I live in Southern California, and even though I have not yet been
the Los Angeles Auto Show, I pretty much know what to expect. Not from
the cars and trucks themselves, but how I and most everyone else will approach
and therefore judge each vehicle. I know because I do the same darn thing each
First you walk up to the vehicle and give the handle a good solid tug. Then you
plump down into the seat and inhale the glorious and heady mixture of industrial
glue and upholstery dye. Why is that such a glorious scent? Maybe I am alone on that
one. Next you put your hand on the shifter and get a feel for how it fits in your hand. (If
it is a manual transmission I always slide the shifter from first to second, as if that
would give me any indication how it shifts on the road or where the clutch take up is. I
wonder how destroyed the syncromesh is on old manual transmission vehicles used at auto
shows. I know you never see them for sale at dealers like ex-rentals. Which must mean
they REALLY get trashed.)
Then this is where things get really weird. Because I see most everyone else doing
this exact same thing. First they flick the turn signal back and forth. Then they turn
the knobs on the stereo and fiddle with a secondary control somewhere on the center stack.
Then it's time to open the center console, and a turn around to the rear seats (if there
are any.) Then we open the door, convinced we have figured out if this is a "quality" vehicle
So this brings us to my next point. Automakers love to tout the "perceived" quality inherent
in their vehicles. Audi and VW do this "feeling" best, but as their quality rankings attest,
this feeling doesn't necessarily bear out in the real world. For example, Honda's and
Subaru's do not have "damped" controls like the door handles of an Audi. So does that mean they are not "quality" vehicles. Judging by how many 20 year old Subaru and Honda models on the road, I really don't think that is the case.
And don't get me started on the word "perceived quality." I swear most every car launch
today touts their new vehicle and its "perceived quality." That is like ADMITTING you haven't built a car with any "real" quality, just one that seems like it. In the truck world, this "perceived" interior quality has become of utmost importance since the 2004 Ford F-150 shocked the world with its pretty decent interior. Of course now it has been one upped by the Toyota Tundra and Chevy Silverado. But which one breaks down least? I am sure it has little to do with which has the nicest feeling heater controls at the Auto Show. As the old adage goes, perception is not always reality.
So tell us about your ritual at car and truck shows? Do you kick tires or do exactly like
I do? I would love to hear about it!