Fort Lauderdale auto show opens 25th year – Sun Sentinel
Here’s how long the Fort Lauderdale International Auto Show has been around:
When the show began 25 years ago, most cars came with AM/FM/cassette radios. Air conditioning was an extra option. Ads mentioned whether a vehicle had power windows. And GPS? What’s that?
Today’s autos are sleeker, safer and more efficient, and more than 500 of them are on display through Sunday at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
Judy Davis drove up a couple of hours from Islamorada for the show, which began Thursday. Davis, 62, remembers the cars from 1991.
“All we needed back then was just a radio,” said Davis, who in the early 1990s drove a white Chevrolet Lumina Z34 with a red interior.
Those vehicles now qualify as antique, based on the standards of the Antique Automobile Club of America, said Steve Moskowitz, executive director of the Pennsylvania-based club.
“Our rule is 25 years and older,” Moskowitz said.
Jason Wenig, owner of The Creative Workshop, a high-end classic car restoration shop in Dania Beach, said cars hit their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, when all manufacturers offered something different. Then in the ’70s and ’80s, it was as if “the engineers and accountants took over and designers were fired,” Wenig said. Cars became boxy and unreliable, he said.
“What we began to see in the ’90s was the renaissance or beginnings of the phoenix rising after the disaster of the ’70s and ’80s,” Wenig said. “Design started to get fresher, and the technology caught up with what people wanted.”
Cars are still getting better, Wenig said.
“Such a high quality has produced an environment where a lot of commercials advertising new cars barely talk about cars,” Wenig said. “They talk about infotainment.”
Cars today can drive and park themselves. They have touch-screen navigation systems in the dashboard and Bluetooth wireless to play music and make phone calls.
They’re also safer, said Robert Bauman, owner of Mad Mods auto shop in Pompano Beach. They have back-up cameras, alerts when you drift out of your lane, blind spot warning lights and voice command.
It’s enough to perplex a mechanic who’s more experienced with older, simpler cars, Bauman said.
“Every time I get a new car I say, ‘What the hell?’,” Bauman said.
Tom Podesta, 66, lives in Weston and has been coming to the show for at least 15 years. He agrees that today’s cars make drivers feel safer.
Podesta and his wife took a look around the Volkswagen area Thursday, interested in the Tiguan. They have a 12-year-old Lexus but think it may be time for a new SUV.
He’ll find plenty to look at. The show includes trucks, vans and SUVs from 2016 and 2017, with more than 20 vehicles from Ford, Toyota, GMC, Chevrolet and Buick available for test drives.
Auto dealer Rick Case founded the show to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County. Since then, the show has raised more than $7 million for at-risk youth.
If you go
Hours: 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Admission: $8 for adults and $3 for children. Children 5 and younger will be admitted free.
More information: ftlauderdaleautoshow.com.