Whether you drive or not, the allure of the Philadelphia Auto Show is undeniable. The cars are always sleek and beautiful with design elements reminiscent of fine sculpture. Returning to the Pennsylvania Convention Center this weekend, the Philadelphia Auto Show has long been one of the biggest auto shows in the country, drawing crowds of approximately 250,000.
With 2018 model cars, classic cars, famous cars from iconic films and television series and the technologies that drive them, it’s no wonder the event is so popular. And for being in its 116th year, it doesn’t look a day over 114. Kevin Mazzucola, the executive director of the Auto Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia, the owners and producers of the Philadelphia Auto Show, chats with us about what to expect this year and that brand new car smell.
What balance do you guys like to strike in celebrating the Philly Auto Show’s vivid past as well as its spicy present and future?
Spicy is a good word. First off, 116 years is a long time, enough so that we’re part of this city’s fabric. We see that generationally when we get grandfathers, sons and grandsons digging the classic car display and saying things like, “I drove one of those at age 16,” when they point out, say, our 1968 Ford Shelby GT 500. You can see the history of design and how the industry moved.
On the flip side of that though, you’re showing off pre-production models and technologies that are just coming into their own.
The KIA Stinger, the Lexus LC 500, the Chevy Equinox, a GMC Terrain — everyone is going to love seeing these. But, yeah, it’s the technology that is being celebrated — a transformation in the industry as important as the conveyor belt. You’re going to see and hear discussion about semiautonomous vehicles, those functions usually performed by a driver, like lane avoidance which warns of vehicles in the blind spot or even self-parking.
It’s like a smartphone, then.
Exactly. The future of the industry is an interface with drivers similar to the smartphone with new consumers looking for collaborators in their car, whether it is navigation or hand-free texting. And the cool thing is the democratization of the technology. It used to be that only high end, pricey vehicles had this technology. Not now. All vehicles, low end and high end, will soon have the semiautonomous functions.
Shifting gears for a second, what’s the newest element of the Black Tie Tailgate gala?
The 5,000 attendees will get a chance to dig into our newest restaurant partners, Sbraga, Townsend and, for dessert, Termini Bros. Bakery.
For those of us who don’t drive, the idea of a Hollywood cars display is pretty cool. What’s on board and why do this now since you haven’t displayed these cars before?
We need to raise to our game. Outside of the films and the internet, people don’t get a chance to see cars like our 1966 Batmobile, “Back to the Future’s" Delorean, the original “Ghostbusters” 1991 Cadillac Hearse Ecto-1 or “Dumb and Dumber’s" 1989 Ford Econoline Van “Sheep Dog” promotional vehicle — the Mutt Cutts Mobile.
You deal with top-notch vehicles daily. What cars are you most excited to slip into during the Auto Show?
Seriously there are a few radically different cars, such as the Lexus LC 500’s V-8 blend of style and power. That’s just beautiful. Then there is the Chevy Bolt which is crucial as it is a purely electric vehicle that you can plug in and go upwards of 240 miles on one charge, And it’s affordable — between $30,000 and $35,000. Then there’s the Turbo V-8-powered Ferrari GTC4 Lusso T. These move me. You have to find what moves you.
IF YOU GO:
The Philadelphia Auto Show
Jan. 28-Feb. 5
Pennsylvania Convention Center
1101 Arch St.
Children ($7) Adults ($14)