[Late] Car Thoughts: The LA Auto Show Has Become a Car Lot

Wow, this is a late post. I’ve been so busy with revamping this site and other stuff that I forgot to publish this one. Oops. I’m awarding myself the Least-Relevant-Post-of-2019 Award for this one.

Let’s continue.

One of society’s greatest achievements in the 21st century was coming up with an pejorative that is totally utterly completely and without question gender-ethnic neutral where you can sling it without being accused of being an “~ist.” That term is: “Basic.” And basic is the best way to describe the 2018 Los Angeles International Auto Show.

It used to be that the show had substance. Every automaker showcased at least one new (or touring) concept. There would be cars from film and television. There would be factory spreads of exotics and hypercars. Those days seem to be over with the halls now simply full of Escalades for fans of reality television and Clear Channel FM radio stations to sit in and turn the volume all the way up on Power 106. I’m sure Escalades are very nice by the way…for airport transfers for your boss. But you can just waste a salesman’s time on a car lot doing the exact same thing.

Back in the early 2000’s and before, you could go to the auto show and see an astonishing number of concepts and pre-production vehicles. One year Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth brought what seemed liked dozens.

Before I continue, please forgive what appears to be bad quality of the photos, I’m actually pretty surprised myself. These were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 950, what was considered at the time to be a groundbreaking digital camera and the first consumer digital camera to rival film. I guess you could say it rivaled disposable film cameras, but that isn’t saying much, so while cameras (and my skill) have gotten better over the course of the past two decades, the quality of concept car showcased at the LA Auto Show has not.

This year though automakers were putting anything but concepts on their platforms, behind ropes, or on turntables. The niftiest thing in the Galpin hall of customs was an old ford Van that belonged to Jeff Dunham, and I don’t know what Dodge was thinking when they brought out this Santa Claus Dodge Challenger sleigh thing. That was the best they could do? Come on Dodge! You used to festoon the show floor with concepts!! (see above).

Just two years ago Cadillac had the stunning Escala concept on its turntable, this year (same turntable), there was some eco midsize vowel/consonant TS thing that was utterly boring as a featured vehicle on the same turn table (I find that automakers usually only update their staging every three years or so, which isn’t a big deal). I didn’t even bother to take a picture.

Remember this?

Yeah, the best Kia could muster was to put a bunch of production spec Souls behind barriers on their main stage, and this was the secondary feature:

Well, okay, those leather straps are super hipster and with a little time in the sun and some tanning, might match my Belstaff messenger bag, but at least let us inside Kia!

Ford had completely revised their display for this year, which was nice, but I couldn’t find anything to suggest that they were putting any effort into alternative fuel/energy vehicles anymore. They just wanted to market the return of the Ford Ranger. To be fair, the Ranger has been sorely missed…but all the Rangers on the floor were locked and you couldn’t get into any of them, so who cares? I didn’t. So here’s a picture of another Ford I couldn’t get into that has been out for a couple of years:

I wound up spending a good chunk of my time in the Land Rover owner’s lounge were they had free empanadas, a barber, massages, and cupcakes, all of which struck me as super random things to offer Land Rover owners. But speaking of concepts, Land Rover didn’t even have the new Range Rover Evoque on display, instead reserving the behind-barriers display for the Discovery 4, a vehicle that has been out for a couple of years.

Also, while not in the Land Rover booth per se, the cheaply modified Range Rover Sport from the short lived Hulu series The First was on display, and respect to Land Rover, this wasn’t a replica made to tour the auto show circuit, it was the actual vehicle. And it needed some TLC. Sadly, with the show being canceled, who knows what will happen to this picture vehicle now?

Of course, this isn’t to say that it was all bad. Jaguar had their new F Pace EV which is phenomenal and they were even offering test drives…which I took, and I think it’s an incredibly important vehicle and I highly recommending checking them out if you have $80,000 to spend…which you do if you’re looking and viable EV’s since a well equipped Tesla Model S or X is going to set you back $100,000.

I didn’t take any pictures of it, because I was driving it. Jaguar’s booth was also mobbed by people looking at the F Pace making it impossible to get a decent picture.

It’s also worth noting that Audi made incredible use of the colors red, black, and white in their space. Even if I’m not a fan of Audi styling, handling, and ergonomics, I have to hand it to their marketers. Things were very well done.

I hardly took any pictures because there wasn’t really much to see at the show, and so car industry, from me to you: Please start making concepts again. They’re awesome and aspirational, not basic, like Escalades.

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