Car4mh Geneva motor show 2009 blog

Published: 04 March 2009

Oh my god! It’s...the celebrity-spotting reader-blogger

No report from one of the world’s great motorshows would be complete without a wide-eyed fanboy list of all the famous people he saw there.  So bear with me while I try to avoid sounding like Jeremy Hart or Piers Morgan while name-dropping furiously below (I know, it’s impossible, but can’t blame me for trying).  Paparazzi pics provided where available.

1) Georg Kacher – spotted outside having a smoke by the entrance on Monday press day, as Team Thonon-les-bains (car4mh, Lokinen, Robby1977) battled their way to meet up with editor Tim.  Georg really is larger than life.  We didn’t get a chance to say hi, but Robby noted that being part of the international brotherhood of nicotine addicts wasn’t a bad thing if you’re in such illustrious company.  Batty, we did not accomplish your dare, for all the reasons I mentioned in the forum and more.
 
2) Tim Pollard – ok, I’m cheating because we were working for him, but come on, the guy does great work for the website. Tim has won so many Thanks This Week awards on the forum that it would be cruel not to admit being impressed to meet him in person the first time.  Even if he had to step away for a radio interview.  Also met Ben Pulman, who I thought would be taller (but thinking of it, maybe I was up on a stand platform while he was on ground level).  Tim was a great help to us all  We can only hope that we haven’t dented his goodwill with any of the manufacturer press offices during the show, as we blagged our way around apparently on his behalf.

3) Dr.-Ing. Franz-Josef Paefgen – It’s often said you remember your first of most things, and Dr Paefgen’s press conference was the first I attended.  It did sound a bit weird though hearing a very German voice promoting a very ‘British’ car.

4) Stefan Winkelmann – While not everyone is captivated by the CEO of Lamborghini, he makes a very charismatic impression in person.  I first got caught up in his reality-distortion field at the Lamborghini press conference, and if not for the scene-stealing field generated by one of the spokesmodels I may well have been brainwashed altogether.  Nonetheless, as you’ll read from Robby’s report, it was a great honour to briefly meet the man in person and shake his hand.  A company boss should ideally reflect the character of his company’s products and there’s no doubt Herr Winkelmann does just that.

5) Lamborghini Spokesmodel – commented on both in the official live blog and in my previous reports, I had an opportunity to say hello while acting as official photographer to Robby1977 on his journey through the world of Geneva booth professionals.  If TMS were there he’d have properly noted her name, and I did ask...but my mind’s a blank.  Funny that.

6) Harold Wester – Embarrased to admit that after all the changes at Maserati over the years I wasn’t sure who the current CEO was, which isn’t good for one of my favourite marques.  Following the Lamborghini charm offensive was no easy matter, especially when you have nothing new to announce.  As Robby can attest though, between the cars and the spokesmodels the Maserati stand was a highlight.

7) Angus McKenzie – I’ve enjoyed reading Angus’s work over the years, first in Wheels, then Car and finally Motor Trend.  Funnily enough I’ve had to temper that with not always agreeing about the editorial direction he takes a magazine in when he is in charge.  I’m not sure he’d enjoy my writing style as it’s been said he wasn’t a fan of Paul Cockburn’s similar writing style when at Wheels (Paul is an Australian industrial designer and writer whose work I’ve enjoyed immensely over the years). So it may be best we didn’t have a chance to chat.  I would have complimented him on the great Dodge Challenger through Europe story he did with Ed Loh recently for Motor Trend though.  I even spotted a Hemi Orange Challenger as I drove out of Geneva yesterday. 

8) Shiro Nakamura – First designer of the show for me. I watched the Infiniti Essence unveiling and while the car itself was visual overload at the time (repeat viewings have me appreciating it more) I’ve been a fan of Nakamura’s work since he collaborated with Simon Cox on the Isuzu Vehicross concept.  Bottled-out of saying something to him in Japanese as he stood nearby after the presentation, but anyway it was great to see him.

9) Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro – I won’t make many friends on the Designer of the Century thread for this. But while I was awestruck to be standing on the booth with the Giugiaros as they talked Jean Alesi and other VIPs around their display, the cars they’re doing these days really feel like a new Rolling Stones album...they’re OK but your goodwill is based on hits from an increasingly long time ago.

10) Bob Lutz – I had a nice little debate with TMS during the lunch break about ‘Maximum Bob’, my adoration for the gung-ho car guy and his recognition of Holden’s great work tempered by TMS Tim’s valid assertion that he had been product czar during a period when what GM really needed was cars like the Volt sooner, not Escalades, Hummers, Solstices, GTOs and ZR-1s.  Still, it was a thrill for me to snap some shots of Bob making his retirement speech at the Opel press conference.

11) Ian Callum – As Livc44411 Oli has related in his blog, we were walking around the M-Benz stand when I spotted Ian and a colleague quickly checking out the new E-class coupe.  We approached him and he was exactly the jovial easy-going guy he appears to be in print.  I managed to get a photo for Oli, which made his day.  I’ve been a fan of Ian’s work since his early days with TWR design when he worked on the Holden Special Vehicles range, and it was great to meet him in person and shake hands. 

12) Martin Smith – I mentioned Martin in an earlier blog, and I didn’t see him in the best of circumstance. Ford didn’t do a press conference as such, rather staging a photo call at the end of the day.  The Iosis Max design team were on hand for shots in front of their work, and since I hate having to pose for photography I completely sympathised as Mr Kinetic Design frowned at the endless stage-direction shouted from one particularly vocal press officer.  With the Ford PR army in close attendance there was no way I was getting a word in, so more of an observation than a meeting.

13) Ratan Tata – I wish.  Does being on the Tata stand while he gave his press conference count, if all I could see was him on a video screen?  I did get to defend the honour of the Nano Europa on Japanese TV the next day, so hopefully that counts as a plus-point. 

14) The Governator – Robby and I noticed a wave of people moving briskly through the halls on Wednesday morning, but couldn’t figure out who was the object of all this attention.  Nonetheless, thinking whoever it was must be a VIP, we rushed to catch up...and really ran to get ahead of the wave when we realised it was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  You can read more about it in Robby’s blog, as he got closest to the action. For me it was the day when my DSLR rig earned its Paparazzi merit badge, capturing telephoto shots of the Governator on the Porsche stand.

15) Jason Dawes – Not difficult to spot from a distance, we saw Jason on the Ferrari stand. Hopefully he was struggling to find something charitable to say about the Caiforniargh.

16) Jon Smith – We spotted former Max Power editor and Car contributor Jon (okay, Jonny) Smith with his colleague Paul at the Lamborghini stand.  Mr Smith was his usual streetwear-styled self and to his credit managed to get a word in whilst Robby was talking (no mean feat!)  All I could remember to ask about was his XJ40 lowrider, but as everyone probably knows already that got sold to get a house deposit together.  I know there’s some who’d have a problem with Jon but I can only echo Robby’s assessment that he’s ‘a sound bloke’.

17) Ferdinand Piech? An unconfirmed sighting prior to the Bentley press conference.  Do you think it’s him in the photo?

Overall I can’t help but be delighted to be able to compile that list Even so I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to recognise and say hello to more of the journalists who I’ve read over the years.  I did scan the chaos of the media centre, but in vain.  I also did not manage to spot Batty anywhere at the show, so the mystery of his identity continues.

>> Click next to read more of Car4mh's Geneva motor show blog

Roads await you...in the Green Pavillion

Being bombarded by the econetic/ecopower/ecoline/ecolife/ecodrive offensive on the main show floor was not enough for the organisers of the motor show to truly address the environmental impact of the motor car.  They created a special ‘Pavilion Vert’ (Green Pavilion) which was prominently located down a long hallway at the back of the hall, past the oddly-located TomTom & Garmin booths, outside Hall 4 and directly behind the wall that the Renault booth backed on to.  Your intrepid reader bloggers found it while looking for lunch, and for the sake of giving resident forum green activist johnnybimmer something new to comment about, I decided to report on it.

A casual viewer may have though this was something of an afterthought in the greater scheme of the show.  They may well be right.  There was the Nissan Nuvo electric car concept, which the Qazana concept or the NV-200 van must have bullied-off the main Nissan booth.

There was the French firm MCE-5 and their variable-compression engine technology which looked...like hard work to learn about so I kept moving. 

A surprise was seeing everyone’s favourite electric Lotus, the Tesla Roadster (at the Chrysler Hall of Remembrance the Dodge EV weeps  the same bitter tears that its donor Lotus Europa does when people ignore it for the Elise).  I didn’t get a chance to ask a representative why they weren’t proudly on the main floor instead of someone like Fornasari, or whether the Governator had visited them yesterday.  I did get to watch a group of people tapping the bodywork for some reason – perhaps it’s this year’s version of kicking the tires. 

There were variations on existing electric buggies, which would go down a treat with any G-Wiz owners.  I even found someone who had created a hybrid-drive homage to the legendary Ferrari 250 TR, and somehow managed to give it less occupant protection than a 50’s open-topped racing car.  The small matter of the body being out of scale with the presumably-human occupants was another cause for concern.

But the surprise of the Green Pavilion and perhaps the entire show for me has to go to Ikco.  Waiting at the back of the pavilion, there was the Ikco Samand, from Iran.  Surely a candidate for the ‘Forgotten Cars of the Last 35 years’ thread on the Car forums, the Samand’s green credentials came not from recycling of components from its international partners (mostly the Peugeot 405 platform), but turbo CNG engines.  Impressed and a little disconcerted by encountering Iran’s national car, I quietly picked up a Samand brochure and one of the colourful ‘Roads Await You’ plastic bags and moved along. 

I retreated along another corridor, past ice-cream and refreshment vendors and huddled show goers grazing peacefully on overpriced snack foods. Exiting into Hall 4, I found myself back at Renault, where things were green, but not Green Pavilion green.


>> Click next to read more of Car4mh's Geneva motor show blog

A one-way press pass to Halle 7...and back

Readers I write to you from the Car Reader-Blogger Media Centre in rainy Thonon-les-bains with a tale of another Geneva Auto Salon. By now you have read our accounts of a magical land where industry leaders and journalists mingle carefree amongst cars, spokesmodels and complimentary refreshments.  This is the Auto Salon of our intrepid online editor Tim, of our print-edition heroes Green and Kacher, and for a couple of days lucky reader-bloggers like myself. 

And yet...there is a Geneva Auto Salon which does not make the pages of Car, or indeed the website.  It lurks unseen, accessible through an innocuous-looking door located in the middle the hushed and sombre Chrysler/Dodge Memorial booth.  It is called Halle 7, and brace yourselves dear readers, because I’m going to take you there.

Halle 7 is the parts and accessories pavilion. All major motor shows no doubt have them, and your local motor show is probably very much along the lines of Halle 7.  It is not the fabled twilight zone of big-money tuner cars (they lurk in plain sight on the main show floor, waiting for unsuspecting taste-challenged wealthy to fall into their trap).  It’s the place where all the companies that provide essential parts and equipment for the automotive industry display their wares and do business.

Which sounds fine as you walk in, and see the European version of your local workshop hoist sales rep talking to the European version of your local garage owner. I did not realise that there were so many manufacturers of workshop hydraulic hoists or platforms, but here they were, awaiting the auto trades magazine version of Gavin Green to give us the inside line on who will survive next year. They got me instead. All I can say is that the firm with a KTM X-Bow on their hoist deserves kudos. 

As I got deeper into the hall, the scenes became more disturbing. A chap named Werner Ritter had decided that Arden hadn’t done a good enough job pimping the XF, and had created the XF GT-R...I don’t know if the scarier thing is the GT-R graphics on the side, or that I might put all my goodwill from meeting Ian Callum aside by pondering the ‘scheinwerfermaske’ which takes that awkward round detail off the front headlights.

