2005 New York Show: Top Picks

March 25, 2005

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2005 New York Auto Show, Part II by TCC Team (3/22/2005)
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Best New Concept: Over-the-top seems to be the best way to describe the show cars that showed up in the Big Apple this year, including the edgy and angular Nissan Sport Concept and edgy but boxy Scion t2b, with its tickertape-style instrument panel. Though both are targeted to an entirely new generation of buyer, this aging Baby Boomer found both equally intriguing.

Best New Production Car: With an octogenarian Carroll Shelby standing at its side, with a huge smile spread across his weather-beaten face, how can we not fall in love with the Shelby Cobra GT500. Sure, we’d have liked an independent rear suspension, but everything tells us this SVT edition will be the year’s hot performance ticket.

2006 Cadillac BLS

2006 Cadillac BLS

Enlarge Photo
2006 Cadillac BLS

2006 Cadillac BLS

Enlarge Photo
Most Significant Production Vehicle: The Lexus GS450h is, to me, the car most likely to have a long-term impact. This hybrid-electric vehicle is no Prius. In the words of retiring Lexus general manager Denny Clements, it’s “pure performance.” It’ll purportedly get better mileage than a V-6, but it will give performance topping the V-8-powered GS430. And if consumers buy into the concept, Lexus will launch an all-new brand-within-a-brand of performance hybrids, a sort of “green” AMG.

Biggest News Story: It’s back to GM again. The giant automaker just can’t connect with consumers, and company officials were in NY trying to explain why, at times blaming journos for their import bias. With CEO Wagoner predicting huge losses and Lutz admitting the possibility of closing divisions, the biggest question of the NY show was, “What went wrong?”

Best Press Conference: I really found the Dodge Charger news conference, with its fake newscast and even sillier Irish NY cop, pretty lame. Until they handcuffed Chrysler Group PR chief Jason Vines, that is. We offered $20 to Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche to lose the key. No luck. Honorable mention to Volvo for bringing Sir Richard Branson out in a spacesuit to announce the winner of a ticket to space on his Virgin Galactic rocket ship.

Worst Press Conference: The Donald meets the Bob. We’re not exactly sure what General Motors had in mind in this ineffective little event. Was it meant to prop up Trump’s already huge ego or salve the battered Bob Lutz, who was having a bad time at the show, what with his comments about possibly closing one of GM’s “damaged” divisions? Either way, it didn’t seem intended to actually promote the products the automaker had brought to NY, notably the super-performance Cadillac XLR-V. Oh, and a Dishonorable Mention to a man with a Trump-size ego and zero regard for anyone else, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who showed up 45 minutes late for the event revealing his line of designer wheels. A big traffic jam? No, admitted a frustrated flack, “because he can.”

Who’s On Top: Chrysler was supposed to be grist for Toyota’s mill, as the Japanese automaker quickly gained share in the U.S. market, assuming the role of America’s number-three carmaker. It’s obvious Chrysler won’t roll over that quickly. But Toyota’s got a new target: toppling General Motors as the world’s largest automaker.

Who’s In The Barrel: It was a bad week, on top of a bad month, for General Motors. But this particular dubious achievement award has to go to vice chairman Bob Lutz for his unusually poor performance under fire. Lutz’s comments about possibly closing one or more divisions were topped by his unproductive decision to take on the media, blaming hapless scribes for GM’s worsening market share and weakening financial position.

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