QotW: What’s your fondest auto show memory?

It seemed like only yesterday but it was February 28, 2020 when the Geneva Motor Show was canceled. With millions in booth displays already spent and cars shipped from around the globe, the show was axed just four days before doors opened on March 3 due to the pandemic. All major international auto shows have had to cancel at least one (Detroit hasn’t been held in traditional form in almost three years) since then.

This past week the Los Angeles Auto Show opened, but it was a sad affair. Only 16 major brands had booths, compared to 31 in 2019. Many are predicting the death of the auto show. The dealer-run tire-kicking type will probably still exist, but the kind where OEMs flashily unveil breathtaking cars and the let the public view them on rotating turntables — the kind where many of us felt our first pangs of automotive love — is probably over.

What’s your fondest auto show memory?

The best comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s your fondest memory of the Acura Integra?

The Integra meant a lot of things to different people, and in fact its excellence at so many things was a big part of its charm. David, for example, had a story for every generation, including the RSX, that was basically its own coming-of-age story.  Walter and Negishi no Keibajo had memories of family matriarchs driving them.

Like many of us, Styles had his eyes (and ears) opened to Soichiro Honda’s brilliance thanks to a single unforgettable pull. Yuri relayed an absolutely heartbreaking story of a spoiled kid’s GS-R while CycoPablo gave us another sad tale of having to part with one because of a non-stick-driving companion. Meanwhile dankan illustrates perfectly why certain cars still draw us in no matter how unpractical.

This week’s winner is Taylor, whose laundry list of mods brings us back to the tuner heyday and helps explain the new Integra’s lack of love from fans:

It was the third-generation Integra that really brought me into the import tuning scene. Since I obviously couldn’t “pay to play” I was relegated to high school levels of car customization, namely clear corners, fuba antennas, cutting springs, the squash air fresheners, fog lights, and racing stickers galore. The latest issue of Bay Area’s then “Tuning Concept” magazine, going to the car shops to look at the shiny exhausts, hiding the car magazines behind our textbooks in class…

If you say the word “Integra,” it will definitely spark the 90s for me.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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17 Responses to QotW: What’s your fondest auto show memory?

  1. RainMeister says:

    That image (guessing 1970/71) of the Datsun show stand evokes memories of my youth when going to an auto show generated a different level of excitement. My baptism was the 1971 New York Auto Show, and my father (a Nissan employee in the old Secaucus, NJ office) brought me to the now defunct Coliseum venue in Manhattan. With far fewer promotional outlets back then, car companies pulled out the stops to create an incredible spectacle, usually debuting one-off show cars mixed in with new car premiers and real racer cars.

    I have a vague recollection of going by the small, unremarkable Datsun and Toyota booths. Much more intriguing were cars like the Stutz Blackhawk, DeTomaso Pantera (Lincoln-Mercury booth), and the Dodge Charger Daytona with its ridiculously tall rear wing (The latter are worth a million dollars now, but they languished in dealer lots back then).

    The most memorable car from that show wasn’t any vehicle made by a car company, but a promotional vehicle commissioned by the Manufacturers Hanover Bank (predecessor to JP Morgan Chase). The AnyCar was a creation of the legendary car customizer Gene Winfield. It was an amalgamation of a Ford Falcon, Chrysler 300, Volkswagen Beetle, AMC Javelin, and the Pontiac Grand Prix. There would be two more versions created in following years. https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2015/04/17/the-ultimate-bitsas-anycar-i-ii-and-iii

    Having collected a shopping bag full of car catalogs (do they even print those any more?) at each mfr booth, I never tired of poring through each one for days on end. Also included in my haul were promotional posters and my first 1/43 scale model car purchased from a vendor booth at the show. To this day, the habit of collecting cars in that scale has stuck with me at several hundred and counting.

    I still occasionally attend major auto shows, but they feel too sterile and safe; like going to a local dealer mall under one giant roof. They lack the excitement, variety and surprise element of those ’70s shows. These days, I get my rush at the SEMA show in Vegas, or the historic car shows (e.g., Japanese Classic Car Show, Pebble Beach, Best of France & Italy). I guess nostalgia is hard to beat.

  2. Azfer says:

    I tried to submit a comment for this question as well but it wasn’t working. For other posts, it was. Is it maybe because I have already won a set of decals before?

    • Ben Hsu says:

      That shouldn’t have stopped you. When you say it wasn’t working, did you get some kind of error message?

      • Azfer says:

        No error message. Nothing happened after I hit the Post Comment button. I tried a few times and then refreshed and tried but wasn’t able to enter it. Then when I posted a comment on a different post and it went through, I figured it had something to do with me winning it earlier and there being a restriction on how many times someone can win.

      • Ben Hsu says:

        Ah, it was caught in our spam filter. I’ve unblocked it but I can’t see any words that would have caused it to go to spam. Strange. Sorry for the confusion!

        • Azfer says:

          I see how it is. You have to force your spam filter to like me?lol. I had a 90 GS and it was the coolest car I have owned so far. This post triggered memories with it, although they were few because I had it for a very short time frame.

