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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 16, 2004

On auto pilot, from A to Z

 •  Life is a highway

By Derek Paiva
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

One of the cars to be featured at the First Hawaiian International Auto Show will be the 2004 Nissan 350Z roadster.

Gannet News Service photos

First Hawaiian International Auto Show

Noon-10:30 p.m. today

10 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday

10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

Hawai'i Convention Center

$7 (13 and older), $5 (62 and older, military with ID), $4 (ages7-12), free (6 and younger)


First off, my biggest peeve about the annual First Hawaiian International Auto Show: locked cars.

There's nothing worse, really, than having a dream — in my case, sitting behind the wheel of an Acura NSX, closing the door on the cacophony of the Hawai'i Convention Center and pretending I'm on the autobahn — squelched by something as cruelly unfair as a locked car door.

"Sit in the RSX!" the friendly Acura representative suggests, cheerfully.

Yeah, thanks, dude. Why don't you try taking the bus to work?

Still, there's no better place than the auto show — now in its 26th year, and presented by Motor Trend magazine — to scout out your future wheels without the hassle of someone threatening to order Papa John's just to keep you and your good credit in the showroom.

Go ahead, kick the tires. Imagine which SUV will make you the coolest soccer dad in Mililani. Measure how many inches you'll have to drop that Nissan Sentra to make sure it scrapes speed bumps post-modification.

You can even plant your rear in most of the vehicles. Promise.

So with all this in mind, here's an A-to-Z list of stuff you might appreciate knowing (plus a few things you might not) before heading for the convention center over the weekend.

See you near the locked Lotus.

Attendance. Total attendance of the auto show over its four days is a closely held secret. But a Motor Trend floor-traffic survey last year showed attendance split 50/50 between males and females. A 2000 floor-traffic survey had female attendance slightly edging male attendance, 51.57 percent vs. 48.43 percent.

By the numbers. More than 250 brand-spanking-new 2004 and 2005 vehicles from 35 international manufacturers will be on display.

Carpet. Four acres' worth will cover the floor of the convention center — the equivalent of four football fields. The blacktop design of the aisles — a black roadway complete with yellow centerline stripes — is copyrighted by Motor Trend. Guests walking the entire length of the carpeted roadway would traverse 1.5 miles.

Dr. Evil ... we're guessing, would pop a few of the buttons on his Nehru while checking out the car show's "Million Dollar" exotic car display, featuring unattainable-on-a-reporter's-salary rides from Lotus, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

Eh, what you was doing in 1978? Walter Dods Jr., then First Hawaiian Bank marketing director, was launching the first First Hawaiian Auto Show at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Now the bank's chairman of the board and chief executive, Dods (according to April's Honolulu Magazine, anyway) makes, like, $2 million a year. Coincidence? We think not.

Free parking? Dream on, Bo and Luke! It'll cost ya five bucks to park the General Lee (or whatever you're now driving) in the convention center.

"Get Moving With Ronald McDonald." At noon and 2 p.m. Sunday. Believe us, we're just as curious as you are.

The Toyota Prius, Motor Trend's 2004 Car of the Year.

The Chrysler Crossfire, with a boost from Mercedes-Benz.

A whole exhibit will be dedicated to this year's 40th birthday celebration of the Ford Mustang. Ford will even roll out a first-look concept model of the retro-leaning 2005 Mustang GT convertible.
The Honolulu Advertiser. Full disclosure: Yep, we're an auto show co-sponsor. Got the booth to prove it and everything.

It's tricky. Count yourself as one of those folks who feel any new car is crazy incomplete without a spoiler big enough to land the space shuttle? Visit the auto show's "tricked-out" sport compact display of expensively modified, competition-ready vehicles. Supras, Corvettes, Vipers, Mustangs and even a Subaru.

Just the car, not the driver. No. 7-ranked NASCAR Cup star Kasey Kahne won't be at the auto show, but his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge will. The 800-horsepower car has a top speed of 205 mph. It'll probably be locked, too.

