Philly auto dealers ‘managing well’ in tough economy

The annual auto show proves to be a big hit among car-goers, despite the economic hardships facing the country.

In a sea of gorgeous metallic colors, the scent of new car smell makes it impossible to exude any other emotion but unadulterated joy as a spectator at the Philadelphia International Auto Show.

The tall ceilings, illuminating white lights and an array of auto dealers kicked off the show on Jan. 31.

Though the current economic crisis has troubled the automobile industry, car lovers continued to enter the exhibits halls in the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Mike Jackson, CEO and chairman of AutoNation, acknowledge the economic crisis and its effect on the auto industry.

“The economy is a mess. The industry is a mess, and 2009 is going to be a very tough year,” Jackson said.

Even in tough economic times, people still come to see the Auto Show.

“About 60 percent of people who come to the Auto Show are [in] the market to buy [cars]. The show helps them make their decisions,” said Joe Magarity, chairman of the 2009 Auto Show and president of Magarity Chevrolet.

Trying to choose a car from the wide selection of efficient automobile dealers could be difficult for those seeking to purchase a new vehicle.

Chrysler dazzled the scene with its 2009 crimson Sebring on display. The four-seater convertible has a spacious and comfortable interior, perfect for a family of four or for adults who like to drive in style.

The Jeep exhibit, in addition to having its own “Jeep Climb” rock-climbing amusement ride, sported the mother of all Jeeps: a metallic green Renegade, which seemed like a sculpted work of art, rather than a concept car.

Toyota displayed the charcoal-colored VENZA at its station. VENZA is 70 percent sedan and 30 percent SUV, with both major capabilities of the respective vehicular concepts. It has SUV-friendly cargo space combined with the five-passenger seating of a sedan.

“The [VENZA] is the first new vehicle to be completely designed, engineered and manufactured here in the U.S.,” said Jordan Carson, a Toyota representative.

Subaru had the new Legacy concept car to celebrate 20 years of sedan production. The Legacy concept car is larger, with 19-inch tires and an “ultra rich, ultimate silver finish,” Subaru rep Gretchen Hanson said.

Overall, the exhibits at the Auto Show appeared to be unreal. With today’s economic hurdles, it seems unlikely that anyone would attempt to purchase a new car.

Jackson said the automobile market in Philadelphia is managing well.

“I don’t know whether it’s the connection with the sense of free-thinking independence combined with blue collar commonsense that makes [Philadelphia auto dealers] such great auto dealers, but there is certainly something special about Philadelphia,” Jackson said.

Despite the impressive qualities of all the cars at the show, nothing trumps a classic Ford Mustang – especially the 2010 model. The seductive red color combined with the convertible top gives a driver the sense of completeness.

Even for the poor college student, it is amazing how the leather seat with the top down and the feel of the Mustang’s steering wheel gives you an immediate sense of what it’s like to feel calm, cool and collected, even without your foot striking the accelerator.

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at .

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