The trucks are stealing the show Pickups likely to be center stage at '93 auto fest

January 23, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

It's called the International Auto Show, but trucks are bound to get a lot of consumers' attention when the nine-day event opens today at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The tip-off? The best-selling "car" in the country last year was not a car at all, but a Ford F-series pickup truck.

The second most popular vehicle? A full-size Chevy pickup.

"I'm not so sure we should call it the auto show anymore," promoter Raymond C. Nichols said. "Maybe we should change it to the International Vehicle Show."

Light trucks, including vans, pickups and sport utility vehicles, accounted for five of the nation's ten best-selling vehicles during 1992. Other trucks on the list included the Ford Explorer and Ranger and the Dodge Caravan.

Americans bought nearly 3.9 million trucks last year, up more than 14 percent over 1991. Car sales, on the other hand, gained less than 1 percent.

"It has become fashionable to drive a truck," says David E. Cole, director of the University of Michigan's Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation. "They're no longer considered farmer and contractor vehicles. They've become yuppie vehicles. You can go to the country club in them. "

Melanie Ortel, a spokeswoman for the show, estimated that a quarter to a third of the 300 vehicles on display at this year's motor extravaganza are trucks.

On display are trucks to match the personality, if not the pocketbook, of nearly every motorist. They range from a Suzuki four-door Sidekick, with a price of $13,899, to a Lamborghini American LM002, costing $158,000.

Dale Bradley was putting a new coat of polish on the bright red Lamborghini yesterday afternoon. "If I were a millionaire I'd have one," he said. "It's pretty much the same engine and drive train as on the sports car."

"At this price, we don't sell a lot of them," said Mr. Bradley, an employee of Motor Coach Ltd. in Randallstown, "but we sell more than you would think."

Today's trucks come with just about every option available on a luxury car, including leather bucket seats, power door locks and electric windows.

One Chevy four-door Blazer LT Tahoe listed $7,600 worth of options to boost the price to $24,700.

Mr. Cole said manufacturers have improved the ride of trucks in recent years. The off-road capabilities of four-wheel-drive vehicles have also added to the demand.

And, he said, consumers like their functionality. "Cars are getting smaller. They can't haul as much. Many of them can't pull trailers. Trucks, particularly the mini-vans, are taking over this role."

AUTO SHOW

3' Place: Baltimore Convention Center

and Festival Hall

Dates: Jan. 23-Jan. 31

Hours:

Saturdays: noon-10 p.m.

Sundays: noon-7 p.m.

Weekdays: 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

C7 Admission: $6 for adults, $3 for children under 12

Information: (410) 385-1800

1992's BEST-SELLERS

E9

Top selling-vehicles in the United States last year

(Trucks in boldface)

Vehicle.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... .. .. Number sold

1. Ford F-Series pickup.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . 488,539

2. Chevrolet full-size pickup.. .. .... .. .. .. 455,250

3. Ford Taurus .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .409,751

4. Honda Accord .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 393,477

5. Ford Explorer sport utility.. .. .. ... ... ..306,681

6. Toyota Camry.. .. .. ... .. .. .. ... ... .. .286,602

7. Ford Ranger pickup .. .. .. .. .. .. ... .. . 247,777

8. Dodge Caravan .. .. .. ... .. ... ... ... .. .244,149

9. Ford Escort ... ... .. .. .. .. .. ... ... . 236,622

10. Honda Civic .. .. ... .. .. .. .. .. .. . . 219,228

@So: Automotive News

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.