Kubrick, Stanley. Not attending either. He's been dead since 1999. But Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey — nominated for a best supporting actor Golden Globe award in 1986 for his brilliant portrayal of the prayer-leading, butt-kicking, four-letter-word swearin' sadist Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket" — will be. Ermey will sign autographs at 1-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Saturday. Don't taunt him about what his appearance at the show has to do with new cars, though, OK?

Like Steve McQueen ... How could you not appreciate a whole exhibit dedicated to this year's 40th birthday celebration of the Ford Mustang? Members of the Aloha Mustang and Shelby Club of Hawaii showcase their vintage rides; Ford contributes a first-look concept model of the retro-leaning 2005 Ford Mustang GT convertible.

Motor Trend. The First Hawaiian Auto Show's producer since 2000, the automotive magazine's event division also produces 17 similar international auto shows nationwide.

Nissan and Toyota's neighboring floor spaces ... the whole darn floor plan, and other auto show-related minutiae are available at www.hawaiiautoshow.com.

Omarosa appears at the Kia booth. Just kidding, "Apprentice" fans.

Promises, promises. Sixty-seven percent of auto-show attendees say they intend to purchase new vehicles within a year.

Queuing with dozens of other folks is so pre-World Wide Web. Purchasing e-tickets (in adult and child sizes) online allows you to skip freakishly long box-office lines. See "N" for Web URL.

Rugrats. Angelica and Chuckie show up to give the kids something to fixate on, 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday. And speaking of rugrats, children under 12 can check out the car show free (with a paying adult in tow) all day Sunday.

So why aren't the potholes getting filled any faster? Hawai'i residents bought a record 62,712 new vehicles in 2003, up 17.6 percent over 2002. The increase was the largest of all 50 states.

Truck of the Year, 2004. As judged by Motor Trend, the Ford F-150 pickup. The magazine's 2004 Car of the Year was the gas/electric hybrid Toyota Prius; its 2004 Sport/Utility Vehicle of the Year was the Volkswagen Touareg. You'll be able to touch all three at the auto show.

Uh, what the heck is a Touareg named after? According to Volkswagen, the SUV is named after a resilient nomadic African tribe famed for its survival skills in hostile natural environments. The Nissan Murano? Its name comes from an Italian town known for producing smooth glass. The Porsche Cayenne? Duh.

Very good cause. The Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association will donate $1 to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii for each redeemed auto show discount coupon picked up at McDonald's now through Sunday. The coupon gets you $2 off each adult admission.

What's the freakin' holdup up there? Lined up at a stop sign, all of the vehicles at the auto show would stretch just under one mile.

XJ. Jaguar's feature 2004 car-show model. Retailing for $59,300 to $74,400, another unattainable-on-a-reporter's-salary ride.

Yo, what kind of a deal you gonna give me on this fine Echo? Uh, we'll talk on Monday. The auto show is a no-sales-allowed environment. Sales representatives will give you all the free glossy auto brochures you want, though.

Z roadster. Nissan's 2004 convertible take on its 350Z is a great car and will be on display at the show. But, yes, all we really wanted was something that started with "Z" to end this list.

Reach Derek Paiva at dpaiva@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8005.

• • •

Life is a highway

To mark the centennial of the first U.S. cross-country automobile trip, a faculty member at Boston's renowned Berklee College of Music last year cobbled together an institution-approved list of the 50 all-time top driving songs.

We didn't agree with all of his choices — um, "Country Roads (Take Me Home)" by John Denver? Or glaring omissions — what, no "Gin & Juice" by Snoop Dogg or "Drive My Car" by The Beatles? Still, the list at least made for a handful of retro-dope mixed CDs.

Here are the top 10, in no particular order:

  • "409," Beach Boys (1963).
  • "No Particular Place To Go," Chuck Berry (1964).
  • "Born To Be Wild," Steppenwolf (1968).
  • "Crosstown Traffic," Jimi Hendrix (1968).
  • "American Pie," Don McLean (1972).
  • "Born To Run," Bruce Springsteen (1975).
  • "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," Meatloaf (1977).
  • "Highway To Hell," AC/DC (1979).
  • "On The Road Again," Willie Nelson (1980).
  • "I Can't Drive 55," Sammy Hagar (1984).

Read the rest of the Berklee list at www.berklee.edu/news/2003/05/drive50.html.