How annoying are car enthusiasts? You can’t mention a word about an automobile or car part without them launching into a soliloquy about the Lotus Elise versus the Lotus Elan, and how directly (or indirectly) said cars influenced the design of the Miata and other European roadsters of its class. And when it comes to NASCAR fans and truck enthusiasts, the conversations range from pretentious to perfunctory. Luckily, there’s a place for this subculture of geekdom: the modern American auto show. Feel free to send the car lover in your life to play with his or her friends at one of these ten biggest auto shows in the U.S.
When you think cars, you think Detroit. In the top car city in the nation, the 2012 Detroit Auto Show had its best opening day in years. More than 92,000 people showed up for this stunner, up about 6,000 from last year. Debuting the 2013 Cadillac ATS, the futuristic Acura NSX Concept, and the new Dodge Dart (of all things), this was a banner year for the Detroit show. And with Mercedes debuting images of Che Guevara with the Mercedes logo on his beret and stirring up controversy, it seems that there’s something in Detroit for even the most revolutionary.
Featuring lots of debuts in U.S. and international cars alike, the Los Angeles Auto Show is another worldly shining star. Usually occurring toward the holiday season, the 2011 LA Auto Show featured such debuts as the 2012 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, the crowd-pleasing 2012 Fiat Abarth, and the Subaru BRZ Concept STI.
Car culture is no joke in Houston. Whether because of sprawl and access to money, or for some other mysterious reason, the Houston Auto Show draws car enthusiasts out of the woodwork. It’s not who you’d expect either. The hipster living downtown is probably less likely to be in attendance than the suburban mom and dad that have four classic cars and want to see the newest concept design. A fun mix of family and fanatic, there’s something in Houston for everyone.
The nation’s largest and longest continually running car show, the Chicago Auto Show began in 1901, and is held annually at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention complex. This show is one of the industry stalwarts, and home to many reveals, including the 2012 Shelby GT350 and the Special Edition 2011 Mazda MX-5 Miata, a philosophical descendant of European roadsters like the stunning Lotus Elan. With targeted niches for the most specific of auto enthusiasts, mainstream and alternative press coverage, and lots of yearly buzz and boom for the Windy City, it seems that being the granddaddy of car shows ain’t so bad.
Also claiming to be the nation’s oldest (but not the longest-running), the New York City International Auto Show opened its doors to press, industry folk, and the public in 1900. The best truly international car show in the country, for auto enthusiasts, this is the best thing about springtime in New York.
An August show in California, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is not only a prestigious charity event, but a showcase and celebration of the classic cars that are giants of design and beauty. Featuring vintage futuristic concept cars, such as the original Bertone BAT (Berlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica), this event is more than 60 years old, and a true competition of elegance.
Also a prestigious California event, the Gathering at the Quail is a private group of people showcasing elegant cars and luxury brands. Exclusive and high-brow, the Gathering at the Quail (a private golf course and meeting place) places high-end buyers right in the hands of high-end sellers. Not for the faint of heart or pocketbook.
Sevenstock is the largest gathering of Mazda and rotary engine enthusiasts in the world. A bit of a celebration of brand as well, as car counterculture, Sevenstock annually brings Mazda fans from around the globe to the company’s headquarters in Irvine, Calif. Begun as an independent celebration from the SoCalRXGroup, Sevenstock has now become a corporately sanctioned event for Mazda lovers worldwide.
In the late 1980s, the area for the auto show of the Texas State Fair more than tripled, and a fanbase was born. In the middle of the fall, this international car and, of course, truck show offers activities for the whole family, as well as nice entertainment for auto enthusiasts alike. Becoming larger, more influential, and more relevant every year, the State Fair of Texas Auto Show is not one to be missed.
The Art Car Parade is the largest art car showing in the world, and definitely a place to let your freak flag fly! Though not for the traditional auto enthusiast, Art Car fans hail from Baltimore to Burning Man alike. Held in Houston, Texas — home to the Art Car Museum — this yearly gathering is both flashy and fun!
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