2009 Detroit Auto Show - The Best and Worsts
STEVE’S BEST AND WORST OF THE 2009 DETROIT AUTO SHOW
By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
MOST ANACHRONISTIC VEHICLE –
Can you believe they are still
building the Mercury Grand Marquis
. That rear-wheel drive design must be 50
years old by now but there are still buyers out there I guess. The Ford
version, Crown Victoria, is still being made for cop and fleet cars and
they even build the Lincoln Town Car by contract for limo fleets. The big
rear-drive Fords are not dead yet.
MOST ANACHRONISTIC BRAND – Hummer, to be sure. While
the designs of the H2 and H3 (the H1 went away a few years ago) and the
purpose for each may still be relevant to a few (off road capability is
respectable) the brand’s designs have always been garish and
overdone. Now they are becoming superfluous as well.
BEST DESIGNED DISPLAY
– Head and shoulders above the
had the best display both because of the architecture and
the carefully selected spread of cars. With bright, aesthetically pleasing,
massive shapes and cars limited to nicely balanced colors – mostly
white cars with one red sports car and a red, white and silver race car for
accent. Audi also won two respected design awards for the sports car and
concept sedan - well deserved, indeed.
MOST INCONGRUOUS – Perhaps the bio-fueled Bentley
Continental gets this accolade. Why does it matter if this big, beautiful
car runs on bio-fuel?
MOST FUN DISPLAY
always seems to be the most fun.
Though there is much less interactivity this year, their ice-block house
design is cool. The Mini models – racing edition, sport wagon and now
convertible set the tone of fun and the display blends right in.
MOST SIGNIFICANT VEHICLE INTRODUCTION
– While some believe
the Taurus is most significant because it is Ford’s bread-and-butter
car, I’ll go with the new Ford Fusion Hybrid
. At over 40-mpg, it is
going to keep Old Henry’s company in the long-term hunt.
BEST CONCEPT CAR
– Certainly we find way fewer concept cars
from which to choose. For me the Cadillac Converj
runs away with this one
– essentially what a Volt would look like as a sleek Cadillac coupe.
So what if its name is a little silly.
– The two Silicon Valley-sourced electric
cars – Fisker and Tesla. Both were pie-in-the-sky last year and
production ready this year. Fisker is presenting an attainable (80-grand or
so) luxury sport sedan with great style. And Tesla has both a practical
sports car and a contract in-hand to produce electric power units for the
new Smart Fortwo electric.
– The New Chrysler
display, perhaps the
most unadorned display ever to appear at the Detroit Auto Show from the
company that until just this year had been famous for the most bold and
brash events and displays.
– The first time ever privately owned car
has been displayed on the main floor – Dr. Gary Kaberle, originally
from near Greenville, MI has designed a reproduction of one of the
legendary Alfa Romeo Bat cars with the help of Italian Design firm Bertone.
The fascinating story is too involved to tell here but we’ll do that
in print one of these days.
BIGGEST NEWS – Chrysler is selling the PT Cruiser tooling
to a Chinese auto maker giving one of the longest running models and even
WORST OF SHOW
– I couldn’t find anything at the show
that deserves this designation.
BEST MONEY-IS-NO-OBJECT CAR
– I’m going with the Audi
on this one. Yes the AMG Mercedes SL-Class
costs more and has the
Mercedes ambiance but I agree with the right-brainers of the Eyes on Design
awards judging team that the Audi is the best design of all the production
cars at the show. Besides, this one is red – and I’m partial to
red sports cars.
– Perhaps it’s because I’m an
older guy but lust is getting to be a retro thing for me so this award goes
to the rumbling, grumbling Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang
. Carroll Shelby himself,
now 88-years-old and on his second heart, was there to punctuate its
BEST OF SHOW
– While I hate to follow the crowd, and I
don’t consider myself a partisan, sometimes there is an obvious
winner and I’ll agree with many others that the Cadillac Converj
that car. By the way – last year my choice was the CTS Coupe.
Cadillac is on a roll in my view.