November 28, 2012
S.F. Auto Show 2012
The 55th annual San Francisco International Auto Show has come & gone, but I can easily say that it has been the finest year yet. The expansion included cooler attractions and better cars that I've ever seen there. Hopefully this is a sign the S.F. Auto Show is on its way to becoming a major show like L.A.
This year I started in the Aftermarket Alley. Even though I usually leave it for last, I couldn't this time. There was one particular car I had to see as soon as I got there: the Ben Sopra x Fatlace GT-R. After creating the Pandora One RWB, I didn't think Mark Arcenal & his guys could come up with anything that could top it, but I've been proven wrong. I had been following the GT-R's build online from the start and was incredibly excited to learn I'd be seeing the finished product in person.
Next to the GT-R was another Fatlace creation: an FR-S fitted with a Rocket Bunny body kit. There are tons of FR-S projects in the industry now, but each one is unique and just as impressive as the next one. While this is not one of my favorites (that goes to the Rotiform's Project FR-S), I still have a lot of respect for it.
In previous years, the Alley had been dominated by Japanese cars, but it was a mixed bag this time. All kinds of vehicles were on display, ranging from this Gallardo Spyder available for rentals...
...to the overtop mods that look like something out of Need for Speed Underground both on this Accord and the 300 C in the next photo.
Which also happens to have a front end that makes it look like a Rolls Royce Phantom. I don't know about you, but I'm kind of over scissors doors on anything that's not Italian. Leave em for the Lambos.
Two Mark IV Supras were on the floor, the first of which I saw last year: a gray targa top with its hood removed to show off the goods.
Oops, how'd that rubber chicken get in there!? O:
The second Supra was also a targa top, but in red. I really should've taken a picture of the rear diffuser, it was nuts!
Another familiar face was this silver NSX, whose hood and pop up lights I adore. I woud've liked to get around the back side of it for a photo of the engine, but it wasn't possible without actually going underneath the bars :C
A few years ago, I was obsessed with the IS300. Seeing this one renewed my interest. The paint job is gorgeous and it just looks clean. Perhaps it's a bit chromey with the wheels and its silver accents, but I think it looks good. Did you notice the F-Sport badge? Interesting addition considering those didn't come out until recently.
Around the bay, you probably won't see too many cars that are slammed and cambered like this (I've actually never seen one), so a lot of the event goers were stunned at the fitment of the few V.I.P. rides present. Regardless of your stance on form vs. function (no pun intended), it's always impressive to see a car this low.
Concept cars have been in short supply at S.F. over the years, but things are looking up. This year Lexus' show-stopping LF-LC concept was on display in the center of their set up. The crowd was mesmerized, but who wouldn't be? Of all the concept cars that have recently been unveiled, I think the LF-LC is by far the most beautiful and advanced. Lexus wasn't kidding when they said they were pursuing perfection.
Heading over to the high end luxury and exotic corner of the showroom, I found more pretty things. The Murcielago may no longer be in production, but it's still a sight to behold, especially with the doors up. An Italitan bat out of hell ready for flight.
A deep red Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder sat nearby. Although Lambos are known best for being bright colors like yellow, orange, and green, this color was to die for. The black wheels finish the look off for something positively devilish. All that's missing now is a pitchfork!
Lotus had two Evora models on display. The first of which was a white Evora S. Don't be fooled by the mild nature of its color, the Evora S has 346hp and a top speed of 178mph. Not bad eh?
Its sister car was the Evora GT4, a beefier version built specifically for the track. The GT4 is supposed to be extremely grippy and more aggressive than the S model. I imagine it would be incredibly fun to take out for a track day. That livery is sick too.
Ahh, Aston Martin, how I love thee. I spent quite a bit of time with these beauties, particularly the Rapide, which I'm becoming more and more fond of. Even after staring at it for several minutes, it's still a bit tricky to even tell this is a sedan! I would say Aston did it best when the big boys all started making four doors.
The Virage was a beautiful addition to the Aston Martin family, but it was sadly discontinued after 18 months of production. Being slotted between the DB9 & DBS ended up being the death of the car, as both enthusiasts and potential buyers were confused by its placement in the lineup. It was good while it lasted though.
I love all the Astons, but the Vantage caught my eye in a special way. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I gravitated towards it the most of all the cars. Maybe it was the blue?
The next set of cars on display were supplied by San Francisco's Academy of Art University. Their collection is fairly extensive, and includes some extremely rare vehicles, such as this Pierce Arrow.
I don't think I'll ever get over how humongous some classic and collector cars can be, even by today's standards of a large vehicle. I believe this one is a Packard. Big and beautiful is an understatement.
In contrast to the large pretty cars, there were also a few quirky mini cars. This one is my favorite, it's called a Messerschmitt Kr175. It's a three-wheeled bubble car from Germany.
Good luck pronouncing the name of this one: Antibianchi Bianchina Trasformabile. It's actually based off the original Fiat 500 and was fitted with one the smallest Fiat engines produced. Not much is known beyond that, but gosh it's adorable! Kind of reminds me of the Mini Cooper, you know, back when it was actually mini.
You want iconic classic cars? You got em. The 1953 Jaguar XK 120 SE Roadster is one of the most coveted Jags ever created. This particular car has won several awards and appeared at many shows. It also stayed with its original owners throughout this time until just recently, as I learned from reading its plaque. I'm glad they were able to enjoy it until the end.
The vehicle pictured here needs no introduction, the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SL, known as The Gullwing. I would've loved to see it with the doors open, but I can't possibly complain. Doors open or not, it's truly gorgeous. You can easily see the resemblance between it and the new SLS.
Now this is something I've never seen before, a 1953 Nash Healey. Apparently the car was the product of a partnership between Donald Healey and Nash-Kelvinator CEO George W. Mason, who met aboard a ship crossing between the United States and England. The design provoked a " love it or hate it" response, but we can at least agree that it's highly unique.
Although I didn't take many pictures of the 2013 production model cars, I got a few photos of the ones I found most interesting. BMW's are not my favorite, but there are a few models I genuinely admire. The new M6 is one of them. I've always liked the 6 series, and now that BMW stepped it up a notch, I like it even more.
When Hyundai first produced the Veloster, I didn't know what to think. It was a funny little car with a concealed third door on its right side and a bug-like face that I wasn't convinced would get very far, yet they're now producing a turbo version! And I dig it.
Tesla's Model S has been getting all kinds of attention lately, but let's not forget the car that started it for them: the Roadster. A truly sporty electric car was unheard of before Tesla developed the Roadster and challenged that idea. The roadster is super light-weight, can go up 243 miles on a single charge. Green technology that looks good? Yes please!
How could I not get a photo of the FR-S? Even though they're becoming a common sight for me, I can't get enough of them. I also took the time to sit inside this one and I honestly didn't want to get out. I could've taken one out for a test drive at the show, but both the manual and the automatic were fully booked. Guess I'll have to go to a dealership, oh well. There was also a BRZ, but there were so many people around it I couldn't get a photo. I'm sure I'll be forgiven though :) They are twins after all.
Finally, I'll end with the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG at the entrance to the show. I decided to double back to get better photos because it had been so popular earlier in the day. By 9:30pm, nearly everyone was gone, and I got a rare opportunity as things were closing down.
I GOT TO SIT IN IT! Being in the driver's seat of a supercar is really amazing, I can't fully describe how it felt. All I know is, I could get used to it. Hopefully it becomes a regular thing in the future when I become super successful & finally get my Aston Martin? In the mean time, I can always look at this picture and remember what a great moment this was for me.
That's it for the S.F. Auto Show, hope you enjoyed it!