    • RainMeister says:

      I had the same problem last night. Wanted to share my early childhood experience directly related to that caption photo of the Datsun booth. Took me a while to write, so that’s disappointing. Unfortunately, I didn’t save it. I’ve also won 2 sets of decals already, so I’m good there. Just wanted to post my contribution to the site.

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Sorry about that, RainMeister. I was able to pull it out of the spam folder and publish it.

  3. dankan says:

    I think my fondest autoshow memory is not of any particular autoshow, but it was where there the pangs of car love come from for me, and that’s the magazine coverage of them. Teenage me had a subscription to Road & Track and their enthusiastic coverage of Detroit, Geneva, and Tokyo ensured I got to see every shiny dream car that showed up. And also, sometimes, the deeply funky oddball ideas that were also there but weren’t sports cars. Sure, the debut of the Boxster concept and Viper Coupe at the same 1996 show was probably the biggest single journalistic orgasm I ever saw committed to print, but there was also stuff like first sightings of the Nissan Figaro, which R&T then later road tested despite it never having a hope of coming to North America as a new car. No one mentioned the 25 year rule back then, so this was strictly pure self-indulgence. But it also was a great eye-opener into what car fun could be. It didn’t have to be supercars. You could have fun every day, just doing your own thing. And that lesson was probably the most important one a young enthusiast could ever learn: You can have fun with any car, not just something with 300hp and a pony on the front. And that’s what JNC love is about frequently as well. It’s not just the Zs, or the Type-Rs. It’s about beat-up kei trucks, station wagons, and the joy of cars for the people, too.

  4. jim simpson says:

    Probably showing the Nardi Blue Rays together at the Concourso Italiano with Blue Ray III which was my own creation… Still own Blue Ray III which was built in steel on a Mazda 929 prototype chassis… a shame I cant post a picture…

  5. bob says:

    Despite the low turnout (we were looking forward to seeing offerings from a couple of the no-shows), the Subaru Solterra display was amazing. They put up a remarkable display with impressive graphics, a lot of brand building (didn’t see anybody else building National Parks in the L.A. Convention Center), and a car that actually caught our attention.

    Car shows may be dying, but Subaru really nailed its last hurrah.

  6. MikeRL411 says:

    Debut of the ChevyCorvette wagon prototype at the GM Auto show at the NY Coloseum Custom body work on a 1963 Bel Aire station wagon chassis.

  7. Ian G. says:

    I was not there for this but I remember reading on R&T & Car and Driver about the 1983 Tokyo Auto Show where they debuted a very nice concept called the SV-3 which ended up being the Toyota MR2. I remember really loving that design even as a young kid. Fast forward a year & a half later seeing an actual MR2 for the first time outside my family’s shop in that glorious blue with Delaware vanity tag “MR2”. I was hooked. My older brother ended up buying a brand new ’86 that I begged him a few years later to let me take to prom.
    As an adult, I’ve owned and sold a half dozen MR2’s but still have my brother’s ’86 as my one & only. I still recall being a kid & reading about/drooling over those Auto Show pics from ’83 as the catalyst for my addiction.

  8. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    The first autoshow I went to: mid 60’s Tokyo Auto Show at the old Harumi site. That’s when I found out concept cars were a thing. Next would be I think the 2015 Tokyo Autoshow. Seeing the Mazda RX-Vision blew my mind.

  9. Taylor Cheung says:

    I can’t say I had a specific memory, so I will throw a recap here. My first auto show was the 1992 San Francisco International Auto Show over in Moscone Center. It was a father / son trip the day after Thanksgiving, and the lines were long. I did not know what to expect, but as I descended the long elevator my eyes became wide opened by the the scale of presentation before me.

    It was a dream come true to climb into vehicles that my dad and I wouldn’t otherwise have any business getting into (eg. Cressida, Miata, LS400, Q45, 300ZX, Legend, Maxima, 3000GT, etc). I remember the doors for the NSX were locked, oh well. Cars that had manual transmissions were greeted by my 8th grade Jackie Chan “Thunderbolt” speed shifter hands, pretending to power shift and go into the hypersphere. You know you only had a limited amount of time in that driver’s seat, as there’s a line of people waiting outside the driver’s door, hanging onto their brochure bags.

    Ah yes, the WONDERFUL brochures. You get the product line brochure at the auto show, and by the time you leave the show it’s like you just came out of some Nordstrom shopping spree, bags stretched from the weight of the literature you nabbed. As soon as I got home, I pulled off the perforation post card, filled out my mailing address, and then check off the model-specific brochures I wanted (Cressida, Miata, LS400, Q45, 300ZX, etc..). Those model-specific brochures were like heaven: giant colorful pictures, action shots, specs and specs galore, super glossy color samples on the back, and the foldouts… Who needed to go to the local poster store when your bedroom walls would adorn with your own dream car collection?

    Car shows will never be the same, and they were definitely good times. From father / son bonding, to going with my high school / college friends and posing next to “our cars,” to letting my 3yr-old daughter stand on the driver’s seat and press all the buttons she could care for, these were seriously treasured memories. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  10. Too many good memories to pick just one. Several were thanks to Ben.

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