Click above for a high-res gallery of odds & ends from the 2009 Detroit Auto Show

Auto shows throw massive amounts of promotions, marketing, branding, communications and event planning brainpower into one little bowl. Everyone is trying to be distinctive, and sometimes they do it with the cars, sometimes with the merchandise, sometimes with lures that are meant to get you to their stand at all. Yet there are only so many positions in which to mount a car and so many ways to put a logo on a jacket, right? Inevitably, that means you come across a few nifty novelties, and you also discover a few more things that fell through the cracks and make you wonder "What is this... doing here?" These are few of those odds and ends we found at last week's 2009 Detroit Auto Show.

  • This single-seat concept car is one of the coolest we've seen in a long while. If only Dean Kamen had come out with this instead of the Segway...
  • There wasn't much novel branded merchandise at this year's show, but there was this: a Cadillac Rabbit with leather trim and contrasting white stitching. Is there anyone who loves Cadillac enough to own this?
  • A Cadillac wine is within our mental reach, if not our grasp. But a Kia calculator? Branded merchandise is supposed to say something about the brand. This item says much more about the person who owns it. Not nice things.
  • There were more than the usual number of heritage cars on display in stands at this year's show. Some were benign, such as the first Legacy from September 1, 1989 in the Subaru stand.
  • Some heritage cars were cool: the 365 hp No. 1 Boyle Special Maserati 8CTF won the Indy 500 in 1939 and 1940. Maserati was the first marque to win Indy back-to-back, and the same car also won Pike's Peak.
  • Some heritage cars were worth a smirk: we thought "Phaeton" was a bad word inside the VW group, since it got this man fired and VW run out of the luxury segment. But 2009 is Audi's centennial, so they showed off their Type A Double Phaeton, a subtle way of saying "We will handle the Phaetons, thank you..."
  • And some heritage displays were just a little doleful. While we really do like the 300C, and it really could be "The Most Awarded Car Ever," it's time for compelling new ideas - like the 200C - so we can stop trotting out this swayback nag and let it retire gracefully.
  • We thought this was a garbage can. Turns out it's a very expensive loudspeaker from Bowers & Wilkins, Jaguar's audio system partner.
  • This Chinese version of Harley Earl created this hood ornament for the BYD F6.
  • A landscaped track was created inside Cobo Hall where people could ride in - not actually drive - hybrids and electric vehicles. It was called the Eco Xperience, and it smelled like a giant compost heap. The odor was so strong it drifted up the stairwell to the VW stand and had people looking at the Bluesport Concept and wondering "Do you smell that?"
  • This is a concept car created for the American Iron and Steel Institute. We aren't sure where or how the people fit inside since it looks like a giant grille on wheels. But the design language is a little familiar...
  • Since it ended up on the Lincoln MKT, which came from the sea, looking like a baleen whale, and now every time we see it we want to shove krill in its mouth.

Share This Photo X