2009 Geneva Auto Show

Last week, I was fortunate enough to attend one of the biggest events in the automotive industry — the 79th Geneva International Auto Show.Acres upon acres of new vehicles, new accessories and overpriced hot dogs made Geneva’s “Palexpo” (their big event center) a heaven on earth for car enthusiasts such as myself.The show was attended by all kinds of people, from potential buyers of rare exotics to little kids whining, crying and wiping their boogers on quarter-million dollar cars.Expectedly enough, many automakers trotted out their “most economical models ever.”  Audi did their part by putting up posters with the word “efficiency” all over their exhibit, even next to their 10 cylinder R8 and feisty Lamborghinis.The two extremes weren’t the only things on display at the show.There were plenty of “normal” Chevrolets, Nissans and a smattering of practical and conventional European cars.But why would you look at those when the Porsche presentation is over there blasting techno music and popping champagne! Even Volvo painted a few cars red (gasp!).The excess exuded by the extreme vehicles on offer was really quite staggering, but what really shocked me was the cluelessness of the (ridiculously rich) people trying to buy them.When I was ogling the new Porsche GT2, a salesman was pitching it to a 100-pound lady in a cocktail dress. When I heard her ask why there were three pedals, I went into a corner and cried for an hour.This is a car that has “roll cage” on its options list … it exists because, in order to be a part of certain racing leagues, Porsche is required to build a street-legal version. I’d be scared to drive it without a helmet and I can’t imagine a racing clutch is easy to manage in stilettos.Another lost-upon-its-buyers car was the Mercedes-Benz SL 65. While most of the cars Mercedes builds are actually intended to be driven by 100-pound ladies — my oma has one — this one makes 738 ft/lbs. of torque.That means it goes zero to fast in just enough time to make you feel like you’re jumping offRed Rocks after eating three pints of Phish Food.If you can make it across the Atlantic, I highly recommend a visit to Geneva next year. If not, you’ll just have to keep reading my column.