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b6autoshow-1 James Watkins, 16, of Toledo photographs a Dodge Viper on the opening day of the auto show.
James Watkins, 16, of Toledo photographs a Dodge Viper on the opening day of the auto show.
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Published: Friday, 2/7/2014 - Updated: 6 months ago

Toledo auto show gets early rush of visitors

4x4s popular after snow; lines form for muscle cars

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

People check out the new models on display at the 2014 Greater Toledo Auto Show on Thursday. There are  25 brands, 126 ve­hi­cles, and 14 mo­tor­cy­cles to investigate. People check out the new models on display at the 2014 Greater Toledo Auto Show on Thursday. There are 25 brands, 126 ve­hi­cles, and 14 mo­tor­cy­cles to investigate.
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When Adam Stier walked into SeaGate Convention Centre downtown on Thursday for the opening of the 2014 Greater Toledo Auto Show, he had just one thing on his mind.

‘It’s amazing here,’ remarked Wayne Smith of Northwood. ‘It’s amazing here,’ remarked Wayne Smith of Northwood.
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“This year, I’m here for the trucks. The snow — it’s got me thinking about a 4-x-4,” the Toledo resident said.

Arriving for the opening day of this year’s show, Mr. Stier got an up-close peak at two of his favorite brands of 4x4 trucks, GMC and Chevy. “But the features on the Ford were nice as well,” he conceded.

And with 25 brands, 126 vehicles, and 14 motorcycles to see at this year’s show, Mr. Stier found it hard to focus solely on trucks. A half-hour into the show, he decided to get a feel for the inside of a new, cool, blue Jeep Wrangler Polar Unlimited Edition 4x4 SUV at the Chrysler display.

Being able to do that, he said, is what draws him to the Toledo auto show every year.

“It’s smaller, it’s more personable,” he said of the Toledo show. “I live in Toledo, so I guess I like the convenience factor as well, and parking is nice downtown. I usually come to compare and see what’s new with the models.”

Wayne Smith of Northwood was also drawn to the Toledo show by the prospect of getting a close-up look at new models and how vehicles are changing.

“I’ve always liked modern cars more than older cars. It’s amazing here,” he said after exiting a jet black Lexus LS460. “They all seem to have paddle shifters and screens and joysticks now. I like all that stuff.”

Like Mr. Stier, Mr. Smith had targeted some specific brands for close inspection. “I have two Mazdas, so we’ll definitely be looking at the Mazdas. And the Fords,” he said.

“My son was just hired today to sell cars at Yark Automotive, so maybe Nissans will have to go on our list too,” he added.

IF YOU GO

■ WHEN: Today through Sunday.

■ HOURS: Noon to 9 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 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 Jefferson Avenue and St. Clair Street.

■ COST: Adults, $6; students, $4; children 12 and under, free. Today from noon to 5 p.m., seniors age 55 and up, $4.

But with so many new 2014 and 2015 models to see, Mr. Smith found more to see than Mazdas, Fords, and Nissans.

“We checked out the new [Jeep] Cherokee,” he said. “It was pretty nice. I liked it.

“We got in it and the gas mileage is really nice on it and it wasn’t that expensive — $27,000 for the nonleather one,” he said.

While some visitors at Thursday’s opening spent time checking out SUVs, luxury cars, and various hybrids, many show-goers could not resist the siren song of Detroit’s finest muscle cars and were easily lured to the back of the convention center.

There, a line formed to await a turn to sit in a stylish 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible or a nearby Camaro, put one’s hands on the steering wheel, and dream while snapping a photo or two with a cell-phone camera.

“We have more cars and more manufacturers this year. It’s a better showcase, and people just love seeing all the new technology,” said Marie Gilman, manager of the auto show.

Although the show, which runs through Sunday, will be busiest this weekend, Ms. Gilman said she was surprised when nearly 150 people passed through the doors in the first hour Thursday.

“I’m very happy so far,” she said. “Usually on the first day there is no one here, but that isn’t the case today. I think people really wanted to get out after the snowstorm.”

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.



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