Deeper into the hall, the underworld of local tuning shops acted as the red-light district for tarted-up cars.  It was as if vehicle traffickers had abducted innocent cars from the show floor, and forced them into slavery on their booths, modelling grotesque wheels, bodywork and paint for the joy of the local boy racer community.  I saw things...horrible things.  A new GTR, its doors ripped from their original hinges and splayed upwards as a cruel homage to Lamborghini. Another one disfigured with tasteless graphics. A poor 3-door Fiesta, who had been tarted-up within an inch of its little Zetec-S life.  A Mercedes SL which looked like the Fab Design SL Blecch-edition from the main show being ogled by boy racers.  New Sciroccos were smeared in vinyl decals and forced into compromising poses on what could only be described as porn-star alloys.  There was a metallic red car...it might have been an old Panda but it had been so heavily covered in plastic I had to look away.  I turned and was greeted by a poster of a multi-armed tool-waving woman grinning maniacally. Suddenly I felt very alone and far from home. 

And yet, I found goodness amongst the horrors, restoring my faith in humanity.  Jean Reusse, a distributor of air compressors, displayed their 75th anniversary range in the very same matte-blue of the latest Veyron special edition. If only I had known, I would have asked Bugatti if they had found their inspiration from the MARK Stormy Pro S – I could see the resemblance immediately. 

Auto trade distributor Derendinger had thoughtfully provided a ‘ladies-lounge’ on its booth, presumably so that wives and girlfriends could have a respite from the details of hydraulic workshop hoist specifications. 

A spokesmodel for the Austrian alloy wheel manufacturer AEZ offered a signed poster for our readers, and even attempted to make the XF GT-R look better by standing in front of it.  Such innovation has yet to find the main show, where the Girls of the Fiat Group compound could do a roaring trade in signed posters if allowed.

On my way out of Halle 7, I noticed an annex near the entry to Hall 6...and felt like I had stepped through a portal to the other side of the world.  This little area next to a refreshments vendor was an almost-exact image of a typical provincial motor show back in New Zealand.  There was the stall awash in Ferrari-looking red clothing, the dealer of car posters and prints, the seller of model cars, the booth selling what looked like soft-core porn (okay, haven’t seen that at a motor show in NZ, so it must be a European thing) and the UK purveyor of pewter art to bring a dash of ‘you do realise this is a motor show?’ to proceedings. 

Strolling back through the doors into the tranquillity of the Jeep Memorial Garden, I had mixed feelings.  By exposing the contents of Halle 7 to the genteel readers of Car, was I tarnishing their fantastic vision of the Geneva Auto Salon?  In the end, I decided it was best to let you know – if only so that the various cars being pimped-out against their makers’ intentions have their plight recognised. 

>> Click next to read more of Car4mh's Geneva motor show blog 

Day 2 - 4 March 2009

Bloggers, Blaggers, Journalists and Press Kits

There is a heirarchy at press days for the Geneva Auto Salon, just as you can find heirarchies if you attend public days at a motor show.  The industry insiders and well-known journalists move effortlessly backstage and into the same interview rooms or VIP areas that you will see prospective customers being taken to at the supercar stands during the public days while you're stuck behind the railing. Your 'plucky reader bloggers' have press day access passes...but not press accreditation.  'Proper' press accreditation means a Goodyear lanyard for holding your Press ID, a big bag of reference material from the show organisers, and a guaranteed press kit at every booth.   Our cards get us in the door...after that we're on our own.  So far, I have used the 'business card?  hang on, it's around here somewhere...' stall-for-time so the guardian of the presskits gets bored and gives in, the 'My editor is Tim Pollard from CAR Magazine, I have his card here', and with livc yesterday we successfully did a franco-kiwi tagteam pleadathon to get exclusive access to the DS concept.  That was quite a victory - even Ben Oliver had to wait a bit to be granted entry to the controversial hidden concept car, and he had a proper pass. 

Today it's been all about 'I'm sorry, I've run out of cards' and this usually gets either the presskit no questions asked, or your name written on a form.  In fact, with many journalists having filed their stories yesterday, day 2 has been much better for getting access - we were straight onto the AM/Lagonda stand, I ended up being recruited as a guest commentator for Japanese TV, and we met a certain charismatic Italo-German supercar manufacturer CEO.  But even then, Robby1977 and Lokinen were able to get quite substantial interviews with some mnaufacturer reps yesterday, which will be covered in their blogs.

The world of the press kit is much different from what you receive on public show days, when the avid collector can fill carry bags with brochures and pricelists.  Many companies have gone with USB flash memory - Lexus, Giugiaro, Renault, Ford.  Others go with DVDs/CDROMS, such as Audi, Porsche, the Fiat group and Infiniti.  Packaging ranges from elaborate (Audi's resembles a german techno box set, Infiniti's a brown leather sleeve in homage to their Essence concept).  The truly eco-aware and sustainability-conscious have gone with special websites (Honda, Lotus and Lancia to name a few) and Lexus offer touchscreen download stations for journalists to BYO USB drive and save what they want.

Best press kit so far?  I've not had a chance to look at the Alfa Romeo DVD but didn't see an R18 sticker so imagine it's just about the cars and not the spokesmodels who rule their booth.  For quality of presentation I'm most impressed so far by the Volvo press kit -  a compact boxed-set of bound booklets with included DVDs which would be worthy of a Stephen Bayley production. 

But with all the manufacturers here, it's easy to have too much of a good thing.  I don't know whether Seat is giving out stroller suitcases but I've seen plenty of people pushing them, and Mini have a big boutique shopping bag (I haven't collected theirs yet, the idea of a JCW cabriolet scared me away).  For all the wonders of miniturisation and web2.0, the media centre's DHL-sponsored shipping desk is still doing a good trade in packing and dispatching boxes of material for travellers whose eye for blagging some press material exceeds their baggage allowance on the flight home.

The motorshow media - watching the watchers (and participating too)

You are in a global media scrum at the motorshows, and like any great human endeavour the chance to watch the people at work is almost as fascinating as the cars themselves.  Contrary to the Clarksonian tradition/stereotype, the vast majority of the journalists are relatively well-dressed and suits or smart-casual are the uniform.  Where things get interesting is on the photo/video side of the divide, where lugging camera gear means a dress code more like your local university campus than a TV newsroom, and as the day wears on and the temperatures rise (Tim noticed 26 degrees celsius on the ambient temp guage of one of the cars on display) being able to cruise the halls in T-shirt and jeans seems like a smart move to your well-dressed reader bloggers.

Industry execs are all suited, and king of the suits is Stefan Winkelmann of Lamborghini, who you would think is a designer from his stylish appearance.  To witness one of his press conferences is like seeing Steve Jobs preach to the Apple faithful, and as long as he is around then everyone who loves modern Lamborghini can be assured that the company is in good hands. 

The motorshow species which gets all the looking-at are the spokesmodels, who range from family-friendly (Ford, Toyota Renault etc), chavtacular grid girl (Abarth), Bond-girl eveningwear (insert name of Italian carmaker here) and then there are the infamous microscopic Daisy-Duke shorts at the Zagato booth.  Striking poses on-cue in killer heels in front of the mostly-male press corp and massed ranks of photographers and videographers (and yes, the annoying guy with a cameraphone who keeps getting in your way, he's here on press day too) looks like hard work.  Imagine having to make a matte-black Lancia Delta or the orange bomb on the Giugiaro stand look good from 8-10 hours, with half of the viewers wanting you in the photo, and half of them wanting you out of the way so they can see the car?  Not to mention that were you to check your average spokesmodel's facebook page, you would be unlikely to find 'casual proposals for dates, marriage or a quick test of the recreational space in the back of the nearest sedan' in their list of 'looking for' options.  Of course, if you do, let Robby know!  (just kidding). 

Even industry execs end up being spokesmodels of a kind at unveilings, and some of them handle it very well (the aforementioned Herr Winkelmann, Dr Bez, Bob Lutz) while others don't appear to be so happy about it - mind you, if I was Martin Smith being ordered around for interminable photos in front of the Iosis Max at 5pm, no doubt after a long day of interviews, I wouldn't be looking too delighted to be there either. 

Day 1 - 3 March 2009

Hi everyone, checking-in from the media centre after the first round of big-name press conferences.  Some impressions:

Overwhelming to begin with.  Attempting to capture images and suitable commentary at press conferences an (enjoyable) challenge.

Bentley look to be using Jaguar's hyper-kinetic graphic style for their promo video of the new Conti Super Sport, and would you own a flex-fuel Bentley in white?
Stefan Winkelmann is as charismatic in person as he looks, but sorry kubrick, he won't divulge where he gets his suits made.  Despite best intentions, I was captivated by one of the Lamborghini spokes models.  omgno3 will be terribly disappointed.  Suspect between Lamborghini and Abarth that Robby will be unable to concentrate on cars, and I haven't even been to the Renaultsport stand yet.

Harold Wester at Maserati had a far more difficult time (but he didn't really have much on the product front to announce). Good news financially at Maserati though - sales and revenue results up (17% and 19%) for 2008, determination not to lapse into losses in 2009.

Infiniti press conference at 10:15 - having seen the JDM Skyline coupe at the weekend in Tokyo, it'll be interesting to see how they've updated it.

Day 2 - 4 March 2009

Bloggers, Blaggers, Journalists and Press Kits

There is a heirarchy at press days for the Geneva Auto Salon, just as you can find heirarchies if you attend public days at a motor show.  The industry insiders and well-known journalists move effortlessly backstage and into the same interview rooms or VIP areas that you will see prospective customers being taken to at the supercar stands during the public days while you're stuck behind the railing. Your 'plucky reader bloggers' have press day access passes...but not press accreditation.  'Proper' press accreditation means a Goodyear lanyard for holding your Press ID, a big bag of reference material from the show organisers, and a guaranteed press kit at every booth.   Our cards get us in the door...after that we're on our own.  So far, I have used the 'business card?  hang on, it's around here somewhere...' stall-for-time so the guardian of the presskits gets bored and gives in, the 'My editor is Tim Pollard from CAR Magazine, I have his card here', and with livc yesterday we successfully did a franco-kiwi tagteam pleadathon to get exclusive access to the DS concept.  That was quite a victory - even Ben Oliver had to wait a bit to be granted entry to the controversial hidden concept car, and he had a proper pass. 

Today it's been all about 'I'm sorry, I've run out of cards' and this usually gets either the presskit no questions asked, or your name written on a form.  In fact, with many journalists having filed their stories yesterday, day 2 has been much better for getting access - we were straight onto the AM/Lagonda stand, I ended up being recruited as a guest commentator for Japanese TV, and we met a certain charismatic Italo-German supercar manufacturer CEO.  But even then, Robby1977 and Lokinen were able to get quite substantial interviews with some mnaufacturer reps yesterday, which will be covered in their blogs.

The world of the press kit is much different from what you receive on public show days, when the avid collector can fill carry bags with brochures and pricelists.  Many companies have gone with USB flash memory - Lexus, Giugiaro, Renault, Ford.  Others go with DVDs/CDROMS, such as Audi, Porsche, the Fiat group and Infiniti.  Packaging ranges from elaborate (Audi's resembles a german techno box set, Infiniti's a brown leather sleeve in homage to their Essence concept).  The truly eco-aware and sustainability-conscious have gone with special websites (Honda, Lotus and Lancia to name a few) and Lexus offer touchscreen download stations for journalists to BYO USB drive and save what they want.

Best press kit so far?  I've not had a chance to look at the Alfa Romeo DVD but didn't see an R18 sticker so imagine it's just about the cars and not the spokesmodels who rule their booth.  For quality of presentation I'm most impressed so far by the Volvo press kit -  a compact boxed-set of bound booklets with included DVDs which would be worthy of a Stephen Bayley production. 

But with all the manufacturers here, it's easy to have too much of a good thing.  I don't know whether Seat is giving out stroller suitcases but I've seen plenty of people pushing them, and Mini have a big boutique shopping bag (I haven't collected theirs yet, the idea of a JCW cabriolet scared me away).  For all the wonders of miniturisation and web2.0, the media centre's DHL-sponsored shipping desk is still doing a good trade in packing and dispatching boxes of material for travellers whose eye for blagging some press material exceeds their baggage allowance on the flight home.

The motorshow media - watching the watchers (and participating too)

You are in a global media scrum at the motorshows, and like any great human endeavour the chance to watch the people at work is almost as fascinating as the cars themselves.  Contrary to the Clarksonian tradition/stereotype, the vast majority of the journalists are relatively well-dressed and suits or smart-casual are the uniform.  Where things get interesting is on the photo/video side of the divide, where lugging camera gear means a dress code more like your local university campus than a TV newsroom, and as the day wears on and the temperatures rise (Tim noticed 26 degrees celsius on the ambient temp guage of one of the cars on display) being able to cruise the halls in T-shirt and jeans seems like a smart move to your well-dressed reader bloggers.

Industry execs are all suited, and king of the suits is Stefan Winkelmann of Lamborghini, who you would think is a designer from his stylish appearance.  To witness one of his press conferences is like seeing Steve Jobs preach to the Apple faithful, and as long as he is around then everyone who loves modern Lamborghini can be assured that the company is in good hands. 

The motorshow species which gets all the looking-at are the spokesmodels, who range from family-friendly (Ford, Toyota Renault etc), chavtacular grid girl (Abarth), Bond-girl eveningwear (insert name of Italian carmaker here) and then there are the infamous microscopic Daisy-Duke shorts at the Zagato booth.  Striking poses on-cue in killer heels in front of the mostly-male press corp and massed ranks of photographers and videographers (and yes, the annoying guy with a cameraphone who keeps getting in your way, he's here on press day too) looks like hard work.  Imagine having to make a matte-black Lancia Delta or the orange bomb on the Giugiaro stand look good from 8-10 hours, with half of the viewers wanting you in the photo, and half of them wanting you out of the way so they can see the car?  Not to mention that were you to check your average spokesmodel's facebook page, you would be unlikely to find 'casual proposals for dates, marriage or a quick test of the recreational space in the back of the nearest sedan' in their list of 'looking for' options.  Of course, if you do, let Robby know!  (just kidding). 

Even industry execs end up being spokesmodels of a kind at unveilings, and some of them handle it very well (the aforementioned Herr Winkelmann, Dr Bez, Bob Lutz) while others don't appear to be so happy about it - mind you, if I was Martin Smith being ordered around for interminable photos in front of the Iosis Max at 5pm, no doubt after a long day of interviews, I wouldn't be looking too delighted to be there either. 

Day 1 - 3 March 2009

Hi everyone, checking-in from the media centre after the first round of big-name press conferences.  Some impressions:

Overwhelming to begin with.  Attempting to capture images and suitable commentary at press conferences an (enjoyable) challenge.

Bentley look to be using Jaguar's hyper-kinetic graphic style for their promo video of the new Conti Super Sport, and would you own a flex-fuel Bentley in white?
Stefan Winkelmann is as charismatic in person as he looks, but sorry kubrick, he won't divulge where he gets his suits made.  Despite best intentions, I was captivated by one of the Lamborghini spokes models.  omgno3 will be terribly disappointed.  Suspect between Lamborghini and Abarth that Robby will be unable to concentrate on cars, and I haven't even been to the Renaultsport stand yet.

Harold Wester at Maserati had a far more difficult time (but he didn't really have much on the product front to announce). Good news financially at Maserati though - sales and revenue results up (17% and 19%) for 2008, determination not to lapse into losses in 2009.

Infiniti press conference at 10:15 - having seen the JDM Skyline coupe at the weekend in Tokyo, it'll be interesting to see how they've updated it.

By Car4mh

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