More than 800,000 people will squeeze through the doors at Detroit’s Cobo Hall over the next two weeks to get a glimpse at cool concepts and production cars at the 2001 North American International Auto Show, which opens to the public Jan. 13.
Many go to look at the latest vehicles with the intent of doing some research on what they'll buy or lease next. However, the largest portion will go to see cars and trucks that, as a rule, they'll never buy in a million years.
"I go to see the Lambos and Ferraris," said Jack Selzner, a college student from Sterling Heights, Mich. "It's as close as I'll get to ever driving or owning one of these things…unless I win the lottery!"
In addition to Selzner's beloved Lamborghinis and Ferraris, virtually every automaker, both foreign and domestic, have their new models on display as well as some vehicles that - for now - are works in progress.
The show, which is celebrating its 84th anniversary, encompasses nearly every bit of space in the 700,000 square-foot exhibition hall on two floors. More than 8000 members of the international automotive media will have canvassed the show floor the week prior to the public opening, whetting the appetites of public show-goers with stories about new products coming to them.
This is all heightened by a Supplier Preview day and finally a Charity Preview the night before the public opening. More than 17,000 people attend the black-tie event, paying $350 per ticket to drink champagne and get an early look at the vehicles. The show is expected to raise $5.25 million for 11 local charities.
The impact on the Detroit economy is enormous, according to David Littmann, chief economist at Comerica Bank. He estimates the show generates between $425 million and $500 million for the local economy.
On the floor
There are 67 total exhibits for show-goers to parade through. The displays will show 59 new vehicles, including 26 production vehicles and 33 concepts. Some of those include the new Ford Thunderbird, the Pontiac Vibe, Mazda's RX-8, Mitsubishi's RPM 7000 sport-utility vehicle and the return of an old name to the scene: the Mini Cooper.
The Mini, which is built by BMW, is the latest entry in the nostalgia trip of new/old vehicles, which includes the aforementioned T-Bird and Volkswagen Beetle. The Mini, which was first introduced in the 1960s, was made popular by the stars of the day that drove them, including Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr.
The new version is peppier (35 hp in the original compared to 125 hp in the new iteration) and slightly larger. The new Cooper comes in at a little more than $18,000. That's about $1500 more than a fully-equipped Dodge Neon.
The show runs from Jan. 13 - 21 and opens each day at 10 a.m. The doors close each day at 10 p.m., although no one will be admitted after 9 p.m. There is one exception: Sunday, Jan. 21 the show closes at 7 p.m. and no one gets in after 6 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens (65 or older). Children ages 12 and under are free when attending with an adult.
Parking is a tough ticket. It is available on the Cobo Roof, Garage and Arena Garage, as well as the Joe Louis Arena Garage, Ford Auditorium Garage and a slew of other nearby facilities. Prices for parking will vary. Additionally, the People Mover stops at Cobo Center: if you’re coming, the best move is to park well away from Cobo and pay the 50 cents to ride the mover. Also, many local restaurants offer shuttle service to and from the show for patrons.
For more information on the show, click to the NAIAS Web site at http://www.naias.com.
For all our coverage on Detroit 2001, click here.