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2009 Detroit Auto Show: International Car of TheYear Awards

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Nissan GTR 2009 International Car of the Year

Kick Off to the Detroit Auto Show
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

Detroit MI January 10, 2009; Courtney Caldwell, founder and editor of Road&Travel Magazine, traditionally kicks of the North American International Auto Show (the Detroit auto show, that is) on the Saturday night before press days begin, with her International Car of the Year awards. Thinking back on the dozen or so ICOTY events I have attended I don’t remember too many that did not involve foul weather. This was no exception with temperatures in the teens, a brisk wind from the northwest and enough snow to make the streets of Detroit mighty slick.

The new mayor of Detroit attended, as did our US senator, Debbie Stabenow. Senator Stabenow, in her younger more trusting days, competed with us in one of our intense road rallies. I think we impressed her with our back-road adventures. She has just been named to the Senate’s energy committee, so will have some influence on automotive issues.

The tiny but dynamic Ms. Caldwell hosted along with Kevin Smith, editorial director of, this considerably scaled-down version of the awards show. Reflecting the state of the industry they presented fewer awards but made a nice show of it all. Our friend and colleague, veteran journalist Martha Hindes, wrote the lively, alliterative script and shared a table with this reporter – fun, indeed.

Some of the most renowned automotive journalists working today have been honored at ICOTY with the Lifetime Legend Award. This year’s recipient was Warren Brown of the Washington Post. Brown grew up in the 9th Ward of New Orleans and told some wonderful stories about how he made his way into auto writing.

Instead of doing the plethora of nebulous awards we’ve become used to at ICOTY, the jury of respected journalists awarded just four vehicle awards plus a fifth new one called the Earth Angel Award, sponsored by Bridgestone, to honor a company with an environmental conscience. The latter went to Honda for its earth-friendly factories.

ICOTY’s Earth, Wind & Power – Car and Truck of the Year awards, honoring environmentally friendly vehicles, went to the Volkswagon Jetta TDI and the Ford Escape Hybrid.

ICOTY’s International Car and Truck of the Year awards went to the exciting Nissan GT-R and the impressive new Dodge Ram 1500.

More “Car of the Year” awards will be announced this week in Detroit and we’ll keep you up to date on them all.

Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved.