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The Purbalite

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Despite some highlights, auto show isn’t what it used to be

A Lamborghini Huracan Tecnica from Blackout Tinting at the 2024 Pittsburgh Auto Show.

For car fans, each President’s Day weekend not only means honoring George Washington, but also attending the Pittsburgh Auto Show. 

The Pittsburgh Auto Show is held every year at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. It is supposed to showcase the best offerings from major automobile manufacturers for the coming year. 

However, this year continued the trend of mediocrity that started with the arrival of COVID-19. Unfortunately, the show has never been able to rebound from the troubles of the pandemic. 

For years, there would be enough cars and manufacturers to fill both floors of the convention center. Now, the entire first floor is dedicated to tacky vendors who constantly yell at attendees to look at whatever junky product they are selling. Car fans are not at the car show to learn about Ohio tourism or buy strange fudge which has been sitting exposed under the fluorescent lights for hours. 

The only saving grace comes through the car care product companies and customization shops that bring some interesting and exotic cars to show off. In fact, these companies that no one has even heard of are now showing up show veterans such as the Pittsburgh Cars ‘N’ Coffee, who used to be known for bringing a fleet of exotic and expensive cars that stretched from one side of the show floor to the other. 

This year, Pittsburgh Cars ‘N’ Coffee brought three cars. Their display was so disappointing that they were relegated to a small plot outside the main showroom on the second floor. Now, when fans want to see exotic Ferraris or Lamborghinis, they should look for Blackout Tinting or Distinct Automotive Appearance. 

The second floor was where all of the auto manufacturers were set up, and was undoubtedly the main attraction. However, the models on display were somewhat disappointing. For the most part, they were all average cars. Fans could effectively stand by the side of the road and see the entire car show lineup drive by in 20 minutes. 

However, for a show focused on selling to the average consumer, there were two glaring absences: Audi and Genesis. While both are luxury brands, Audi is a household name, and Genesis is a new, affordable competitor in the luxury car industry. 

For those interested in purchasing a luxury car, it would have been nice to see the offerings of these two companies and be able to compare them with other models at the show.

One of which is the 2024 Volkswagen ID Buzz, the new electric version of the classic hippie microbus of the ‘60s.”

— Brendan Harris

While the car show is supposed to be a way for people looking to buy a new car to come and see what’s offered, the majority of the attendees are people interested in cars. 

It would be nice to see more interesting things as well. This is the second year GMC’s Hummer EV, their most anticipated release in a long time, was absent from the show. Also, Toyota’s 2024 Land Cruiser, which is returning after not being sold in the U.S. market since 2021, was absent. 

Other models popular with car enthusiasts but absent at the show include any model from Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance line and the sportier, non-SUV models from BMW’s M performance line. There needs to be more of a balance between models that appeal to families and those that appeal to car enthusiasts, and there is definitely space in the convention center to accommodate cars that will interest both.

However, there were a few exciting and unexpected cars that were on display.

One of which is the 2024 Volkswagen ID Buzz, the new electric version of the classic hippie microbus of the ‘60s. It had a boxy design reminiscent of the original and was kitted out with added camping gear to really reinforce the nomadic lifestyle these vans came to represent in the past. 

Also, Mercedes-Benz brought the 2024 Maybach EQS. This is an ultra-luxury electric SUV with a heavy price tag, but it seems more like the Ritz-Carlton Presidential Suite on wheels. Both of these cars drew large crowds of excited attendees.

Overall, the car show just doesn’t have the same feel as it did in years past. Since the pandemic, the showroom floor is more sparse and manufacturers don’t seem to be putting as much effort into their presentations as they used to. 

Regardless of its shortcomings, the auto show is still an exciting event for people who truly love cars, as it showcases many of the best offerings of major automakers for the coming year. 

For car enthusiasts in Pittsburgh, the auto show is still an event worth attending. However, the annual Vintage Grand Prix in Schenley Park still reigns supreme as the premier event for Pittsburgh petrolheads.

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About the Contributor
Brendan Harris
Brendan Harris, Multimedia Editor
Multimedia Editor Brendan Harris is a senior and second-year member of the Purbalite. He can be found gardening, practicing his golf swing, or playing the bagpipes.
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