January 12, 2000
North American International Auto Show
Article and photos by Matt Daniels

This was my first time at the North American International Auto Show, and I must say that it was the most elaborate show I've ever been too. There were a lot of new concept vehicles and production cars debuted at this show. Overall, nothing really impressed me, except for one - and I'll go more into that later. We had planned to do more updates that this, but unfortunately, Neil McGarry had to cancel his trip to the show, without him there I had no way to download my digital photos or to even send emails. However, I did get to use some computers in the Media Room at the show and I was able to post a few messages on the News & Events forum.

Most likely, you have heard that Audi didn't really have any big news at the show. At the press conference, Audi of America Vice President Len Hunt recapped the amazing sales growth in 1999. Full details of Audi of America's sales history can be found in the Historic Model Guide section. After recapping the sales figures, the A8 L was introduced. It is the long-wheel base version of the A8. It is 5 inches longer than the current A8 and the extra length translates into an extra four cubit feet for the rear passengers. Full specs and information about the A8 L will be on our site shortly, for more information you can read the press release from the show.

Since the TT Roadster was officially debuted last week at the LA Motorshow, not much was said about it. There was one on display and it is very cool. It was equipped with the new rear spoiler, and like many others have said, it's not quite as offensive in person. The 225 hp Coupe they had on display also had the new rear spoiler. The TT Roaster and 225 hp versions will be on sale this spring.

Other items that were announced during the press conference:

  • The creation of Audi Sport North America and the announcement that Audi will be entering the American LeMans Series. The first race will be at Sebring in March. The R8 from last year's 24 hours of LeMans was on display and will be the car used at Sebring - it will be the only race the R8 will be in, a new car will be competing in the rest of the series.

  • It was announced that we can expect to see more S models in the future. Nobody would elaborate on what they could be, but I think it's safe to say that it will probably be the S6 sedan and possibly the S4 Avant or S8.

  • The A6 All Road quattro was not at this show, but it was told that we could expect to see it on American soil by the end of the year - probably at the New York Auto Show.

    I was able to ask around about other things, specifically Avant versions of the A6 4.2 and 2.7T. I spoke with AoA's Product Planning Manager Marc Trehan and he told me that it was unlikely that these would come to America. Others have reported conflicting information than what he told me, I'll let the reader's form their own conclusions on what it all means. By May when dealers start to receive the order codes for the 2001 models we should then be able to find out what it in store for the year 2001.

    That was pretty much it for Audi, as you can see from some of the photos, their booth is pretty impressive. I was told that all the triangular shaped glass panels were cut on location. Pretty impressive.

    For the rest of the show, it was big and elaborate. There were a few cool new concept cars, like the Dodge Maxx pickup truck, the Jeep Varsity, the VW pickup concept and a few others, but nothing really stood out - except one and that was the Chrysler PT Cruiser.

    Chrysler GT Cruiser concept

    Maybe it was because I didn't sleep well the night before, or because I'm was starting to get the flu, but I found the PT Cruiser to be an amazingly cool car. I had seen pictures in the past, but they were nothing compared to the car in person. To actually be able to sit in it and to get an overall feel for it, I can honestly say that is going to be one hot car. To be honest, even a day later I'm still having impure thoughts of canceling the order for my 1.8T Avant (which just went into production) and getting a PT Cruiser instead. Say all you want about reliability, build quality, etc, but for a starting price of $16,000 (which includes the destination charge) and a fully equipped model still under $20k, I don't think there is anything like it for the money. There were also new concept versions of the PT Cruiser - the GT Cruiser and the Panel Cruiser, also very cool. Both these concepts are powered by a 200hp turbocharged 4 cyl. engine (the production version has a 150 hp 4 cyl engine).

    That's enough for my praise of the PT Cruiser, but if you get a chance to check out the show, make sure you stop by and take a look.

    Click here to view all the pictures that I took at this years North American International Autoshow.