Setting off the second media day for the 2006 show was a presentation by GM executives who proudly unveiled a host of new vehicles, including the 260-horsepower Pontiac Solstice GXP, the redesigned Chevrolet Suburban, a couple new Saabs, and the Corvette ZO6 Pace Car, which will lead the field at this year’s Daytona 500. Driving that particular ZO6 will be none other than Jay Leno, Tonight Show host and car enthusiast extraordinaire. Despite the early hour, Leno held the audience’s attention with overwhelming praise of the ZO6, offered kudos to the amped Solstice GXP, wondered aloud if he could cram a few ears of corn into the bio-fuel Saab’s tank, and lauded the Chevrolet Suburban for its ability to carry nine log cabin Republicans up Brokeback Mountain, a pop-culture joke lost on the GM executive with whom Jay shared center stage. If only everyday could start with a special-edition ZO6 and a few jokes delivered from Leno firsthand.
Next up was BMW’s Chief Designer, Chris Bangle, who jabbed less at his listener’s funny bone, choosing instead to give an off-the-cuff lecture on surfaces. Yes, surfaces. In short, the man responsible for that funky bubble-butt on your neighbor’s 7 Series suggested that automotive design has just started to catch up to architectural design, it is finally starting to reflect current times, and that his goal with BMW was to match the look of the brand’s car with their advanced technology and engineering. Other respected designers also took to the microphone during the presentation, but given their horrible sense of fashion (think 70’s disco shirts and bad ties), one wonders how these folks got to choose what our rides look like. Of course, a few hours later Ferrari executives explained with thick accents that the key to this brand’s success is to never change – evolve, but don’t change. It seems that auto shows can sometimes raise more questions than answer.
Of course, this being SoCal, there were a handful of vehicles that were downright sexy, so much so that bleach-blonde and inflated show floor models seemed to grow green with envy. Stealing their thunder was the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, the Spyker C8 and C12, and the redesigned Chevrolet Aveo. OK, that last one was just to see if you’re paying attention. But, then again, this is LA – somebody’s probably aching to download pictures of that little Korean import.