San Francisco Chronicle 2016 SF International Auto Show: TLP Goes to the Big City
(In case you were wondering, the piece of paper on the windshield of the Bugatti in the title photo said, "2014 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse, $2,100,000")
So it was a mad dash down to San Francisco last Friday evening! TLP had VIP access to the San Francisco Chronicle's 58th Annual San Francisco International Auto Show, which will run till November 29th. If you've never been to a "new" car show, you might want to give it a try. It's basically wall to wall new model year cars, most of which you can sit in, slam the doors, kick the tires and in some cases even test drive, except sometimes its not (more on this later). An auto show can serve several purposes. For one, it can get the potential buyer closer to a car without the pressure of salesman and their pitches. Second, an auto show can showcase the exotic and bizarre in the automotive industry. Lastly, auto shows are a place where car makers disguise otherwise mundane commuter boxes with attempts at hip and cool lifestyle branding and promised features that don’t mean anything. They are places where you can claim to be an “influencer and connector” as part of your job description. Knowing this walking in the door will save you from lusting after the wrong ride.
They were all there (and then some). Every automaker you can think of was showing their 2016s to the public, and eager reps were available to answer questions and explain features of just about every car that will be on the American market but without the pushy marketing. As bona-fide media types, we got to see the cars and displays before the general public. The promoters provided food, drink and even live entertainment for all to enjoy as they strolled the seemingly endless subterranean acreage of the Moscone Center.
Aside from the exciting 2016 models on display, the event also featured displays from the Academy of Art University Classic Car Collection, an auto salon featuring lots of modifies cars, an array of classic and modern race cars and cars from the Ferrari Club of America, the Aston Martin Club and Dominator Street Rods. Again, a little something for everyone.
Everyone at the VIP event was able to climb into some pretty amazing cars from Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes, and even Maserati. There was one automaker that lived up to its reputation for being notsofun people who build really fun cars. Yes, Porsche had all their cars locked even down to the entry level Boxster model. It's probably because the cars sell themselves and they don’t need the masses, even us media masses getting our stank on those sweet alcantara interiors. Let’s be clear, we don’t know how many of the cars we were able to get into will be locked for the general public this week. We know for sure that the new Mercedes S600 Maybach will not be open for the general public as we overheard a Mercedes Rep say as much. It's probably for the best, as after sitting inside this luxury yacht you will be reminded instantly that you have failed as a human being.
If the upcoming 2016 model year could be reduced to a single theme, it is that we are reaching the point at which no further information can be given to the driver because they will not be able to comprehend it all. Most of the European automakers, including some domestics such as Cadillac are moving toward digital instrument clusters. They are beautiful, pleasant to look at and feel 100% natural for those that grew up with tablets and smartphones or us tech geeks in the the older (more mature) crowd. Nonetheless, these digital displays include far more information that most drivers will need to know, or be able to access. Coupled with these digital instruments are steering wheels with almost as many buttons and controls as a Formula 1 car. The Cadillac CST wheel has over 10 different controls! It feels like the ADD generation is firmly in control of product development.
Again, we don’t know of another place to look at the newest cars without pushy sales tactics and we're firm believers that you can have a whole lot less fun for a whole lot more money. Adult admission is only $10 and kids 12 and under are free with an adult admission. Moms and dads get to see the hottest and the latest cars and the kiddies get to climb around through and on top of SOMEBODY ELSE'S CARS! That's a pretty good deal if you ask us!