The 2010 L.A. Auto Show – Life In the Fast Lane

Jennifer Stern December 22, 2010 No Comments

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There are few things in the world that Angelenos love as much as their Starbucks, their cellphones, and their celebrities. Cars are one of those things.

L.A. Auto Show

L.A. Auto Show

As anyone who has ever spent any amount of time living in the City of Angels can tell you, Los Angeles residents are probably so passionate about their vehicles because they truly are our homes-away-from-home. Many of us spend more time in them, sitting in traffic on the freeways, winding up canyon roads, or cruising along the coast, than we do at our actual places of residence. We talk, text, eat, put on makeup, shave, and read in our autos–and of course we always want the place where we “live” to look its best, so we drop big bucks on car washes, accessories, and detailing.

LA Auto Show Kia Model

Will checks out the interior of a new Kia model

It’s little wonder, then, that the L.A. Auto Show, which ran from Nov. 20-28 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (1201 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles), packed in car enthusiasts in record numbers. Since my three boys have all been absolutely crazy about anything with four wheels since they were old enough to push a toy car (in fact, “car” was the first word for all of them), it was a no-brainer that we would make the trip downtown to check out not only the newest and the latest models, but lots of classics and interactive displays as well.

The youngest car enthusiasts (ages 12 and under), including my son Will, had a blast in the Kids’ Fun Zone, sponsored by the Nissan Quest. There were three bounce houses (one an obstacle course) to play on, face painting, arts and crafts, games, and other educational activities. There was also a Dodge Kids’ Race Course, a scaled-down racetrack featuring electric Power Wheels vehicles that traveled at a very low rate of speed (the better to calm nervous parents).

Where Will wanted to spend the bulk of his time, however, was inside the Game Truck, a towable trailer chock-full of video games. Featuring multiple video screens and dozens of game controllers, the truck could accommodate approximately a dozen young gamers at a time, and quite simply, was THE hit of the show for my young man.

Kids Fun Zone - Nissan Quest

The Nissan Quest Kids Fun Zone featured bounce houses and video games

Fun for the younger set was strictly NOT limited to the Fun Zone, as opportunities for kids to have a good time abounded in every hall of the cavernous Convention Center. At the sprawling Ford exhibit, kids were given a “passport” with directions to various interactive activities both inside and outside; when they received a minimum of four stamps on their passport, they were instructed to go back up to the desk and claim a prize (a drawstring backpack with, of course, the Ford logo on it).

The activities indoors included slot-car racing, watching short 3-D movies, and video-game type exhibits where kids could use their bodies as “controllers” to drive cars. Once we had tried all of these out, we headed outside to see what was there. Since it was a cold and windy day (by L.A. standards, anyhow), there weren’t too many people braving the outdoor activities–so no lines!

Outdoors Will tried his hand at a rock-climbing wall, and was harnessed to a Ford truck exhibit to see how much weight he could “tow.” There was also a demonstration track with a see-saw like bridge and a dirt “rough road” area. My husband, Will and I were invited to take a test drive on the track to see how the new Ford SUV handled itself. It was a brief, but fun ride.

LA Auto Show Ford Exhibit Rock Climbing

Will clings to the rock-climbing wall at the Ford outdoor exhibit

We headed back indoors to get warm and to check out the ultra-cool Mini Cooper exhibit area (given a “veddy British” feel by the inclusion of several of those bright-red unmistakably English telephone booths). Then it was on to the Kia exhibit, where we checked out some very stylish new models–I particularly liked the white Kia Soul with a snazzy red-and-black leather interior, which of course would have been completely impractical for our family of five.

Speaking of our family of five, I have spent so many years driving a totally unsexy Pontiac minivan that I gave ALL minivans on display a very wide berth. Instead, I gravitated toward the sleek and shiny SUVs including the GMC Acadia, the Ford Explorer, and the Toyota Highlander.

My favorite area of all, however, had to be Petree Hall, which housed the Porsche exhibit. I absolutely fell in love with the first display on the way into the hall–the first Porsche ever sold in the United States, a 1957 robin’s-egg blue convertible with whitewall tires so skinny they looked almost as if they belonged on a bicycle.

Porsche Exhibit Los Angeles Auto Show

The first Porsche ever sold in the United States

Once inside, my 12-year-old son Ben and I had great fun hopping behind the wheel of numerous Porsches, each more sleek, fast and sexy than the next. These lovely Italian numbers included the debuts of the 911 Carrera GTS, the 911 Speedster, the Cayman R, and two hybrid vehicles–the 911 GT3 Hybrid and the Cayenne S hybrid. I felt quite at home mugging for photos with one hand on the leather-wrapped steering wheel and my forearm resting on the open window of the Carrera, and imagined the wind whipping through my hair as I piloted my hot new ride down the freeways of L.A.

Unfortunately, there was a line of people outside with the same idea, so I had to come back to reality–and reluctantly give up the driver’s seat. Sheepishly, I emerged from the car’s luxe interior, hoping that a few of the pictures had come out well.

After a quick lunch at one of the vendors sellling pizza, burgers and sandwiches, we headed on to Concourse Hall. This was where the uber-luxury vehicles produced by the likes of Lotus, Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce were on display, which had us all oooohing and aaaahing.

NASCAR driver Sam Hornish Jr.'s car

Ben in front of NASCAR driver Sam Hornish Jr.’s car

My two older sons, both big NASCAR racing fans, were completely enthralled when they got the opportunity to take photos in front of NASCAR driver Sam Hornish Jr.’s racing vehicle, the #77 AAA car. They also got a big kick out of seeing “Black Beauty,” the machine-gun-turreted armored auto recently featured in the superhero movie “The Green Hornet.”

We ended our day with some coffee, ice cream, and of course, one more trip to the Kid’s Fun Zone, while the boys chattered excitedly about all the cars they’d seen, sat in and taken pictures of. I don’t know if it’s in the DNA, but I would have to say that boys and cars are definitely a good match, and our day at the Auto Show was money well spent. We will absolutely come back next year.

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avatarAbout the Author:

Jennifer Stern is a mom of three teen boys, who provide her with constant inspiration to write. She is also a fitness professional/junkie who teaches everything from Spinning to Zumba. A New Jersey native, this is her second time living in Southern California. She loves the L.A. lifestyle, but does miss eating decent pizza and bagels--so she consoles herself with excellent Mexican food. She and her family live in Burbank.

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