Every year around this time my dreams come true – if only for a short while – when I sit in my true love: a BMW 3 Series Convertible at the Philadelphia International Auto Show. If they had a M3 Convertible open I’d be sitting in that, but usually they have those roped off from drooling fools like myself.
I always savor those few special moments with my convertible, admiring the leather and sleek controls, pumping the shifter knob through the gears and wondering what it must feel like to floor the throttle. Then some other poor BMW nerd comes up and fidgets impatiently perhaps throwing an anxious glare, eventually ousting me from my dream.
BMW is only one of the many car manufacturers represented at the Philadelphia Auto Show. The annual show is an exhibition of over 700 vehicles from 40 manufacturers, on two floors, spanning four exhibition halls of the Philadelphia Convention Center. Featuring something for every taste and budget, visitors enjoy the newest on the road, from Ford, Honda, and Cadillac to Maserati, Porsche, Land Rover and even the Maybach, to name a few.
I somehow managed to make it to the car show early Saturday morning, opening day, in order to complete my annual tour, otherwise known as Drool Fest 2005. As always I was not disappointed by the vast array of vehicles to gawk over and sit in.
Unlike its Paris and Detroit counterparts, where automakers unveil a variety of concept vehicles to the public, the Philadelphia International Auto Show concentrates mainly on vehicles that are currently available in dealerships. However, there are usually several different concept vehicles that pepper the Convention Center floor.
Perhaps my favorite feature of this year’s car show was the brand new Tuner Salon. Located between the Main Exhibition Hall and the Grand Hall, the Tuner Salon features tricked out vehicles boasting the latest in audio and TV systems, body work and engine modifications all wrapped up in exotic paint jobs.
The Tuner Salon also boasts DUB Magazine’s display of celebrity vehicles including Mase’s 2005 Bentley Continental GT, Shaquille O’Neal’s 2004 Cadillac Escalade (yes the one you saw on MTV Cribs with the Superman logo on the grill and leather seats), and Ludacris’ 2004 Cadillac Escalade EXT.
In addition to the hundreds of new vehicles and celebrity vehicles, on the lower level there is a section dedicated to classic and antique cars.
The car show is a blast for almost any avid car fan. Covering 550,000 square feet, attendees are almost sure to find their favorite car, and maybe even sit in it. The show, which is held in the Philadelphia Convention Center, opened on Saturday Feb. 5 and will run until the 13. Admission for adults (13 and over) is $10 on weekdays and $12 on the weekends, $6 for children (7-12) and senior citizens (62+, weekdays only) and free for children six and under.
Josh Chamberlain can be reached at Joshch@temple.edu.