Auto show: There's something for everyone

January 13, 1991|By Ted Shelsby

Automobiles from around the world have converged on the Baltimore Convention Center and Festival Hall for the International Auto Show.

Detroit has all its familiar nameplates on display, including Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Plymouth, Buick, Lincoln, Pontiac, Chrysler, Oldsmobile and Cadillac. The domestic display also features the Saturn, General Motor's latest offering.

They have been joined by cars from Japan, Italy, Britain, Sweden, Germany and South Korea.

This year's event is billed by its promoters as the seventh annuaexhibit, but that's a bit misleading. The show was a fixture in Baltimore until 1961, when it was discontinued.

After an absence of nearly 25 years, the show returned again in 1985 and has been a fixed event ever since.

Auto shows in general date back to 1900, the era of the Stanley Steamer and the curved -- board Oldsmobile, the first low-priced, mass-produced car in the world.

The first auto show was held at Madison Square Garden, and it was not for the entertainment of the average citizen. It was gala social event. The men came decked out in tuxedos, and the women wore their best evening gowns. Cars were expensive back then -- way beyond the financial means of most people -- and some of the early motorists were Rockefeller, Astor and Vanderbilt.

Black ties are not required at the Baltimore show, but there is an admission fee: $6 for adults and $3 for those 12 and under.

The show runs for 10 days. It began yesterday and concludes on Jan. 21.

The hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21. On regular weekdays, the show gates open at 5 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.

Tickets can be bought at the Pratt, Sharp and Camden street entrances.

What's new in 1991 models? Here are some things to look for in the new models:

*Chrysler has beefed up the horsepower of its four-cylinder Jeeps. There is a three-door hatchback model of its Eagle Summit, and an automatic transmission for its all-wheel drive Eagle Talon. The Chrysler line now offers anti-lock brakes as standard or optional equipment on all models.

*Plymouth has redesigned it Voyager and Grand Voyager minivans, and they have been given four-wheel drive.

*New from Dodge is the 300-horsepower Stealth, a sports coupe featuring four-wheel steering and all-wheel drive.

*Ford has given its top-of-the-line family sedan, the Crown Victoria, its first major redesign since 1979. The company has also given its Escort line a new aerodynamic look and has added a station wagon to the lineup.

*Pontiac, which underwent a major transition in the 1960s from a grandmother car to a racing

machine, has moved again to enhance the performance of its cars with the introduction of a 24-valve twin V-6 engine for the Grand Prix and anti-lock brakes on the Grand Am.

*Chevrolet is introducing the Caprice station wagon, an aerodynamic sibling to the redesigned Caprice sedan that made its debut last year. It has also made some cosmetic changes to the back end and tail light arrangement on its Corvette.

*Geo has added a hatchback to its Storm line of cars.

*Buick has brought back the Roadmaster name on a new family of full-size vehicles featuring V-8 engines and rear-wheel drive.

*Oldsmobile has jumped into the growing sport utility market with its all-new Bravada.

*Cadillac has put some more muscle into its V-8 engines and added electronically controlled transmissions to the De Ville/Fleetwood, Seville and Eldorado models.

*Infiniti, the high-priced luxury car from Japan, will emphasize technology this year with the introduction of traction control on its Q45 model. It uses technology similar to anti-lock brakes to provide stable traction even in the slush and snow.

L *Honda has come out with a station wagon in its Accord line.

*Mazda is offing its own entry into the sport utility market with the introduction its Navajo. It will also offer its sports car, the Miata Special Edition, in British racing green this year.

*Hyundai has added the Scoupe, a two-door coupe to its 1991 model list.

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