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A Really Big Show

The Karma Hybrid Outlook

The 2012 Buffalo Auto Show

In more than 60 cities across the country, the annual auto show is to car buffs as the Super Bowl is to football fans, the World Series is to baseball fans, and the presidential debates are to comedy buffs.

For more than 100 years, the Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association has been putting on a show in or around the city of Buffalo, and this year the tradition lives on.

I’ve been a fan of the four-wheeled machines since I was a kid. My father took me to my first show in 1963 at the Masten Avenue Armory, where I made a pest of myself sitting in every car (behind the wheel, of course) and collecting every brochure (now I wished I saved them). The first Buffalo show was held at the Statler Towers and featured a dozen or so different makes and models. Over the years the location has changed, but the purpose of the show hasn’t: Get a bunch of cars together in one place, where it’s nice and warm and dry in the middle of winter, and invite the public to look around. It’s a show after all, not a mega-sales event. Although the show is staffed by employees of local dealerships, they are not there to try to sell you a car. It’s not even allowed, so the pressure’s off for you to browse at your leisure.

Since moving to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, it has become the venue’s largest annual event. And this year should continue the tradition.

In the dark days of the auto industry, which if you’ve forgotten were just a few short years ago, manufacturers were reluctant to commit many resources (like cash) to auto shows. Even the Detroit show, which is the industry’s big showcase, looked pretty sparse in 2009 when I was there. But, as the NFADA’s Trey Barrett recently told me, “Manufacturers are now committing more to the shows again. There’s more technology in the displays.”

It can be difficult for cities like Buffalo to bring in the big guns for the show, as we’re competing with so many other towns who hold their show in the same time frame, but Barrett was confident that there will be some exciting things to see at this year’s show—like the Fiskar Karma Hybrid sports car (pictured above; Ashton Kutcher’s character drives one on Two and a Half Men) and the Toyota Camry, which will be the first Japanese pace car for the Daytona 500.

Why, you may ask, is the Buffalo show always held in the dead of winter? Who wants to go out in this weather? Barrett said that the dealers are up for it. “There’s a significant spike in sales after New Year,” he told me, “and the show ignites the spring buying season.” Showgoers must agree, as they’ve been trudging downtown for years.

And not just to see the new cars. A highlight of the show has always been the “one-offs” or concept cars. Often indicative of future models, concept cars have always been popular at the shows. As are early arrivals of next year’s models (like the 2013 Dodge Dart, which may make an appearance), the local GM Powerplant and Ford Stamping Plant exhibits, and many other local and out-of-town booths showing a bevy of car-related products and services. This year, Buffalo Sabres’ forward Nathan Gerbe and goaltender Jhonas Enroth will appear on Thursday, along with former Buffalo Bills great Andre Reed; and Captain America will be there Saturday and Sunday, along with the Fisher-Price Rescue Heroes. A number of local radio and television programs will also originate from the show floor.

So whether you’re actually shopping, or just looking, stop in at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, February 8-12. Visit for times and updates.

Read more from Jim Corbran as he posts updates from the Auto Show on Artvoice Daily.

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