Not to be out done I do travel within the United States to places other than Hawaii or Lake Tahoe though most of the places I visit are the result of business trips which may make it more understandable that when I go on vacation it's outside of the country that is so often my destination. Here at least are pictures taken from either business trips or weekend getaways.


New York International Auto Show

While on a business trip to Stamford, Connecticut I found myself staying the weekend with nothing to do. New York was hosting a car show that weekend so I decided to drive down to the "Big Apple" which is 45 minutes south from where I was. A quick jaunt along the Hudson Parkway and I was at the Jacob Javits Center. While there I couldn't help but feel a tinge of melancholy by a remark made by a person in the crowd as to why they had a statue of some old guy at a car show. Of course this was of the legendary Senator himself, Jacob Javits.

The New York International Auto show is the largest show of its kind in the United States.While missing the brands that in Europe often produce some of the most striking cars such as Lancia, Renault and not least of all Alfa Romeo what struck me was that the most interesting cars at least on a visual level were those from Detroit. Frankly except for a model by Mercedes of their new super wagon, the Vision I was disappointed by the lack of concept cars shown by the European manufacturers. Either they were holding something back for their own European shows or there was nothing new to offer. It seemed that they were treating the auto show as nothing more than a roving showroom rather than a chance to display their talents. I know from visiting similar shows in Europe that the situation is quite different on the other side of the ocean. There concept cars by Volkswagen and Audi have caused quite a stir in previous years.

My main reason to visit the car show was Mercedes' Vision. Billed as a Grand Sports Tourer it's a hybrid between a station wagon and an SUV with a heavy dose of Sports thrown in. Except for the seating there is no utility here except an awesome capability to get 6 people from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time. It almost seems a crime to drive this car on the highway at 65 mph as it was built to cruise at speeds in access of 100 mph all day long or enough time to have breakfast in Italy and dinner in Holland. There are three rows of seats and a sun roof that covers most of the vehicle. It sports all-wheel drive on 22 inch wheels. Because of the large wheels and tires and the angle of the roof this car looked like no station wagon or SUV I ever saw. On the other end of the spectrum I'm also waiting on the introduction of the Smart Car to these shores. For those not familiar with this car it's the result of a concept designed by Mercedes and the Swiss watchmaker Swatch. A cute little mini-car smaller than anything on the road in the United States.

With the conservatism of the European manufacturers it was left to the American car makers to excite the attendees. I think that eventually this may come back to hurt the Europeans as the Americans must get it right sooner or later. The problem I have had with the cars from Detroit is that beauty is too often skin deep. General Motors seemed to have the sleekest new cars that one could only hope kept up the bargain. It never ceases to amaze me what the American public is willing to put up with in their cars but it is quite possible having been brought up in their father's Oldsmobile that they don't really know what a proper handling car feels like. Having rented numerous American cars in my day I firmly believe that that is true. I have always felt that the strongest component in a car from Detroit was its engine but from there it goes down hill. Cadillac is making a big push to come back from the dead with several new models. You have to admit their cars look striking if not a little bloated or even sinister. New trucks and SUVs were a plenty. These SUVs that never see dirt except from the bottom of some little leaguer's shoe must be the craziest idea ever fostered on to a naive consumer but what would you expect from a country where the best selling car is not a car at all but a truck. You would almost think that most of the roads in the U.S. are un-paved. Well a couple of dashes around the hall and off I go back to my hotel.