The GMC sign receives a final polishing as part of the preparation for today’s opening of the Toledo Auto Show at SeaGate Convention Centre. A line of Ford vehicles sits at the right.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
This year's Greater Toledo Auto Show has some unexpected muscle, thanks to Chrysler Group's high-performance SRT brand.
The automaker brought two of its $102,000 Vipers — one in adrenaline red, one in black venom — as well as the 182-mph SRT Challenger and the 470 horsepower SRT Grand Cherokee. Organizers of the annual show said the Vipers were a last-minute surprise.
Speed junkies can also check out the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible, the 2014 Ford Mustang GT convertible, and the Mazda Miata convertible when the show opens to the public today at SeaGate Centre downtown.
The open-air cars might make for a nice escape from reality.
On Wednesday, snow was piled several feet high on Jefferson Avenue just outside SeaGate Centre as city employees in tractors and dump trucks worked to clear the blanket of snow that all but shut down Toledo.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos of an auto show preview.
Luckily for organizers, the timing of the storm shouldn't hurt the show.
Dan Zinni, a spokesman for the Toledo Auto Dealers Association, said the displays were brought in on Monday and the cars were delivered on Tuesday. All that had to be done on Wednesday were some last-minute detailing, tire shining, and wiring up the headlights to bring the cars to life. Organizers expect everything to be ready to go today.
Media were given a sneak peek ahead of the annual Cars are the Stars charity gala. That event was expected to raise between $200,000 and $250,000 for children's charities and scholarship programs.
The show features 25 brands, including Acura, Audi, BMW, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Scion, Subaru, and Volkswagen. Organizers say a total of 126 cars are on display.
There are two Toledo-built Jeep Cherokees at the show. Show-goers will have the opportunity to see the off-road Trailhawk package, as well as one in Latitude trim. Jeep also has a Toledo-built Wrangler on display.
■ WHEN: Today through Sunday.
■ HOURS: 3 to 9 p.m. today, noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
■ WHERE: SeaGate Convention Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave, Toledo.
■ PARKING: Free parking Saturday and Sunday at the Port Lawrence Garage at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and St. Clair Street.
■ COST: Adults, $6; students, $4; children 12 and under, free. Friday from noon to 5 p.m., seniors age 55 and up, $4.
Most cars and trucks on display are 2014 models, but there are a couple of 2015 model year vehicles on the show floor. The 2015 GMC Yukon and the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe are at the Toledo auto show. The two closely related SUVs made their public debut in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The vehicles aren't yet on sale.
Audi also has its 2015 A3 sedan at the Greater Toledo Auto Show. The new, small Audi starts at just under $30,000.
Other models worth noting include the sleek Audi A7 and the new 2014 model year Chevrolet Silverado, which won North American Truck of the Year.
The show is sponsored by The Blade and Huntington Bank.
Richard Porrello, executive vice president and director of Huntington Auto Finance, said auto shows help dealers and can be beneficial to consumers, because many companies offer auto show incentives.
“It's really always a bright spot for us when the auto shows start,” he said.
Mr. Porrello said the fact that banks are willing to extend credit and an average age of more than 11 years for cars on the road point toward another good year for auto sales.
A recent Midwest survey by the bank found that 20 percent of consumers are considering buying a vehicle this year.
“We feel like the market is very ripe for continued growth in this business,” he said.