My dad started taking me out of school to go to the Toronto Auto Show when I was in grade 4, and I’ve only missed 3 years since (not counting COVID cancelling it for another 2 years).
-When I first started going, I would race around gathering every brochure and poster that was available. They eventually all got thrown in the recycling bin, but it was fun to look at the pictures. I can still remember the smell of those glossy pages.
-We used to stop my the Mazda booth to talk to my uncle. He worked at Mazda Canada head quarters and would volunteer to work a couple days at the show. It was really cool to get to see him and here stories about setting up the show or what he had seen during the pre-show media days.
-Walking around the show you had to be careful of getting shocked in the luxury vehicle exhibits. Jaguar had some especially thick carpet in their booth and when you walked on it and then touched a car you’d get zapped.
-One year, when the New Beetle had just come out, VW brought an actual plastic injection molding machine into the show and was pumping out little Beetle shaped pencil holders. Supposedly the plastic that was being used was actually ground up defective lenses from rear Beetles. The next year they had the same machine but they were all translucent blue Beetles.
-Another year, Dodge was an official Olympic sponsor, and they had the bed of a pick up truck full of little Olympic pins that you could help yourself too.
-GM used to have an engineer/technician tearing down and assembling a Corvette Z06 engine live during the show. He would point out key features and you could ask him questions. GM also had a Hot Wheels vending machine one year to celebrate a Camaro/Hot Wheels anniversary. I was an avid Hot Wheels collector as a kid, so I was stoked to try my luck at winning a free special edition Hot Wheel (I won a regular one, but a free Hot Wheel is still a free Hot Wheel)!
-In 2017, Mazda brought their early production FD RX-7 (my dream car), their original Cosmo/110s and a mint NA Miata. All three were displayed on a stage and it was really neat to see some of Mazda’s historic collection.
-Also in 2017, I happened to eat lunch across from some of the hosts of Driving Television (a Canadian TV car program based out of British Columbia). I didn’t bother them though because they were there working and deserved a peaceful lunch break.
-My wife and I learned not to go to the Auto Show on the weekends, because families bring their kids for something to do, or to do research. One year we saw a bunch of young kids standing on the seats of an Audi R8 convertible, jumping up and down on the leather seats in their salt-crusted winter boots.
Chevrolet lugs a cutaway of the new Z06's engine to every show, but tearing down the whole car is certainly on another level. Being able to see the suspension, the driveline, and the body in all its various states of assembly? Sign me up.