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Published: Friday, 2/8/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Greater Toledo Auto show lets buyers shop and compare, dream big

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Kim Riley of Temperance checks out a Toyota Avalon on opening day of the 2013 Greater Toledo Auto Show at the SeaGate Convention Centre. Ms. Riley said she usually attends the North American Auto Show in Detroit too, but Toledo’s set-up is better for people looking to buy a new vehicle.
Kim Riley of Temperance checks out a Toyota Avalon on opening day of the 2013 Greater Toledo Auto Show at the SeaGate Convention Centre. Ms. Riley said she usually attends the North American Auto Show in Detroit too, but Toledo’s set-up is better for people looking to buy a new vehicle.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Caty Marsh stood a few paces back from a bright white Dodge Charger, looking as if the car had somehow put her in a trance.

“I’m like in a dream bubble right now,” the 18-year-old from Swanton said.

The hypnotizing, high-powered Charger in question is one of the 160-plus vehicles on display at the 2013 Greater Toledo Auto Show at the SeaGate Convention Centre downtown. For Ms. Marsh, the show was her first chance to sit in the car of her affection.

While she and boyfriend Colin Breeding were just enjoying the day and checking out the show, others came with a purpose.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2013 Greater Toledo Auto Show

The annual auto show, which opened to the public Thursday, doesn’t have the same glamour as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but it also doesn’t have smothering crowds, long lines, and parking issues.

And it’s not really meant to be the same kind of show. Detroit is more a place where the automakers can show off their newest and coming wares to the automotive press, and people can marvel at cars they’ll never be able to afford.

Toledo is a show aimed at buyers and giving people a chance to thoroughly check out cars they might actually put in their garage.

One of those tire-kickers Thursday was Richard Schneider.

Mr. Schneider is in the market for a new set of wheels. He has five or six cars on his list, including the Volkswagen Passat, Subaru Forester, and Chevrolet Equinox. And the auto show gave him a chance to see several vehicles in one place.

“It’s better than going around in the cold on a snowy lot,” Mr. Schneider said.

By the time he left the show, the Oregon man hoped to have his list narrowed to two or three vehicles.

Frank, left, and Lisa Keating, of Florida, examine the interior of the 2013 Dodge Charger with their grandson Kaemon, 19 months, who’s sitting on the lap of his father, Derek Eisel of Toledo. Frank, left, and Lisa Keating, of Florida, examine the interior of the 2013 Dodge Charger with their grandson Kaemon, 19 months, who’s sitting on the lap of his father, Derek Eisel of Toledo.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Helping him on his search was his 12-year-old grandson, Andrew Muir.

“He’s never been to one,” Mr. Schneider said. “He didn’t know what to expect. We walked in, and he said, ‘Jeez!’ ”

Dealers like the show because it can help them catch the eye of someone who might not otherwise have paid much mind to their brand.

The father-daughter duo of Dave and Jessica Buehler said they both were surprised with what they saw at Mazda’s booth.

“We kind of had a bias against it, but sitting over there we really liked it,” Mr. Buehler said.

The new and redesigned 2014 Mazda 6 helped with that. So did a bright-red Miata convertible.

“I liked the [Chevrolet] Cruze, if I was actually going to get one,” Jessica said. “But dream car? The Miata. Definitely.”

The show has a few dream-worthy cars, including other drop-tops from Ford, Lexus, and Audi, and a new Lincoln MKX hybrid that gets 47 miles per gallon. There’s also a 60th anniversary Corvette ZR1, and a menacing 580-horsepower Camaro ZL1.

That was the car that drew Gary Hauter’s attention. Mr. Hauter, who came from Findlay for the show, drove Camaros for 14 years. He bought his last in 2002, which was the final model year until Chevrolet revived the muscle car for the 2010 model year.

With him was Scott Koch, who also lives in Findlay and works in Toledo. He’s about two years out from buying a new car, and his top priority is fuel economy.

Right now, he has a 2009 Honda Civic hybrid that gets up to 48 mpg. “I love it,” Mr. Koch said. “I love the gas mileage, and I don’t want to go any lower than what I’m doing now.”

He checked out the new Ford Fusion hybrid, which he didn’t think would do quite as well as his Civic.

“It’s a little bigger than mine, but I’m still looking for something at least what I’m getting now or more,” he said. “I like the [Chevrolet] Volt, but I don’t think I want to pay that much.”

The show runs through Sunday. Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at: tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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