The San Francisco Auto Show turned 50 this year and you’d think it should have been a big deal, but unfortunately (yawn) it was not very memorable, except, perhaps the guy hawking the pink no fog wax sticks for your shower or windshield evoking a very resonant deja vu.
Granted, a late Thursday afternoon appearance doesn’t guarantee big crowd buzz, but I think it was the emptiness of the place that revealed how similar so many of the cars are – exactly where does the Saturn exhibit end the Pontiac start? You’d think GM dealers would have spread themselves out a bit to help differentiate product…but perhaps birds of feather do flock together. How many different ways are we going to slice and dice luxo Lexus SUV clones.
Okay, enough cynicism, there actually were a few interesting autos there that are worth mentioning, a few of which I hadn’t seen up close and personal. Let’s start with the new Audi R8 – it looks purposeful, more than capable, and close to bad as factory car can, but lacks a certain sensuality, looking almost a bit sterile. They had two on exhibit – the silver one at the right, roped off from the masses, but another one was there, one you could get a little closer look at and where your wallet wasn’t subject to evaluation. It was in a can’t miss it spot at foot of the escalators, dressed to the nines in black and white for the CHP ball. The R8 should be a strong candidate for Club Sportiva inclusion, should any one want my opinion.
Speaking of potential Club cars, the GT-R was up on the Nissan stage, looking perhaps a little more bad than the Audi. It was especially interesting to see the US debut of this long sought after, perhaps even legendary street racer, considering the reputation/pedigree/hype (as the Skyline GT-R) that grew out its starring role the 2003 movie 2 Fast 2 Furious, driven by the film’s hero (Paul Walker,) as he drove and raced it around the streets of Miami.
I was hoping to see a BMW Z4 M Coupe, but was disappointed. As an urban vehicle, the new Volvo C30 looked great, an viable alternative to the Mini. I was also kinda of imprezza with the looks of the new Suburu WRX – they seemed to take inspiration from the Mazda 3, and this is good thing for Japanese automotive styling, which has a tendency to be either monotonously derivative or bland and lacking integration because styling decision were committee driven to be safe and inoffensive.
And finally, as long as we’re lobbying for new Club Sportiva steeds, I want to make a case for inclusion of a Mustang Shelby GT 500 – ever since the ’62 Vette left, we haven’t had any American representation. This is a car whose power to cost ratio is pretty reasonable and begs to be steered with the right foot.