I've never cared much about cars. I've always viewed them more of a means to get from point A to B. I even have a kind of car blindness. I can be introduced to a friend's car and not remember any distinguishing details about it, other than maybe the color. It just doesn't stick.
This morning, Dan and i set out for the Los Angeles Auto Show at the Convention Center in downtown. We couldn't attended the show with our Socal Smarties Meet-Up group, who went en-mass on Saturday, but Dan wore his Smart Car gear and we set out to support our little cars.
We arrived at nine-thirty and braced ourselves for a day battling crowds. Parking was fifteen dollars, cash only, on the center's lot and we had a decent spot within ten minutes. The entrance was well organized with several ticket kiosks for credit card sales, twelve dollars a person. We were in the center in five minutes. My only gripe about the organization, is we never were given, nor did we see, a map of the layout and vendors. We wandered between the halls and think that we saw it all.
The Smart USA booth was decent. They had several cars, both fun and functional with great graphics that captured the spirit of the brand. One of the first cars that you see when entering the area is a modified Smart with wings. One of the great things about Smarts, is they really lend themselves to doing fun modifications. i love seeing all of the unique cars that members bring to our meetup group. i wish that ours were owned, rather than leased, so that we can do some crazy modifications. Our cars always seem dull in comparison.
My favorite new Smart, is the electric. I love that it has a bike rack on the back. I say this, like I am a big biker, when I have a fancy mountain bike that has been gathering dust in my garage for five years after being ridden twice. However, maybe if it fit so cute on my car, i would take it out for some adventures! Just seeing it, fills me with love of the idea.
i normally favor grey or green colored cars, but the newest limited edition Smart is a pretty pearl white color named Ice Shine.
The booth had a nice lay out, but we were all disappointed by the lack of employee involvement. There were five staff members, firmly planted behind a desk area, looking bored and talking amongst themselves, when they should have been interacting with visitors. it was a very popular booth and with a lot of people who had an interest in the cars. If they had enthusiastic employees manning the booth, they would have made a better impression and maybe some sales.
I was sad to see the following sign, listing the Southern California Smart Car Centers. We currently have to haul our car out to Beverly Hills for maintenance. Several employees have mentioned that new centers would be coming, but so far, this map is all old news. I would love the Mercedes Benz on Brand Blvd to open a Smart Center. Hint, hint.
in addition to the Smart USA booth, we were very eager to check out Smart Madness. Smart Madness is a customization shop that many people in our car group have used for cool modifications to their cars. We hear their company mentioned at every meet up. They were even co-sponsers of the Jam on the Dam meetup, where we participated in trying to break the world record of most cars on the Hoover Dam. We were very excited to talk to the people at the booth and check out what they had to offer.
The Smart Madness booth was the biggest let down at the auto show. First, they didn't have any really interesting custom cars. Most of what they had on display was completely ordinary. They only car that really peaked our interest was the Smart Cross Blade, a limited edition that is no longer available and something that we had never seen.
i feel like they really missed the mark, by failing to highlighting the services that they offer. The booth had very little in the way of signage or pictures. if we had not come specifically to see their booth, we would have walked right past it. They people running the booth never once smiled or approached us and they were not at all busy. We felt unwelcome and left with a bad feeling about Smart Madness. Here are a few other pictures from their booth.
in addition to our two Smarts, Dan has a Limited Edition Mustang RTR. He had it heavily customized through Galpin Auto Sports. We had a great time talking to the nice people at Galpin, some of whom worked on Dan's car. They didn't have any of the RTR's at the show, but here is one mean looking car that we saw.
Here's one for my "So You're Dating a Brit' blog post series. The phone booth was in the Mini Cooper section, another cool small car!
The silver mirror car is very eye-catching, but I imagine that it would be a safety hazard on a sunny California day. Maybe it's only sold in Seattle?
We had a lot of fun watching the remote controlled cars go nuts on a course. Those cars really take a beating and are probably worth the five hundred dollar price tag. Dan got a great video of the cars in action. Keep a watch for the second jump!
i've saved the best for last. it was love at first sight when Dan and I locked eyes on our future vehicle at the Campagna Motors booth. We knew that we had to have it, although at first, it was one of several unique vehicles that we were deciding between. Our eye first went to the T-Rex 14 RR, a street legal race trike and in most states, you don't even need a motorcycle license to drive it. Here are a few pictures, the green is the RR and the red is a standard model, still fast though. The price difference is approximately five thousand.
We were sold on the T-Rex. I was already having dreams of epic road trips and I named our new toy, Frogger. However, we realized that it might not be a great idea, after Michel Paquette, the super nice Director of Sales and Marketing, let Dan climb into the driver's seat. He technically fit, but at nearly 6'4, it was a bit of a squeeze and just didn't seem safe.
Michel directed us over to the V13R Roadster and we were in love. it still has the speed and is sporty, but is a lot more roomy.
Campagna Motors is located in Montreal and the cars are sold in very limited quantities. it's fun, fast and completely unique. They will be opening a small boutique dealership in Los Angeles in early 2013. One of my favorite features on the roadster and trikes is that they both have two detachable suitcases. if i can learn to pack light, this would be great for traveling around the states. Besides loving the product, we really enjoyed talking to the warm, helpful staff at the Campagna Motors booth. Check out their website.
We had a fantastic time at the auto show. it runs through December 9th, check it out!
A note a few days later.. the nice people at Smart Madness responded to my complaint about their booth. The apologized for not greeting us, but also put out a good point about the exhaustion that takes place mid-event. Everyone is working long hours at the show and it's definitely felt more by smaller companies with less people to help man the booths. If you head out to the show this week and are not getting the info you need, approach the vendors. We will next time, lesson learned!