What are the top five things to see at the AutoShow?

 Saturday, February 24, 2024 By Bill Taylor Special to the Star

Auto enthusiast scouts the car show, which wraps up on Sunday, and gives his top things to see down at the event.

  • Nick Lachance

“You could never describe the Cybertruck as eye-candy, but somehow it’s hard to look away,” writes Bill Taylor of Tesla’s creation.

This may not be something you’d expect to hear from someone of my advanced years, but …


And I’m giggling, too.

No one’s ever about to mistake me for Ken, but here I am behind the wheel of Barbie’s 1957 Chevy Corvette, a real-life iteration, masterminded by Hot Wheels, of the more caricaturish Corvette from last year’s blockbuster movie.

If the idea of a pink ’57 ’Vette makes you cringe, wait and see. It totally works! I’m wishing I’d worn a shirt to match, but still, it makes me feel like a teenager again. Until my arthritic knees and I have to get out of its cramped cockpit.

“Shimmy,” a Hot Wheels staffer advises. “Now swing one leg out …”

Might have been easier just to take the door off. Still, this is definitely one of my top five, must-see highlights at the Canadian International Auto Show.

The others, in no particular order:

Camp Jeep: A ride-along experience to display what the various models can do off-road. The Jeeps are electric, which may seem incongruous given the shortage of recharging stations when you’re out in the wilderness, but lose nothing in performance and agility.

You may be glad you’re not allowed to do the driving when you see the course they’ve laid out: a precipitous whoop-de-do (if you’ll forgive the technical language) and an equally steep banked turn. Halfway around, the driver will stop to reassure you that the Jeep is not about to fall over.

There’s also a jaunt up and down a flight of stairs. This is probably something you’ll never contemplate doing but if you should, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU COMING! The stealth Jeep, for outdoor and indoor use. (No, seriously, do NOT try this at home!)

Speaking of stealth … Since it first made the transition from an exercise in drawing-board whimsy to a concept vehicle in 2019, the Tesla Cybertruck has been a source of controversy. An expensive put-on? A wannabe movie star? Mad Max or Bladerunner? The jury was out and arguing hotly.

Turns out that it really is just … a truck. A hefty one, at that. But what a truck!

It may look as if it was designed in a beginner-level origami class, but you can lay a standard-size sheet of plywood flat in the back along with all the other things for your construction needs. And, if the contractor is running late to a job, it’ll stay neck-and-neck with a McLaren 720S for the 2.9 seconds it takes them both to accelerate from 0-100 km/h.

You could never describe the Cybertruck as eye-candy, but somehow it’s hard to look away. And when you do, it’s hard to remember the details of what you’ve just seen. Part workhorse, part stealth-bomber, this may be the most interesting — certainly the most enigmatic — vehicle at the show.

The term “supercar” is relatively recent. Supercars themselves are not. They may not have had today’s stratospheric acceleration or top speeds, but, back in the late 1920s/early ’30s — that’s closing in on a century ago! — some of the cars on the road were both frighteningly fast, especially given their suspension and brakes, and stunningly beautiful.

Time passes and now they’re almost as rare as steak tartare, but the people behind the annual Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance, due north of Owen Sound, have assembled a gallery of rolling works of art. They include a 1929 Bentley Speed Six Tourer1932 Stutz Bearcat and a ’32 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe. Only 44 of these V16-engined beasts were built, of which eight are known to survive.

The later years get a nod, too, with two late 1960s Shelbys, a ’71 Pontiac Pegasus concept car and ’80 Lamborghini Countach LP400S.

What are they worth? If you have to ask, you really don’t want to know the answer. I doubt if I could even afford the Bearcat’s hood ornament.

Just as classic in their own way and rather less costly (though not exactly cheap) are the three scaled-down immortals from Britain’s Little Car Company, which puts together limited-edition cars with a jeweller’s precision and attention to detail.

Two of them are 75-per-cent the size of the real thing: one is based on the epochal Bugatti Type 35 racer first produced in the mid-1920s; the other pays tribute to Ferrari’s iconic 250 Testa Rossa, built between 1957 and ’61.

They’re gorgeous, but I would choose the 1929 Bentley Blower replica, and not just because they let me sit in that one, too.

It’s a little bigger at 85 per cent of the supercharged real thing — go take another look at Cobble Beach’s full-size Bentley. No wonder Ettore Bugatti described them as “the world’s fastest trucks” in comparison to his own greyhound-slim creations.

That small boost in size enables the repro Bentley to seat two, one behind the other. It’s street-legal in Britain and the United States but not (at least not yet) in Canada. Talk about a traffic-stopper. It sells for 90,000 pounds. Plus delivery charges.

If there’s a downside (apart from the price-tag), it’s that the three cars are battery-powered. The front-mounted supercharger on the Bentley is actually the charging point.

This means you’ll have to make your own vroom-vroom noises. But some of us do that anyway, no matter what we’re driving. Unless it’s Barbie’s Corvette.