Ever since I was a young boy, I've always looked forward to Easter time, not because of the guaranteed Silly Putty I would receive in my basket, but because that's when the New York International Auto Show would roll into town. It took over every floor of the Jacob Javits Center, all four levels of it, and then some. As a car guy, this was my kid in a candy store moment. Besides, who needs chocolate from an oversized rabbit?
My aunt would take me, and whoever was my best friend at the time, on the ferry and over to the complex. We would spend a few hours there, sit in cars we were too young to drive, and fill our Toyota bags with brochures from every manufacturer. And then, as sustenance for our ride back to NJ, we would stop and get a city pretzel. It was glorious.
I cherish those memories and relive them each year I attend the show. This year I was able to acquire media credentials thanks to this very site you're reading. It seems a new tradition has started with 2015: attending Media Day. This was not the first time I was privileged to view the show floors without public interruption. In 2006, I was granted access while interning at ForbesAutos. Anyway, back to 2015. In hindsight, I should have planned a bit better and made accommodations to hit BOTH days, as nine hours simply weren't enough. Live and learn.
My morning started as planned, although a bit of traffic put me on a boat 20 minutes later than originally scheduled. No matter, I still was walking through the doors at 8:00 a.m., having my pass validated and on my way downstairs to start my journey.
Let me pause for a moment.
I ride solo to events like these (and most events, actually now that I think about it), because my attention darts from left to right, up and down. I start with a set trajectory and almost immediately lose focus the moment something shinier catches my eye. This was no different. I had wandered down onto the truck floor, where men and women were making last minute adjustments to their respective maker's displays. The floors were still being laid, the carpets were being vacuumed (a futile task no doubt) and an overall feeling of chaos was blanketing the arena like a calming security quilt. This was what it was all about. Behind the scenes action.
There wasn't as many people as I thought there would be. Where is the media? I cut my exploration short and headed up to the main area - mostly passenger cars. And there I found my answer, along with breakfast spreads from Audi, Buick, Ford...you name it. Every manufacturer had a stage set up for their respective unveilings. The amount of "scenery" there was to take in was innumerable. I couldn't possibly expect myself to follow any sort of logical path and so set off without a map, letting my eyes guide me while putting my brain on autopilot.
I made my way through the crowd and began the self-appointed daunting task of capturing everything I saw with my camera. There were mounds of covered cars everywhere, like large quilted ant hills. Digital clocks counted down the minutes till that specific model made its 'world debut', even after being leaked onto the Internet several weeks earlier. Although most heavy hitters had something or other to show off, not many were major in my opinion. Granted, the NYIAS is the last stop on the auto show train. Nissan unwrapped a new Maxima, which is essentially a sedan version of the recently redesigned Murano. Mercedes followed Infiniti into the darkness and adopted a similarly confusing nomenclature for the former M-Class, which is now the GLE, both in standard SUV and "coupe" form. And attendees were treated to the revealing of the McLaren 570S.
I'm going to recall again attending the show as a an excited kid with a disposable Kodak camera. The one thing I always got a kick out of was sitting in as many new cars as time permitted. I can't remember the last time I tried to get that count up. Sure, last year I must have sat in the then-new MK7 GTI for a few solid minutes, on separate occasions, but this time around I was more focused (pun very much intended) on taking pictures than making memories. This is another thing I will be addressing next year. More...gasp...interaction with the men and machines. Let's continue on.
The journalists swarmed like bees from one unveiling to another, being directed along by workers holding signs with arrows. I figured, instead of taking the same stereotypical "guy talking in front of covered car while slowly uncovered said car" picture, I would take that opportunity to capture displays that were otherwise blocked by the media melee.
And it worked. I was able to circumnavigate the majority of the floor before it was time to duck out for another affair. You see, my friend Greg had reached out to me a few days prior to the show and asked if I'd like to attend an invite-only showing of Bentley's EXP 10 Speed 6 concept at a pop-up gallery in what I believe was SoHo. So you're asking if I want admission to see a one of one Bentley? The answer was a no-brainer. When the clock struck 3 p.m., it was time to pack my photo equipment and take a yellow cab to our next destination. Goodbye Javits Center, our time spent together clearly was too short.
Now, in rereading for typos, I noticed that my story didn't include many specifics. I didn't mention my favorite car, or who made the best espresso. I didn't highlight my disappointment with Volkswagen for an underwhelming display of colorful Beetles and a long overdue all-wheel-drive Golf SportWagen. Nor did I harp on the fact that I missed damn near half of the content because one truncated day was not nearly enough time to consume everything. I will say that I had a great time at my 'inaugural' media event and look forward to next year. I look forward to being more prepared, having a better game plan, and providing more coverage than is really necessary.