This month marks my second year in East Tennessee. While Knoxville is a far cry from the streets and lifestyle of Southern California, one thing in common for both cities is the need for transportation. Not to say that mass transit doesn't exist, but let's face it, neither cities have the public transit infrastructure of say a city like San Francisco or London. And while one will not see the ever popular exotics or high-end vehicles on a daily basis here, autos are still the most ideal way to get from A to B.
Enter the Knoxville News Sentinel and their annual Auto Show, this marks the 24th year for this long-running event. The venue is downtown in the convention center just next to the famed Sun Sphere and the World's fair park. It has been East Tennessee's answer to the larger annual shows held in such places as Detroit, L.A., and New York. While this venue is a smaller scale, the energy is very much the same level.
This was my second year attending the event and it's very much needed with the absence of attending one of the larger shows in my life. Many of the 2012 models provided for the show come from local dealers. The remaining vehicles, like the new Lexus LFA for example, comes in from the manufacturer from the larger show circuit.
The definite show stealer was the Lexus LFA. This vehicle has spent many of the past years as a prototype car. It began life in 2000 as a supercar project simply code named "P280". The first completed prototype came to life in June 2003. Less than two years later the now-called LFA was premiered at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show. I first caught a real-life glimpse of this car while shooting a 4-part series at the 2009 L.A. Auto Show.
In August 2009 Toyota's CEO Akio Toyoda officially announced the vehicle would enter production. The final determination (accompanied with many sale/lease stipulations) was that production will be capped at 500 cars (150 U.S.-bound). Production was set to run December 2010-December 2012 with an average output of 20 cars per month.
While the LFA is beautiful, a true gearhead still thinks about what else one could buy with a $375,000 budget. personally I would add a Corvette Z06 and a Ferrari 458 Italia to my collection, but that's just me! Some will pay the price for originality, or exclusivity.
This show had it's highlights, from the LFA to the the new Beetle, the latest Mini line-up, and the pony cars from the big three. At the end of the day no matter what size the venue, seeing the latest innovations in the automotive world is a real treat.