Auto Show fans ready to spend money

Auto Show fans ready to spend money

As soon as the doors to Cobo Center opened Saturday for the start of the 2013 North American International Auto Show, some people steered straight toward the new Corvette Stingray, while others headed to the Maserati section and beyond.

I’m thinking of getting a new car and Fiat is in the running, said Ku, a self-employed mental health therapist who is in the market for a new car after driving a Toyota Yaris the past few years.

I’m into the compact cars. We’re going to look at all of the brands the Audi, the Lexus SE. I like a smaller car but the Lexus SE is pretty compact for a Lexus, which is more known as being large and roomy.


For those looking to check out cars for a future purchase, the car show offered a seemingly endless array of styles and colors for all tastes and incomes.

Dan Brady, an officer with the Monroe Police Department, drives a 2001 Silverado but was eyeballing the Corvette, although he said his next vehicle most likely will be another truck.

I wanted to see that Corvette, Brady said. Visually, it’s beautiful. Corvette has made a great car for years and years. That’s out of my price range, but that new Jeep is looking sharp, too. I want to see all of the new stuff coming out.

Tim Rahaman, 26, of St. Clair Shores, isn’t in the market to buy a new car right now but did want to check out what is available.

I’m looking for the new technology and to see what’s coming out next year in body designs. And I definitely came out to see the Corvette, said Rahaman, who works in sales.

The mood at the opening of the nine-day car extravaganza was noticeably more upbeat than that of the 2008-2010 economic downturn, including nights where leaks from Cobo’s roof only added to the bleak environment.

But with a $20 million-plus renovation of Cobo Center nearing completion, the addition of a spacious new atrium that allows in more sunlight from the Detroit River side of the building seemed to brighten not only the inside of the venue but everyone’s spirits.

In the show’s opening hours, people were elbow-to-elbow buying Made in Detroit apparel at the Detroit Shoppe in the corridor, along with hot dogs, soda and potato chips. Attendance picked up as the day progressed, but a final tally was not available at press time. Last year, more than 770,000 attended the nine-day event, contributing at least $350 million to the local economy, according to auto show economist David Sowerby.

The energetic vibe was contagious, according to Carey Torrice, a former Macomb County commissioner.

I’ve noticed the carmakers have spent more money on the displays this year, said Torrice of Clinton Township, who also works as an actress and private investigator. People are really, really excited this year. You can tell the economy has picked up.

The main showroom itself has more than 735,000 square feet for 500 cars, displays, simulators and other items, but the concourse area also was buzzing with activity. With the addition of the atrium and its staircase this year, the show has more than 1 million square feet of things to see and do.

This show and Cobo itself have really come a long way since the 1970s, said Roseville Mayor John Chirkun, a self-avowed Ford trucks fan. The place is more open and bright, just really spectacular. They’ve done an awesome job in running this auto show.

Earlier this week, more than 5,000 journalists from all over the world descended on Cobo Center for the press days, and two days were set aside for industry insiders such as engineers and retailers. On Friday night, some 13,000 took part in the Charity Preview, raising $3.9 million for nine Detroit-area charities.

In addition to the cars, the show contains many free educational and fun exhibits for families ranging from race simulators to photo booths and the celebrity chair from NBC-TV’s vocal competition The Voice, electric vehicles, a glow-in-the-dark Mustang and much more.

The North American International Auto Show is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. today through Jan. 26, with no admission after 9 p.m. Hours on Jan. 27 are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for seniors and $6 for children. Kids under the age of 6 are allowed in free. For more information, visit

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