Vroom With a View

Auto show kicks into gear

The sheer size of The Arizona International Auto Show can be a bit overwhelming. But that's a good thing to Bobbi Sparrow, vice president of the Valley Auto Dealers Association, which organizes the yearly event.

"We use every square inch of the Civic Plaza, and we use the outside, too," says Sparrow. "We are the biggest show in the Civic Plaza."

Not surprisingly, Sparrow is eager for the plaza's expansion, which means that the auto show, too, will double in size.

"We can't wait, because it will allow us to bring in that much more," she says.

A variety of changing exhibits is planned for the four-day celebration. "If you want to come every day, you're going to see different things," Sparrow says. "On Thursday, we have the tuner cars with aftermarket enhancements, and on Friday is the lowrider display, with 20 lowriders from the Arizona Lowriders Club. It's neat because it's fathers and sons that put these together." State finalists from Automotive Youth Educational Systems programs compete in troubleshooting contests on Saturday morning, and Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk signs autographs in the afternoon. Sunday is Kids' Day, topped with an appearance by SpongeBob SquarePants. For grown-ups, the day's highlight is a 40th-anniversary show of Ford Mustangs.

Throughout the weekend, visitors also can check out some cutting-edge concept cars and displays from Barrett-Jackson, Harley-Davidson and Phoenix International Raceway.

But the biggest draw of the auto show is the hundreds of 2004 models from 35 car manufacturers, which visitors can check out free of sales pressure. "I've had many people tell me that, during [the auto show], they changed their minds totally on what they thought they wanted," says Sparrow, who adds that it's easier for busy people to spend the day at the auto show than to drive around to different dealerships. "I think time is a commodity right now, so from that standpoint, you come out a winner."

 
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