Thursday, April 3, 2014

Car Show Visitors Guide AKA getting all up and in those fancy cars

  If you've ever been to one of the public days at the Paris, Frankfurt or Detroit Auto show, you know first
hand just how hard it is to get up and personnel with the high end cars.  I've had the opportunity to visit a few of the major auto shows and have developed a few tricks to make for a more enjoyable experience. Here are my top tips;
Crowds at the IAA Frankfurt 2009

Press Days - If you have the chance to go during a press day vice public, definitely do it.  There are obviously ways that an average guy could get into one of the press days, but for most it's not practical.  If you are able to get in during a press day, you will find a much smaller crowd, no barriers and easier access to the vehicles.  The manufactures want to make sure the press gets the best photos, videos and impression of their vehicles.  Most of the major manufactures will also hold press conferences during these days and freebies.
Frankfurt 2011 Crowds at the Mercedes Demo

Plan your trip - This is especially important if press days are not an option.  Hit up the show's website, print the floor plans, exhibition hall layouts and all the info you can.  If you are patient and can avoid opening day you will save yourself some frustration.  After reviewing all the info, develop a solid list of the top cars you want to experience and where they are located.  If you can purchase and print tickets online, do so as this will save some precious time and get you ahead of those less organized than you.
Porsche GT3 RS Premier at Frankfurt IAA

Dress the part - While you should dress practically for a long day of standing and walking, you also need to have a look of money about you.  It might be tempting to go with the running shoes and track suit for comfort but dressing like that will get you no where with the reps at the booth.  You also do not want to over dress as they will see right through this as well.  The key is to dress like you have money, will be comfortable throughout the day but also that aren't trying to impress anyone.  Avoid running shoes, hiking boots and stick with some simple leather shoes.  A nice button down shirt with dark blue jeans or slacks will complete the look and depending on the weather a simple sport coat or leather jacket will complete the look.  Don't forget to ditch the timex digital watch for something a little more upscale as the details matter.  Make sure the wife, girlfriend or kids that are with you also dress the part.  The kids can be another great tool to help get past the booth bouncer and up close with the car.

Just an average day at the auto show, Frankfurt 2009
Day of the show -  You'll want to get there about thirty minutes before the gates actually open and make sure you have your plan all mapped out.  The goal is to be one of the first to the cars you are most interested in.  Don't get distracted by the booth babes next to the new Honda, keep pushing straight to the Aston Martin or Lambo booth. The average visitors will simple go for stand to stand, you want to get out ahead of them.  When you do arrive at the booth of your dream car, step right up with confidence and ask to take a closer look.  The "bouncers" manning the velvet rope are just there to keep the rift raft out, not high class potential buyers like yourself.  It helps at this point if you know a little more than average about the product and can ask at least one technical question.  Once past the bouncer, there will be multiple employees eager to show you their newest cars.  Take your time, ask questions and play the part.  Don't forget to act a bit indifferent about the whole affair or they may become suspicious.  Feel free to take a few photos as well, just don't make too big a scene out of it or ask the employees to take them for you.

After finishing with one of your dream cars, head straight to the next one and you'll still be ahead of the crowds.  If you plan your trip out correctly within the first 60 minutes of being at the show, you'll have already been up close and personnel with the Astons, Ferraris, Lambos and Porsches before the swarming masses have descended.

Once the crowd's start to build at the super cars, you can transition over to checking out some of the not so expensive options or even call it a day.  By mid afternoon the area surrounding the super car booths will be a complete shoulder to should mass of people anyway.