The 2012 Philadelphia Auto Show

In January 2012, I was a little less than a year into my new job as Product Training Director for the company which operated the www.CARiD.com website. At that time, our company only sold accessories (exterior, interior, performance, lighting, audio, and wheels) for cars and trucks. The repair parts side of the business was still a few years away. When training our sales staff, my responsibilities included teaching them what was new in the industry. Rather than wait until April for the NY Auto Show, I decided to head to Philadelphia for their show, always held in the January/February timeframe.

The location was familiar to me; I had been to this show in the past as part of my work with Volvo. This time, I cajoled my wife into joining me (under the guise of “we should look for a new car for you, honey!”) and she semi-reluctantly agreed. The drive into Center City Philly was only an hour, and parking in a nearby garage was easy enough. I should not have been surprised, but I was, that the place was jammed with attendees on a Sunday afternoon.

What the Pennsylvania Convention Center lacked in glitz compared to Manhattan’s Javits Center was made up in substance. Floorspace was not consumed by rotating tables, cutaways, never-to-be concept cars, and artificial landscapes. Instead, the vehicles were neatly arrayed, close to each other but not so close that one couldn’t open and close doors and get good three-quarter views. A huge additional benefit (for me anyway) was the side show consisting of “classic cars” with no particular rhyme or reason to the collection.

Pickup trucks, normally not my main interest, were a focus because much of the accessorization sold on CARiD is for pickups. I rarely photograph Monroney labels, however, the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 pickup grabbed all my attention. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see an MSRP, after options, of $62,000! Little did I realize that ten years ago, I was witnessing the start of the trend whereby overloaded luxury-laden 4×4 pickup trucks would displace luxo-barge American and imported four-door sedans as Americans’ choice for ultimate comfort and convenience. (Visiting the build-and-price function on Chevy’s website allowed me to recreate this truck as a 2022 model, and today’s price is $75,000, if you can find one.)

Returning from the show armed with photos, I created a slide presentation for my internal training class to bring our young and inexperienced sales staff up to speed. (I didn’t bother showing them the DeSoto.) The Philadelphia Auto Show, this year in March, continues to be a viable alternative for New Jerseyans who would rather avoid the trek into the Big Apple.

 

 

What’s that wire coming out of the fuel filler? Customers in 2012 were not yet used to seeing charging ports like on this Fisker Karma, which was beautiful but ahead of its time.

The 2012 Fiat 500 was in its 3rd year of U.S. sales after returning to this market in 2010. This is the zippy Abarth version.

 

And to remind us how far it’s come, here is the previous 500

 

Subaru showed its new BRZ, which had just been introduced a month prior
The BRZ’s grandfather, the XT, was also on display

 

Here is the 2012 Lexus LFA, with an MSRP of $375,000 (take that, Silverado!). According to Wikipedia, a total of 52 units were sold in the U.S. in 2012.

 

Many of the classics on display were on loan from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. From the top: A Nash-Healey roadster; a 1969 Camaro Yenko; a 1956 DeSoto; and a Series III Jaguar E-Type (note the flared fenders and long doors indicating a Series III, but with retro-fitted covered headlamps).

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.