2010 Canadian International Auto Show
People have been celebrating the automobile since its creation over a century ago, and auto shows have been drawing gawkers like me since 1907. The automobile was essentially a replacement for walking. Until the late 1800s, people had been using their feet to get around, like a bunch of shmucks. Finally, in protest, some of them threw up their tired dogs, banded together and said, "It's time for a car!"
Most people think the car followed the horse & buggy, but few people realize that the horse was invented at the same time as the car. Old paintings of men riding horseback were merely horse-company propaganda, attempting to promote their less-than-efficient animal.
But it was a predominantly patriarchal society, specifically man's love of technology, that saw the car outsell the horse almost immediately. Some horse companies attempted to attract small children to their products by creating smaller versions, such as ponies. But children simply did not have the means to afford their own transportation and pony production slowed. Horses are now relegated to antique horse shows and one can find ponies and the ubiquitous "pony rides" at various fund-raising events and birthday parties.
I spent the final day of the Canadian International Auto Show wandering from manufacturer to manufacturer with my dad, and Subaru Canada's manager of Product Planning, who both preferred cars to horses.
Among some of my favourite displays were the Targa Newfoundland Nissan GT-R in bright pumpkin-orange, one lonely Tesla roadster plugged in and running, and the Cruise Nationals display, where a friend, Bob Train, had his 3rd place '51 Mercury on display.
Bob had his Mercury Monarch custom built from the ground up, bespoke in every respect. Power comes from a GM crate engine developing 502 hp. Inside, the Merc is outfitted in Cadillac STS upholstery, and includes a DVD/GPS system with multiple video screens. Bob originally considered a custom Clydesdale, but fitting the video screens to the back of the horse's head proved too difficult.
Another big draw at the auto show was the Mercedes-Benz display, and specifically, the new SLS. This one really drew the crowds, making photo-ops difficult and proving Gull-wings never seem to go out of style. I was a little disappointed in Mercedes' choice of displaying the car in red, but the car's proportions were a 10. See the SLS AMG here.
We stayed much longer than we anticipated despite the show's smaller size this year. As we exited, we passed through the Shelby display where a few million dollars worth of classic race cars were displayed.
Towards the end, we encountered one of the most spectacular cars of the show; the Ford Shelby GR-1 concept car, with an astonishing all-aluminum body. The overhead lighting glinted off the finger-printed body reminding me of my DeLorean in full sunlight. I was in awe. No offense to those in the paint business, but gorgeous pure metal is #1 in my books. It's cars like this that really put the hurt on the horse business.