STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
It’s a Philly tradition that pre-dates the Mummers.
The 114th Philadelphia Auto Show cruises in to the Pennsylvania Convention Center Jan. 31-Feb. 8, with new models that you can take a long, no-pressure look at. According to www.phillyautoshow.com, among the more than 700 vehicles and 40 brands scheduled to appear so far are a commemorative edition of the Chevy Camaro, plus the latest-model Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V (pre-production), Fiat 500X (pre-production), Lincoln MKX (pre-production), Lexus NX, Kia K900, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Chrylser 300, Ferrari exotics the 458 Italia and FF, the Cadillac Escalade and ATS Coupe, Ford Edge, F-150 and Explorer (pre-production), Nissan’s Murano, Juke and Titan (pre-production), Buick’s Encore, Cascada (pre-production) and Avenir (concept), GMC’s Yukon, Sierra and Canyon trucks, Hyundai Sonata, Genesis and Equus, and Chevrolet’s 2015 Camaro Z-28, Corvette Z06, Spark, Trax, SS and the Silverado and Colorado trucks.
Among the priceless, jaw-dropping classic models from the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum that will be on display include a 1970 Plymouth Superbird (Roadrunner), a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300-SL Gullwing (so named because the doors swing vertically and look like wings when they’re open), a 1954 Austin-Healy 100-4 BN 1, a 1950 Allard J2, a 1949 Hudson convertible, and a 1929 Dupont Le Mans Speedster. And that’s just a sample. There will be even more cars from the collections of the Antique Automobile Club of America and the LRA Auto Museum, that together will span 95 years of automotive history.
Produced by the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia, the chairman of this year’s auto show is Donald Franks, the president of the J.L. Freed Honda dealership in Montgomery Township.
According to Franks, unlike the also-high-profile auto shows in Detroit and New York, the Philadelphia Auto Show is easier to navigate because the size of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City allows the entire show to be on the same floor. And this year, it expands from 650,000 square feet to 700,000. Adding local flavor, he said, will be racing cars designed by students at Temple, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova and The Workshop School.
Camp Jeep — an interactive “off road” driving obstacle course, that also has a rock climbing wall — is being expanded this year to include a Jeep Kids Course.
Although Franks is a big fan of staying out of the cold by taking the train into the city and accessing the convention center via escalator from SEPTA’s Jefferson Station, he added it’s worth your while to step outside the convention center to check out Ride-and-Drive experiences with Toyota and Kia. After asking visitors to vote for Mustang or Camaro, and Ford or Mopar (Chrysler) in previous years, this year’s Face-Off theme is “Import vs. Domestic.” Face-Off is presented by the ADAGP and Carlisle Events, which produces a series of specialty auto shows.
“As the market matures, imports become a bigger segment of the market,” Franks said of the Face-Off theme, noting that the show will feature the newest models in the Mercedes AMG Series and the Lexus F Series.
Although traditionally dominated by USA-associated auto manufacturers, muscle cars aren’t immune either, he said, citing the Honda Civic’s presence in street racing culture.
Vote for your favorite at kiosks in the Face-Off display, or using the auto show mobile app. Whichever group receives the most votes at the end of the show will have a donation made to the charity of their choice.
Auto show smarts
Q: Oh, there’s an auto show app?
A: It’s free and available for both Android and iPhone on the auto show website, and lets you purchase tickets, access a map of the show, get vehicle info and more.
Q: So can I take pictures and video with my smart phone?
A: Yes. You can even share at www.facebook.com/phillyautoshow and on Twitter and Instagram @phillyautoshow.
Q: What about the Dub Show Tour?
A: According to the show website, you’ll find it in Hall F, with custom rides owned by Philadelphia Eagles Najee Goode, Chris Polk, Brandon Boykin, and Jeremy Maclin, as well as former Eagle Michael Vick.
Q: I know the Hard Rock Cafe and Reading Terminal Market are pretty close by. What if I decide to leave the convention center to grab a bite to eat?
A: You can get your hand stamped in order to leave and return. Be advised that there will be food stands — not all of which accept credit cards — throughout the convention center. Outside food is prohibited.
Q: Is there a place to check bags and coats?
A: Yes, for a fee.
Black Tie Tailgate
If you just can’t wait until opening day, there’s the Black Tie Tailgate Event 7 to 11:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the convention center. Dine on a menu designed by the Garces Group, sit inside the vehicles, pop the hood and kick the tires (the concept and exotic vehicles are off-limits), and dance to live music by Jellyroll. Tickets start at $225 per person and are available for purchase at www.phillyautoshow.com/bttg or by calling (800) 759-9533. Proceeds benefit the Division of Neonatology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). ADAGP has been supporting CHOP since 1986, donating a grand total of almost $6 million.
Although the Philadelphia Auto Show is considered a “non-selling” show, these numbers from the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia are worth mentioning.
The number of people in an exit poll last year, that considered themselves in the market for a new vehicle and said the show helped with their purchase decision.
The estimated “influence” on vehicle sales the 2014 auto show had.
The annual economic impact of the show on both the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The average number of attendees over the course of nine days.
For every ticket that’s sold, that amount will be donated to the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia CARing for Kids Foundation. Over the past seven years, the foundation has provided nearly 178,000 new winter coats to underprivileged children through its Driving Away the Cold program.
The amount raised by last year’s Black Tie Tailgate for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.