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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Oct 31, 2003

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

(John Grafman photo)



If the events surrounding the economy, the Iraq War, and the War on Terrorism have negatively impacted the automotive industry, it wasn't readily evident at the California International Auto Show. The press was there and attendance was high. Moreover, Southland consumers continue to purchase cars in record numbers.

The North American debut of the Lamborghini Gallardo

It wasn't that long ago when the Anaheim auto show was a mere showcase for Orange County car dealers. It's still a showcase for the dealers, but it has grown in ways that the organizers could not have imagined. First, the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association and the Long Beach-based Southland Motor Car Dealers Association decided to combine the Long Beach and Anaheim shows. Their combined venture was cleverly renamed the California International Auto Show. Then the Anaheim Convention Center (site of the California International Auto Show) underwent extensive remodeling and expansion. The changes are now completed, and Anaheim now has a facility to rival the Los Angeles Convention Center

The Chevrolet SS concept car (John Grafman photo)

Simultaneously, the presence of automobile manufacturers in the region kept expanding. Southern California in general and Orange County in particular has become a center for automotive design studios and brand headquarters. The number of studios and headquarters now exceeds two dozen (and counting). The most significant automotive presence has been the establishment of the Premiere Automotive Group by Ford Motor Company. PAG represents the high end of Ford products. Consequently, all of the Ford-owned prestige companies, Jaguar, Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo, are now situated in PAG headquarters in Irvine, California .

Motor Trend design contest winners

Not insignificant to the show was the acquisition of Liberty Productions (which produced 15 other car shows across the country) by EMAP Petersen Inc. EMAP is the parent company of Motor Trend, Hot Rod, CAR, Max Power, Super Street, and a host of other car magazines. For the past five years, Motor Trend has been using the California International Auto Show as its venue for unveiling the Sport Utility Vehicle of the Year. Motor Trend's involvement also extends to the show's design contest, which includes entries from amateurs, design students, and professionals from all four corners of the world.

North American debut of the VW Phaeton (John Grafman photo)

This year's show took place from October 29th through November 2nd, and had the usual line up of 2004-model vehicles, 2005 pre-production models and concept cars. The show also served as the venue for the introduction of the upscale Volkswagen Phaeton. Volkswagen had to have been pretty pleased with this show, since it also served as the venue for Motor Trend magazine to announce the Sport Utility Vehicle of the Year: The Volkswagen Touareg.

Phaeton ride 'n drive at the CIAS

The Beverly Hills community (or is that the Newport Beach community?) was well-represented, with the show's Exotic Car Display. This display features several Lamborghinis, including the new Lamborghini Gallardo (another North American debut). For the fifth year in a row, Motor Trend brought its International Design Contest to the CIAS. The winning entries were prominently displayed at the show.

For more details about the show, visit the show site at

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