Detroit auto show draws excited fans

January 20, 2008 6:39:41 PM PST
Desmond Parks was torn between a sports utility vehicle with high-tech features and a colorful coupe, both by Infiniti. He's 13 and has plenty of time to choose before he'll actually drive anything, but he decided he was most impressed by the Infiniti FX45 SUV at the first public day of this year's North American International Auto Show.

"The moving seats, navigation system, steering wheel, XM Radio - I could actually drive this," he said before running to the next shiny display.

Desmond and his sister Travey Parks, 32, were among the thousands of visitors who flocked to the show in Cobo Hall as temperatures outside were in the teens.

Travey was looking forward to an escape from her leaking 1995 Dodge Neon, what she called a "$500 special."

"My dream car is a Cadillac," she said. "Any kind of Cadillac."

First-timer Mitchell Mattice liked the Jeep display and concept cars.

"The Jeep display with the waterfall blew me away," said Mattice, 30, of Omaha, Neb. "The auto show back home is nowhere near the size or magnitude of this show."

His brother, Clayton Mattice, 28, of Elkhorn, Neb., was impressed by the Pontiac G8, which had its own spinning platform and presenter. He said the car was aimed more at his generation.

"The style of it and the attention to detail give it a bit more of an edgy feel, but not over the top," he said.

Mel and Mary Lou Swetland, of Jackson, Mich., tested a model of their current vehicle at the auto show a few years ago. The 71- and 70-year olds returned to check out the new Ford F-150 they'd seen advertised on television.

"Ford impressed me with the step on the back and the step on the side" of the new F-150, Mel Swetland said.

One auto show frequenter was a bit disappointed about the lack of entertainment - other than the vehicles.

"I haven't been to opening day in forever," said John Andzelik, of Belleville, Mich., who said he is "thinking green" after seeing hybrids at the auto show.

"It's a Saturday, it's opening day, let's get some excitement going on here."

The show continues through January 27.