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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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April 12-15, 2006:
New York International Auto Show

On a nice evening in Times Square this sure beats a cab

What do ZAP!, ZZ Top and the New York International Auto Show have in common? As reported in recent editions of AutoMatters, ZAP! invited me to drive one of their SMART cars from California to New York, which culminated with my car being put on display on the floor of the New York International Auto Show. Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top fame was there too, and I got to meet him.


Of course no trip to New York City would be complete without seeing some sights, so I did as much of that as I could.

Me leaving ZAP! in Northern California and in the Javits Convention Center, New York City

Perhaps ZAP should have left my car in its as-driven cross-country condition. The road grime from a week’s hard use was sort of a badge of courage, visual evidence of the difficulty of the task it so ably helped me to accomplish. Especially from the front, my little SMART car was quite a sight. I hardly recognized it on the show floor. It looked like new. Still, the never-ending stream of visitors at the show probably appreciated how clean it was to sit in and examine. I somehow felt compelled to join them, answer a few last questions and pose for a photo or two.

ZZ Top poster & Mazda Kabura concept

And what of ZZ Top? While at the show I attended a book signing by Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top. That event was sponsored by XM Satellite Radio. I’ll be the first to admit that other than in a TV commercial a few years ago, I really didn’t know much about Billy, ZZ Top or their music. But thanks to the autograph session and my receiving an autographed copy of Billy’s book “Rock+Roll Gearhead,” I now have an interest in seeking out the group's music and watching them perform. What fascinated me most about Billy’s book was page after page of photos of incredible custom guitars. Each one is different and incredibly creative. The fact that I can barely play a guitar is irrelevant. These are works of art and can be appreciated for that fact alone. I strongly recommend his book. Oh yes, and there are cars in it too. Can you believe it? I’m a consummate car nut and yet I was more interested in the guitars than the cars. Imagine that.

Horsepower and entertainment, New York City style

The way I prefer to cover the glitz and strong visual excitement of an automobile show is mostly through my photos. While I can show many more online than in the newspapers, there are still limits beyond which the pages take too long to open -- even with a high speed Internet connection. I'll try to select the best ones for you, along with shots from New York City. Without further delay, here we go. Enjoy.

New York City and show banners at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

2006 Kia Sorento & Land Rover E-Terrain Technology concept

VW GTI and a "Fast"

Good ways to get around NYC

One of the most creative presentations to the Press at this year's show was put together by the folks at Jeep. We were gathered outside and issued waterproof ponchos. In front of us was a huge pile of dirt. I assumed that a Jeep would try to climb up and over the dirt, and the ponchos were to protect us from flying clods of the brown stuff. Boy, was I wrong. I'll let this sequence of photos tell the story.


Was that clever or what?

If that wasn't already dramatic enough to get some Press ink, they also presented "Camp Jeep NY," where people could get challenging off-road rides in Jeeps.

Ultra-luxurious new Lexus LS 600hL

Colorful ZAP! Obvio 828 Trybrid (gas, electric or alcohol) prototype with license plate from Brazil

Times Square

Chevy Camaro & Dodge Challenger concept cars

Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec

Clean and green: Ford Escape Hybrid New York taxi

Lamborghinis & sumptuous Spyker interior

Shelby GT-H Hertz edition rental Mustang & Parnelli Jones edition Saleen 302 Mustang

CNN was at the show to report on the SMART cars

John Cooper and a very special works Mini

Nissan Urge concept with see-through hood

Scion Fuse concept

This year's edition of the New York International Auto Show has now ended, but the fun is not quite over. The last I heard, ZAP! is planning to send drivers back to California in the SMART cars too. Be sure to cheer on the new batch of drivers and read all about their trip at

So long from Times Square, NYC

As always, please share your stories and send your comments to Enjoy the archives and more at Drive safely and do join me again next time.


Copyright © 2006 Jan R. Wagner – #189 AutoMatters

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