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Cleveland Auto Show, 2007

The Cleveland Auto Show

On February 27th, 2007 the Stylin’ Trucks Truck Show Team attended the Cleveland Auto Show and had a blast.

If you’ve never been to any of the major auto shows around the country, then you are surely missing out. The Cleveland Auto Show is no exception.

Concept vehicles? Check.

Shiny new cars and trucks? Check.

The Cleveland Auto Show goes way back to 1903. Now, we don’t have any attendance numbers from that first show, but I’m guessing that it was just three guys standing around looking at “one o’ them new fangled auto-mo-beels.” Ok, maybe that’s not the case, but it could be, it could be…

Today, the Cleveland Auto Show is held in the I-X Center, a 900,000 sq. ft. facility that started life back in 1942 as the Cleveland Bomber Plant. So a building that was once used to build vehicles of destruction is now used to showcase vehicles of inspiration. How pleasant.

Unlike the Chicago Auto Show and the NAIAS, which are media shows, the Cleveland Auto Show is a full-on SUV-in-the-parking-lot, bring-the-wife-and-kids, don’t-forget-the-stroller, “Hey, Honey, check this out,” consumer-type of show.

Average Joe? This is the show for you. Love that new-car smell? This is the show for you. Want a chance to sample all of the domestic (and some non-domestic) vehicles produced? This is the show for you.

The Show
Each major manufacturer has a huge area to showcase its cars. And the manufacturers do up their areas like really classy showrooms. There are wonderful looking information desks with flowers and brochures, huge walls with gigantic signs and it’s really all very big and showy.

Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show
Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show

They also each have tons of floor space with lots of cars and trucks on display. Some vehicles are on the show floor while some are up on well designed stages and platforms. The cars and trucks on the show floor are obviously there for you to look at, touch, get into and check out. The vehicles up on stages and platforms are usually only on display and not for you to touch or get into, but there are great presentations.

I don’t know the schedule, and it’s not posted anywhere, but every once in a while people will go up on the various stages and do presentations about such and such vehicle. And each manufacturer has their own set of mini stages and presentation areas. So anywhere you go you will most likely get a chance to see a new vehicle presentation.

It doesn’t matter if someone is talking about the newest technology used to power the Chevy Volt concept, or giving a presentation on the high-points of the Chevrolet Silverado line of trucks. They’re all very informative and interesting.

So Stylin’s photographer, Una, and I went mid-day, mid-week so there would be less people in the way of the cameras. And in doing so, we missed some of the special guests. But so what? We were there to check out the newest trucks and SUVs, not sports celebrities.

Aside from the special guests that we missed, the auto show had three other events that we did get to see: A Classic Car Show in the basement, the Cleveland Dodge Dealer’s Test Track, and the Jeep Off-Road Experience.

Classic Car Show
First, let’s talk about the Classic Car Show down in the basement. I wasn’t really there for classics and wasn’t even planning on checking them out. But I took a quick trip down there anyways, just to say that I did.

Wow! There were some nice machines down there. I saw some all-out Detroit muscle cars with slicks and racing harnesses, some classic cars in completely stock form (a green ’68 LTD comes to mind…) and various other classic vehicles. Not really my cup of tea, but nice workmanship nonetheless.
Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show
Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show
Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show

Dodge Test Drive
Back upstairs on the main show floor were the previously mentioned Dodge and Jeep exhibits. The smarties over at Dodge had an area set up where you get to ride in one of a few different cars (A Charger SRT8, a few Magnum SRT8s and a Jeep Nitro RT.) Cleveland Auto Show

Now notice that I said “ride-in.” You don’t actually get to drive the car (for safety and insurance reasons) but you do get to ride in it while a professional race-car driver launches it from 0 to 30 in about a half second.
Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show

Was it awesome? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. If I had the money, would I now be in the market for a Dodge Charger SRT8? You bet I would. Would I like a Dodge representative to loan me one for an extended test drive? Of course.

Jeep Test Drive
After the Dodge heart-attack-demo, I sauntered over to the Jeep exhibit where a much more impressive driving course was set up. Only it was four times the size of the Dodge demo area and a little more engaging. Not only was there a course there for test rides but it was a really, really nice setup.
Cleveland Auto Show

Basically, the idea is the same as the Dodge exhibit; you get a test ride in a vehicle. But instead of a short burst of straight-line acceleration, you are taken on some sort of pre-built off-road course. It’s great. The whole setup is built of really heavy-duty wood (timber?) and there is a thick layer of mulch covering the floor. Add a couple of trees and we’d have been out in the Alaskan frontier.
Cleveland Auto Show Cleveland Auto Show

Anyways, so you stand in line outside the barriers and wait your turn. When you get to the head of the line, you are ushered to a waiting Jeep vehicle for a nice, off-road test drive. They had quite a few Jeeps available and I may not remember them all, but there was a Grand Cherokee, a few Wrangler Rubicons, some new four door Wranglers and maybe a Liberty or two.
Cleveland Auto Show
Cleveland Auto Show
Cleveland Auto Show

Let me tell you, if I was in the market for a Dodge or Jeep vehicle, these exhibits would have sold me. Feeling the full onslaught of the Dodge Charger’s impressive acceleration and braking really brought that car out of the magazine pages and into reality. Having never thought about buying a Jeep, I could now see myself fording streams and climbing over hill and dale in pursuit of happiness. Thanks, Dodge and Jeep, you done well.

Check back for Cleveland Auto Show, Part II, where we talk about each manufacturer's area and some of the hot trucks and SUVs that were on display!

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