Auto show opens today at fairgrounds

350 of latest models on display for 9 days

International exhibit

February 06, 1999|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

For new-car shoppers, it doesn't get much easier than this.

More than 350 of the latest models will be on display as the 15th Baltimore International Auto Show opens today for a nine-day run at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

There is a model for every motorist's fancy and pocketbook, said Terry Kohles, a spokeswoman for the annual exhibit.

The products of 35 domestic and foreign manufacturers will be displayed -- each shined to the maximum to draw the attention of potential buyers.

Motorists on a budget, or those looking for basic transportation, can compare the Kia Sephia, Chevrolet Metro, Hyundai Accent and Suzuki Swift. Each costs less than $10,000.

At the other end of the scale, there's the Jaguar XK8, which sells for $65,000; the Porsche 911 Carrera at the same price; and the Mercedes-Benz SL sedan for $82,000.

There will be 1999 models on display, along with a handful of model year 2000 vehicles, including the Nissan Xterra, Plymouth and Dodge Neon, Buick LeSabre and Chevrolet Impala.

This year's show looks even further into the future with several concept vehicles that give a hint of the direction in which the industry is moving.

One concept car sure to draw a crowd is the Plymouth Pronto Spyder, a plastic-body sports car that represents DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s effort to produce a roadster comparable to exotic European sports cars for half the money -- about $20,000.

Trucks are hot, and this is reflected in this year's exhibit.

About 40 percent of the vehicles on display will be light-duty trucks, including vans, pickups and sport utility vehicles, according to Kohles.

Trucks now account for nearly half of new vehicles purchased in Maryland and nationally.

The first truck in Cadillac's 96-year history, the Escalade, a sport utility vehicle priced at $46,525, is parked a short walk from the leader of the luxury class, the Lincoln Navigator.

The show runs through Feb. 14. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays; noon to 7 p.m. Sundays, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. Admission is $7 for adults and $4 for children under 12. Children under 3 get in free.

Pub Date: 2/06/99

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