Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show draws buyers and dreamers. – Allentown Morning Call

Posted: Monday, March 24, 2014

To afford the $64,335 yellow 2014 Chevy Camaro convertible he was sitting in Saturday at the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show, 16-year-old Jon Barber would have to work about 8,873 hours at his job at Jake’s Wayback Burgers in Schnecksville.

But a guy can dream, can’t he? For Jon and his father, Jeff, both of North Whitehall, the auto show is an annual pilgrimage where they join thousands of others at Stabler Arena and Rauch Field House in Bethlehem to see what’s new in the world of cars.

“These shows do work because we ended up purchasing a vehicle after seeing it in the car show,” Jeff Barber said.

While that Nissan Pathfinder turned out to be a good car, Jon’s taste ran toward the Mustangs, Camaros and Rolls-Royces he was seeing Saturday.

In the luxury car section, patrons got to admire a $155,630 silver Maserati. By comparison, the $77,000 Jaguar and the $70,445 Lotus Evora looked like steals. There were enough BMW Mini Coopers to re-enact the movie “The Italian Job.”

David Holmes of Coplay brought his sons, Christian, 9, and Andrew, 14, and their grandfather, Paul Flemming โ€” all Jaguar fans, though Christian said he wouldn’t mind if his first car were a Bugatti Veyron, which has a sticker price of about $2 million.

“You better get a job now,” his grandfather told him.

Still, there were plenty of vehicles for people who don’t have $2 million to drop on their next set of wheels. Fred Shahadi, a product specialist from Toyota, said he was seeing lots of interest in the company’s hybrids, especially the Prius, and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

“Because of the brutal winter that Pennsylvania has suffered, we’re seeing a lot of interest in all-wheel-drive vehicles,” Shahadi said.

“What’s nice about auto shows is it gives you a chance to kick the tires without the pressure of being sold to,” he said.

If patrons want more information about a model, Shadadi can send them a brochure or have a local dealer call them.

Dan Walczyk, who was running the Ford test drive site in the adjacent parking lot, said he was seeing much more interest than last year, especially from people wanting to drive the hybrid models.

Some of the auto show patrons gravitated to the classic cars brought in by the America on Wheels Museum in Allentown. Father and son Al and Anthony Grochowski of Northampton appreciated the six muscle cars, which included a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe Coupe, 1969 GTO and Ford Thunderbirds from 1955 and 2005.

“They are well built and they have a look of their own,” Al Grochowski said.

He owns an extremely rare 1924 Jewett โ€” and shows it at antique car shows.

Local car dealers weren’t going to make any money off Anthony Grochowski, a mechanic who drives a 1978 Dodge D-100 pickup truck that has all its original parts.

Thanks to Air Products of Trexlertown, patrons also got to see cars of the future.

Ross Strebig of Air Products answered questions about his company’s partnership with Toyota to build a car that runs on hydrogen. The car, which looks a bit like a Ford Flex, has zero emissions and makes no sound. Air Products provides the hydrogen and will supply fueling stations that are being built this year in California, he said.

Tom Kwiatek, executive director of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association, which runs the show, said he expected turnout for the four-day event to be about the same as last year โ€” about 50,000 people. But Kwiatek said the size of the crowd isn’t as important as the show’s effect on local car dealers.

“For us, the success of the show is based on what do our dealers see in their showrooms after the show,” Kwiatek said.


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