I fondly recall the first time my father took me to a major car show. It was the 1967 British International Motor Show, which was then held at Earls Court in London. We spent hours wandering around eyeing up all the new products. In fact, I think I slid behind the wheel of just about every vehicle before finally being dragged off home, clutching my five carrier bags of goodies which had kindly been supplied by the car companies in attendance.
Oh yes, times were quite different back then! Seeing as I was only seven years of age at the time, the swimsuit-clad girls did very little for me personally. However, they probably played a huge part in staving off my father’s grunts & groans as I tugged him from car to car so, for that, I must thank them.
Of course, the instant I arrived back home, I set about the task of covering my bedroom walls with all the posters I’d amassed during my visit. Those were the days when the car companies went all out to entice the youngsters, as opposed to now where kids are often banished from the stands for fear of sticky fingerprints on highly polished paintwork.
Yes, the old saying of “get ‘em while they’re young” still rang true back then, and brand loyalty meant a young guy/girl was groomed at an early age to follow in their parents’ footprints regarding vehicle choice. Today, it’s more a case of looking for the credit card or the university entrance papers before you give them the time of day!
Much of this I blame on leasing. After all, the car companies have, for many years now, gone for instant gratification over long-term brand loyalty and I’ve always believed this to be a little short-sighted of them.
However, the auto show
circuit has changed quite dramatically over the years, too. Much of this has the Internet to thank. After all, whereas you used to have to wait for the yearly show to come around to view the latest & greatest, they’re now instantly available online the moment someone spies them.
Venues have also changed. In fact, these are now popping up all over the place and, in many ways, overshadowing the traditional auto shows. An example of this would be the hugely successful MotorExpo
events which are staged in and around the world’s financial districts.
|MotorExpo (Photo: Kevin ''Crash'' Corrigan)
What started out as a smart idea in the UK has now spread to North America, including here in Toronto. It’s a clever idea when you think about it, as the people working in these areas often have bulging checkbooks but little time to shop around for a vehicle, so why not bring the products directly to them?
Then of course, we have the younger buyers who are, perhaps, even less likely to visit the more traditional shows. For these folks, we have the University & College events, like the one held annually at Georgian College in Barrie, Ontario. Known for its automotive programs, the college puts on its own auto show in collaboration with the manufacturers. It’s always a well-attended event, and is perhaps the perfect example of the changing ways in which car companies are attempting to get their message across.
Of course, being a professional automotive journalist, I still attend the traditional events which, on media days, allow us access to all sorts of promotional material. Yes, I still leave the halls clutching carrier bags full of goodies!
Naturally, I no longer plaster this bounty all over my bedroom wall (Her indoors rather objects to that sort of behaviour), but one day you really should take a peek at how I’m decorating my basement!
Come on now, you didn’t think I got into this game for the money, did you? The truth is, Jeremy Clarkson is the only one of us who makes any real cash from mouthing off about cars!