

Story by Jack Baruth; photos by Zerin Dube and Carl Modesette

Day One of the NAIAS, which is called the “Detroit Show” by pretty much everybody in the free world, because NAIAS sounds like something one would discuss with one’s proctologist behind closed doors… there was a distinct odor on the street. Was it the sharp tang of fifty-pound dumps taken by the herd of very expensive-looking cattle herded down Jefferson Avenue to introduce the Dodge Ram? Was it the acrid whiff of a heart-stopping “pyrotechnic” at Ford’s F-150 unveiling? Perhaps it was the reek of terror as Toby Keith bumbled his way through TelePrompter lines clearly written by a Phantom Menace-era George Lucas: “I am a platinum artist. I make platinum records. Is there a play-ti-numm truck out thair for me?”

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Regrettably, it was none of the above. The odor was the odor of despair. With the exception of Kid Rock’s outrageous rockin’ redneck presentation of the new ZR1 (no hyphen, presumably to cut costs) at the GM Style event, the automakers at the NAISIASSS appeared to be struggling to each create the most feeble, enviro-centric, self-ashamed presentation for the assembled disrespectable media. Each press conference contained a mandatory bowing before the secular gods of climate change and sustainability. Bill Ford announced, apparently without irony, that he had appointed a “vice president of sustainability” and that he was consulting “thought leaders in the world’s industries”. If one includes the world’s oldest profession in the world’s industries, presumably super-pimp Dennis Hof of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch is now advising Mr. Ford. It would certainly explain the Platinum edition of the F-150, were that the case. We suspect that the “thought leaders” are the usual douchebag bookwriters and Tom-Cruise-in-Magnolia leadership consultants, all of whom could most benefit the environment by swinging from the nearest tree tomorrow and ceasing their exhalation of planet-killing carbon dioxide. Think of the extra ice the polar bears would have if Barbra Streisand stopped talking.

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Back to cars. Audi rolled out a diesel V12 R8. The existence of this car was revealed to Dubspeed Driven during our R8 test thrash at Infineon, but we promised Audi we wouldn’t talk, and our loyalty to them outweighs our loyalty to you, the reader, primarily because Audi has free R8s to test drive and, as far as we can tell, you’re driving a ’91 Accord. The R8 V12 TDI has very big spoilers. The one in back looks like the spoiler that Pontiac inflicted upon the previous generation of Grand Am. Except it moves.

Volkswagen introduced the sleek CLS-lite Passat CC. It’s not entirely certain what “CC” means. It may be a tribute to the lead guitarist for Poison, who recently died while masturbating while viewing websites like Tubev Free Sex videos. (Note: Since we are at the auto show and away from our fact-checking department, we cannot guarantee that the previous sentence is in any way true.) Perhaps “CC” stands for “Cheaper Cls.” In which case it should really be CCLS, but that sounds like the ass disease you would get after your case of NAIAS had gone too far to be cured by conventional methods. CC it is.

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Lexus showed their LF-A convertible, which is scheduled to arrive in the United States any decade now. Nissan showed the GT-R, which primarily attracted hordes of body-odor-challenged Asian photographers, who apparently flew five thousand miles to photograph a car which is available to photograph down the street from where they live. Hey, maybe we could fix “climate change” by keeping the Asian media at home. And while they’re at it, they could also deport the outrageously shoddy-looking Chinese copy of a London taxi parked in the entry hall. You see, Cobo had too much pride to let the Chinese in the actual show. Oh, they’ll take the Chinese manufacturers’ money, but they’re insistent that Long Dong Design and Chicken Beheading Factory Auto Company Excellency has to stay out in the hall. Of course, no Chinese company is actually called “Long Dong”. That doesn’t even make any sense in Chinese. The company is really called Hung Dong Low.

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Across the hall from the Hung Dong Low stand, we saw the new Honda Pilot “concept”. Well, if this is a “concept”, then I dropped two “concepts” into the Best Western’s porcelain Concept Receptacle this morning. Oh boy, it’s ugly. Luckily for us, Honda always makes major changes to their “concept cars”, such as adding a license plate bracket. Hope that’s one bad-ass looking bracket. Other Japanese cars of no interest whatsover included the new Hyundai Genesis sedan, which is not Japanese but closely resembles the Lexus LS400 of 1990. This is something which should get Toyota angry. The nerve of those Hyundai people, copying the LS400, which was a letter-perfect copy of the Mercedes W126! If Mercedes-Benz weren’t so busy having Kim Cattrall grind on Dr. Z during their press conferences, we bet they would have something to say about this as well, probably along the lines of, “Please, hurry up and copy the Maybach so we have a plausible reason for euthanising the brand.”

One serious piece of environmental news, and one which came as a genuine surprise to pretty much everybody, was GM’s announcement that they have entered into a partnership agreement with a cellulosic-ethanol company which expects to deliver ethanol for under a dollar a gallon in the near future. “The plant will be ready by 2011,” said the executives in GM’s press release, “and that includes the two years needed to build the plant.” While it will only produce fifty to one hundred million gallons of ethanol, the new cellulosic ethanol process, which has been certified by the Argonne National Laboratories to be more than seven times as efficient as the current corn-based ethanol sources, is big news. Plainly stated, it means that the future of performance automobiles in this country may be indefinite. Sure, there’s plenty of room for fuel-cell misery-wagons and electric rolling vibro-dongs like the Volt, but real enthusiasts want their hybrids to burn fuel and rubber. The prospect of CO2-neutral ethanol-fuelled Corvettes gave us a reason to smile today amid all the “sustainability” po’-mouthing.

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One arrival at the NAYASTYASS which utterly failed to impress: the new BMW X6. Has there ever been a more cynical statement of automotive worthlessness? It’s a five-liter jacked-up sedan. It handles worse than a BMW sedan, sucks more fuel, blocks more view, weighs more, looks even more like a dog’s butt… but now you can sit higher in traffic! Gee, thanks. Thankfully, BMW’s concurrent announcement that the M3 sedan will sell for less than fifty-five thousand dollars did a lot to restore our faith in the men who built the engine for the Focke-Wulf 190.

A full day of intrepid effort of our staff photographers means we have more than nine galleries to show you tonight. We’ll be at the show tomorrow as well, elbowing the little people aside to bring you the very best from The Show We All Call The Detroit Show, Yo.

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Jack Baruth

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