Hot cars rev enthusiasm at the 2015 Buffalo Auto Show

Thursday, February 5, 2015Back to News ▸

 

Auto Show 2011 - Photo Credit: Joe Cascio

For anyone weary of this long, gray winter, here comes the Buffalo Auto Show with its flood of colorful cars.

The four-day event opened Thursday and seems blessed with good timing. New car sales are up. Super Bowl ads last weekend pumped up new vehicles. Gas prices are down. And the average age of cars on the road is about 10 years old, which could mean trade-ins are coming.

The annual show, organized by the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association, features about 275 vehicles. Forget the winter-dulled, salt-stained look of cars heading down Franklin Street – all the cars and trucks packed into the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center are in pristine condition, enticing visitors to slide behind the wheel.

Joe Nowak of Amherst and Nick Swartz of West Seneca looked ready to rev up the red Chevrolet Camaro they were sitting in, if only it wasn’t parked on the second floor and surrounded by other cars.

Nowak drives a 2008 Scion XD, with 186,000 miles on the odometer, so he is in the market to buy. “I’ve never had a problem with it,” he said. “I love Scions, so I’m probably going to go that way when I buy a new car this summer.”

Swartz just bought a Volkswagen Jetta, but sounded like he could be talked into a trade-in. “You always want the new, best thing,” he said.

And Swartz loves cars, so the auto show is the place to be. “I like sitting in them, dreaming, things you can’t afford,” he said.

Part of the show’s appeal is getting an up-close view of those luxury cars, and marveling at their sticker prices. A $136,000 BMW i8. A $189,000 Porsche 911. A $152,000 Maserati convertible.

But the show also caters to the practical. Chris Donner of Williamsville was with his son, Noah, 5, his brother-in-law Leo Mazur, and Mazur’s daughter, Michaela, 10. The kids were scrambling into the back of a Honda Pilot.

Donner was looking for something that would fit his family of five, since his current ride is “getting too small.” Donner was keen on an SUV with four-wheel drive to handle the winter, and a third-row back seat.

Mazur put himself in the “just looking” category. “My truck is over 12 years old, but it’s hanging in there, so far,” he said.

Even though Mazur wasn’t looking for something to buy, he enjoys getting a feel for vehicles in the show’s relaxed format. “You can get in it without having a salesman run at you before you’re even in the door,” he said.

Michelle and Tim Loucks were considering possible replacements for her Ford Focus, which has 120,000 miles on it. Michelle Loucks liked the Fords, Kias and Hondas; their 5-year-old son, Cooper, pointed enthusiastically at the Land Rovers.

“We base our cars on the mileage and how much we can get out of them, because once we have a car – some people trade them in continuously – we like to run ours into the ground, because why would you keep making a payment if you don’t have to?” she said.

Car dealers like Peter DeLacy of DeLacy Ford in Elma love the enthusiasm the show generates in the dead of winter.

“There’s a lot of pent-up excitement in the market,” he said. “When the sun’s out, the showroom’s full. So we’re really looking for a strong spring. And let’s face it, the auto show being early in February, it’s like the St. Patrick’s Day of the car business. Everybody looks forward to it, everybody has a good time, sees all the great products, and then comes to the showroom and buys them.”

The new Ford F-150, with its aluminium body, dominates Ford’s display. The Ford Dealers of Western New York even set up a small theater with an F-150 inside. RPM Entertainment Productions created a high-tech presentation, which is unique to Buffalo’s auto show. Using technology called projection mapping, the truck appears to change colors and roll through different weather conditions.

“It’s something dynamic and unusual,” said Reed Rankin, president of RPM. “Everybody goes to a car show, you can see a car sitting there. And it’s fun to walk up and see in person; it’s a whole different thing to see it actually interacting with the environment, as though it’s in motion.”

The F-150 has a local connection: the stamping plant in Woodlawn makes 18 or 19 parts for the truck, and ships them to assembly plants in Michigan and Missouri, said Bill Kirk, the Woodlawn plant’s controller.

“It’s such a high-volume product, it represents about 15 percent of our business at that plant,” Kirk said. The locally made parts go into the “guts” of the truck’s frame and body, he said.

“Getting the F-150 work into Buffalo is a big deal for Buffalo,” he said. “It’s meant a lot of jobs, it’s meant a lot of investment, and it’s a good thing for the future of Buffalo stamping.”

 

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