The North Texas Auto Show:
REVVING IN PLACE
“The North Texas Automotive Dealers Association is proud to announce this year’s North Texas Auto Show,” said Carl Sewell III, Chairman of the association. “We look forward to welcoming visitors to this year’s show and demonstrating the latest technology, impressive horsepower, and superior styling that are available in the 2023 and 2024 models.”
It was in 1981 that the Dallas-area New Car Dealers Association launched its counter to the long-running State Fair of Texas Auto Show. I’d guess there were a multitude of reasons for wanting its own get-together, but near the top would have been a spring date, kicking off the new car selling season. And with its own show, of course, the association would control both the event and those monies made from its success.
The first auto shows were at Dallas’ Market Hall, a venue well-suited to an AutoRama, less appropriate for new car displays; it didn’t take long for the show to move to the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center. Not unlike other regional shows, the Dallas show played to its strengths, was reasonably successful at concealing its weaknesses, and its organizers never seemed worried when failing to meet the expectations of either Dallas enthusiasts or the area’s well-heeled luxury buyers. And it sure-as-hell wouldn’t meet the expectations of well-heeled enthusiasts; they were looking for the concepts and national debuts seen in Detroit, New York and Los Angeles.
Of course, expectations are reset post-Covid, and I’ll give any public offering at least a partial pass; most auto shows were simply canceled during the pandemic, and the revivals are – at best – problematic. But in a metropolitan area boasting one of this country’s most affluent demographics, you’d hope those typically supporting an auto show – you know, the automobile manufacturers – would be there. While many OEMs are showing up in Dallas, a great many aren’t. And while having a media pass precludes buying a ticket, unless I find myself actively in the market – with plans to make a new car purchase in the next year – I’m not sure I’d buy a ticket if only going for those new cars, trucks and SUVs on display.
Fortunately for the enthusiast – specifically, the Shelby enthusiast – there’s a celebration of what would be Carroll Shelby’s 100th birthday (January 11th) at this year’s auto show, presented by the Shelby Cobra Association of Texas. Shelby’s automotive history is, of course, well documented – but within that history is not only his birthplace in East Texas, but his lifetime connection, via family and real estate, to both Dallas and East Texas. According to Jeff Sol, president of the Shelby Cobra Association, the club will display roughly a dozen Shelbys, while we’d hope of few of those S.C.A.T. members in attendance might provide some context.
Beyond Shelby and, by extension, Ford, plan to see many of the industry’s big players, a few luxury names and an assortment of EVs, including – we’ll guess – new entries from Hyundai, Lexus and Toyota. There will also be an EV test track, which is worth your time if it takes no time in line – if it does, don’t stand for it! And to that point, there will also be street test drives outside of the Convention Center; for those of you wanting to do a ‘let’s see what this can do’ drive, Dallas County facilities (i.e., the lockup) are only a few blocks away.
Despite Mr. Sewell’s work on behalf of the New Car Dealers Association, Cadillac – synonymous with Sewell in the Dallas market for longer than I can remember – is a no-show. And were it not for the Avondale Premier Collection exhibiting some of its super-luxury inventory, those with money to spend would be spending it elsewhere.
I’m hoping Dallas’ show organizers can reignite the magic. At one of the industry’s most pivotal moments, it’d be nice to see everyone plugged in.