I’ve been to auto shows before. Well, technically, I’ve only been to one auto show before—the Washington D.C. Auto Show. And that, as everyone knows, isn’t the greatest. For instance, this year’s auto show didn’t have any major reveals, which gave me the opportunity to mindlessly walk around and take pictures of cars as I pleased. I put some of my photos on Twitter and Instagram when I was there, had a pretty carefree day and, while it wasn’t the best, I still enjoyed myself.
But I’ve always wondered—what’s a real auto show like?
Well I finally found out what it’s like to get to a real auto show and I have to say that it’s freaking stressful. First off, let me just explain the horrific basket case of travel that I had to endure to get to the New York. The New York Auto Show officially started on Tuesday 22nd when special guests (really big automotive outlets) were treated to reveals before anyone else. Regardless of how unfair that is, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be going, as I hadn’t heard anything on the matter. I was just told it might be a possibility.
On Tuesday the 23rd, I still hadn’t heard anything and with the auto show set to start on Wednesday morning, I put it out of my head. That is, until approximately 5 PM when my boss told me that I would be going and to book a bust ticket and an AirBnB. Upon hearing this news, I was thrilled, but also a little nervous as planning a trip to a different state in a few hours is a daunting task.
My girlfriend and I thought it over and decided that the opportunity was just too good to pass up. After a quick stop to Target and Best Buy, I booked my bus ticket and set in a reservation for an AirBnB. Unfortunately for me, the Auto Show started at 8 AM and the only bus that would get there in time would be leaving at 12:30 AM. So I set in for a long, long trip.
I arrived in New York City at 6 AM. I got exactly zero sleep on the bus and had to walk 30 minutes to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, but hey, some have it worse. When I got to the event, I was extremely surprised to see that other journalists were already there. The individuals working the event were still scrambling around to get things in order as things were already starting to pickup at 6:30 AM.
It looked like I wouldn’t be able to catch a break by getting some much-needed rest and settled in for the long day that lay ahead.
The New York Auto Show is massive. Like humungous. It’s three floors and two of them are the size of a football field—I’m pretty sure that’s right. It’s a massive, daunting place with thousands of cars to look at it. It’s a gearhead’s paradise on the right day, but a nightmare on the wrong day.
The first event for Wednesday was breakfast with keynote speaker and head of Nissan Carlos Ghoslin. Even before getting to New York, every journalist knew that Wednesday, the first press day, would be an excruciatingly long day. Every major automaker that planned on revealing a car did so that day and the schedule showed it. Plans for the first day were packed. From 8 AM to 4 PM, automakers were revealing cars with five-minute breaks in between to separate them.
While the auto show was sticking to a strict schedule, everyone was free to do what they wanted and the majority of cars were left uncovered, which is a rare thing. After getting a quick pep talk with my team, I was told to make a schedule of my own, which would have me getting to the reveals later than everyone else. This way, I could get clear shots of the vehicles without having to wait for everyone.
At the time, it sounded like a good idea. That is until I dealt with the auto show’s appallingly slow WiFi. With a list of cars that were labeled as a priority, I headed up to the first car, which happened to be the Mazda Miata MX-5 RF.
Unsurprisingly, the MX-5 RF was still swamped with people taking pictures of the sports car and some larger outlets were even attempting to take videos of the car. This is where I learned my first lesson: automotive journalists are ruthless. In an attempt to be one of the first outlets to have pictures of the vehicle, the journalists push their way through and assert themselves as the only one with the right to take pictures.
As I quickly found out, this gets annoying and results in photos with people sulking around in the back. Either way, I managed to get some decent photos of the MX-5 RF and tried to upload them wirelessly onto my camera. When this failed, I whipped out my laptop, as well as some wires to my camera and attempted to upload the pictures manually.
It may have been the insane amount of people at the convention or the lack of preparation, but the WiFi at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was atrocious. Like, a crowded house at Starbucks bad. I now had to scramble to get pictures of other major reveals—Audi R8 Spyder, Nissan GT-R, Lincoln Navigator Concept, etc.—and then sprint to the media center, which was a lengthy walk away, to upload the photos. Couple this to the fact that it was at least 80-degrees in the center and I was sweating profusely within an hour.
This process continued for the next 10 hours and involved some gratifying, embarrassing and stressful moments. In short, I was very overwhelmed and as the only person from my website to go, I was in over my head. But there were a lot of breathtaking cars for me to stare at and take pictures of. There were cars that I never thought I would ever see—Spyker Alerion, Koenigsegg One and Koenigsegg Regara—while others were a pleasant surprise, because they’re stunningly designed—Ford GT, Acura NSX GT3, Genesis New York Concept and the classic Nissan GT-Rs.
It was a long, exhausting day. And in between the chaos of getting photos, getting yelled at by journalists and running around, I managed to get some time with the cars. The second day was a lot less stressful, since the majority of journalists left knowing that nothing big would be unveiled.
The auto show closed really early on the second day—at 4 PM—and I left shortly after. While I love New York City, I was beat, my feet were killing me and I was looking at a six-hour bus ride home.
Overall, the New York Auto Show is an animal. There are thousands of cars on display, which will make any enthusiast weak in the knees. There’s even stuff for the regular individuals, which makes sense as the majority of auto shows are aimed towards buyers. It was packed and, as rumor has it, the show will be even more crowded when it opens up to the public.
Would I do the whole thing ago to attend the show? No. There’s no way I’m getting on a 12:30 AM bus to get anywhere at 6 AM again. I would try to get there at a time that’s more convenient for myself. But if I lived closer to the city, I would definitely make some time to go. It’s not often that an international auto show pops up and it’s well worth the trip. Just don’t be like journalists and let everyone take pictures, everyone’s there to see the cars and it’s not fun when people think they’re entitled to one-on-one time with the vehicles.