LA Auto Show

Article and Photos by Tex K. Otto

The Los Angeles Auto Show is one of the largest attended automotive showcases in the world, an event that allows manufacturers to tempt road going consumers with their current production cars and futuristic prototypes. Among the new model debutantes was the greatly anticipated Ferrari 360 Modena Spider and other significant sports cars including the Porsche Carrera GT and BMW M3 coupe and convertible.

More pedestrian vehicles that will soon hit the highways are the retro two-seater Ford Thunderbird, a Steve McQueen flashback Mustang Bullitt model (San Francisco tolerant shock absorbers not included), a Lexus retractable convertible and a slew of SUV?s created in every scale to keep the oil companies very happy for the foreseeable future. Los Angeles does not earn the respect to introduce all of the new designs such as the Ferrari 550 Barchetta Pininfarina, MINICooper, the new Dodge Viper or the soon to be introduced Nissan Z car, as the grand daddy of American auto shows opens the following week in Detroit.

Michael Lederman, of Ogner Motorcars, was on hand at the Ferrari display of authorized Southern Califormnia dealers. Here was the North American debut of the stunning red 360 Spider to the throng of salivating enthusiasts that lined the exhibit?s perimeter three deep. This particular 360 had the traditional 6-speed manual transmission to look the part of a Ferrari, even though about 80 percent of the 360 models are delivered with the F1 paddle shift transmission. All viewers were exposed to what elements make a Ferrari, by it?s prominent polished aluminum knob above the gated shifter pattern, and the glass covered visible mid-mounted engine.  In the plushly carpeted display, the Spider?s top down stance looks fast even at rest, as the aerodynamic rear deck sprouts sail panels behind the driver and passenger. Also on display were the balance of Ferrari models: 360 Modena coupe, 456, 550 Marenello and a 360 Challenge car with Ferrari of Beverly Hills markings.

As car enthusiasts and FCA club members, we are regularly exposed to Ferraris and know about the racing heritage of the marque, yet seeing a new Ferrari is always exciting. I took a few moments to absorb the beauty of this new Spider. Standing amongst those that lined the rope of the Ferrari display; I was reminded how rare the presence of a Ferrari is while overhearing the other viewers. Many had never seen a Ferrari in person before, others had not heard of a Ferrari; but thought they were the coolest cars at the show. Without knowing the price, people knew they were expensive and for that reason alone; they wanted one to impress their friends. Still others, with more practical automotive needs, were just curious at what the crowd was looking at with such ah. None of these cars in this display looked like a stroller would fit into the back seat, so they quickly moved on.

With most of the next several years of production already spoken for, Ferrari doesn?t really need to appear at car shows to get people enthused to buy one of their cars.  But I know what a major disappointment it would be to not see a Ferrari at a car show, especially one in the automotive mecca of Southern California. If only to spark the desire to a few of the show?s attendees to one day purchase a Ferrari, the mission has been accomplished to bring new enthusiasts into the fold of Ferrari ownership.