I’m in an unusually good mood today and it’s not because I got to pet my neighbor’s dogs in the elevator this morning. It’s because the 2017 Geneva Motor Show is going on and it is hands down my favorite show. Here’s why.
Of all the big auto shows we cover during the year around here, Geneva unveilings are easily the most colorful and the most fun. The Los Angeles Auto Show has become a “mobility show,” whatever that means. The Detroit Auto Show, increasingly, features things like SUVs and crossovers that automakers hope will sell well. The New York Auto Show is pretty hit or miss in terms of what we get to see. The ones in China are a big deal, if you’re a Chinese car buyer.
It’s only been the first press day of the Geneva Motor Show, and already we’ve seen a new Lambo, a Civic Type R, the new McLaren supercar (!), Spyker and its new partnership, the reborn Alpine A110, an outrageous Brabus truck and Tata’s first performance car.
Are these the cars that are going to sell in droves and help the brand make a lot of money? Chances are not at all! But that’s not the point of these cars, though they tend to populate the majority of the Geneva show. They are the cars that we don’t necessarily need to own ever, but we can appreciate their existence.
Geneva is for the nonessential corner of the automotive industry—the corner that ends up on bedroom posters and tacked up on dorm room walls. The corner that draws eyes and attention at Cars and Coffee events and becomes desktop backgrounds. We can argue back and forth about whether or not supercars are stupid, but at the end of the day, the excitement they exude is what makes them great.
It’s also fun sometimes to have a tangible goal—that if we make enough money, one day we might be able to buy that Porsche or McLaren. Even if the car will always remain an abstraction, it’s fun to picture what we could get when the house is paid for and the kids are moved out. Indeed, most of us aren’t kids anymore, but thinking about and imagining what owning and driving these cars are like lets us daydream for a bit.
These are the cars that inspire fantasies, cultivate aspirations and instill wonder. And you know what? Having some wonder will always be a good thing. To see a huge wing and fat fenders and laugh about the ridiculousness of it all—whether you’re eight or 88—is kind of what brought most of us here in the first place.
We should hold onto that—the nonessentials that are still somehow essential to this whole thing.