The traditional news-stand-style car show is doomed.
It doesn’t matter which show you care to mention – Geneva, Frankfurt, or Detroit – they all suffer from the same problem:
They’re about cars.
What've you been sniffing? They’re supposed to be about cars. They’re CAR shows.
Hear me out.
Cars are great, but they’re machines. Cold, inanimate hunks of metal and rubber, held together with screws and welds. Sure, some of them make tremendous noises, and others are capable of tearing holes in the space-time continuum, but at the end of the day, they’re still machines.
And why would anyone consider travelling hundreds of kilometres to a car show when they could simply see the things online for free?
Sure, dedicated enthusiasts will make the journey, but what about the everyday person who can’t tell a Nissan Micra apart from a GTR? What’s going to get them through the door?
No, cars are great, but they’re not enough.
So, what’s your solution? Get rid of the cars?
Interestingly, while car shows may be under threat, ‘car meets’ appear to be flourishing.
I suggest car-show executives take a leaf out of the car-meet book of success.
Yes, ‘car meets’.
Y’know. Where you take your car to a nondescript car-park to meet with fellow enthusiasts and chow down on a kebab (or six).
Aside from the drugs and presence of tetanus, they’re brilliant.
Alright, so car meets aren’t perfect either BUT they must be doing something right considering their increasing appeal.
What is it they're doing right?
They are focused on people.
Sit down for a moment. I’ve got a story to tell.
About a month ago I had the privilege of visiting Motorclassica – Australia’s premier annual automotive exhibition – and it was absolutely fantastic.
It had everything. New machinery, Pre-War Bentleys, glorious American muscle cars…
But you know what my favourite part was? The people.
See, at its core, Motorclassica isn’t merely about promoting the latest and greatest feats of engineering. It’s about uniting like-minded people. Passionate people.
Classic Mini-owners lounged in the sun, talking about their prized possessions to anyone who so much as glanced in their direction. Retired veterans wheeled around the exhibition gawking at the cars of their youth. Young school lads posed for photos in front of Pistas and R34 Skylines alike.
My favourite sight was of an elderly man who sat perched on the sill of his Mercedes 300SL, his gull-wing acting as a sunshade, surrounded by cheery mates on camper chairs.
It is still very much a ‘show’ in the traditional sense, however, Motorclassica’s genius lies in its ability to incorporate the communal focus of car-meets in order to create an inclusive atmosphere.
True passion is contagious. And shows like Motorclassica are filled with passionate people.
You may be on to something here.
I think so too.
See, the problem with many modern car shows is that they tend to remove humans from the equation. Their focus is on mind-numbing technology and anal innovation. Fascinating, yes, but those things aren’t enticing enough to prompt me to take the two-hour commute to my nearest exhibition centre; the prospect of meeting like-minded individuals, however, is.
I’ve long held the philosophy that people make cars great. We give them life through the stories we tell, the records we break with them, the adventures we take them on.
"People make cars great." I like that
The problem with many modern car shows is that they’re all about cars.
And while cars are good, people are better.
Geneva, Frankfurt, and Detroit: Take note.