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Ah, the good old North American International Auto Show. The show is finally starting to recover from the economy and creep back to it's former status. So it was nice to see most of the missing marques back this year as compared to the last few.
As opposed to last year, Mazda had an actual booth and was showing off their SkyActive drivetrain. Honestly it took quite a bit of effort to figure out the compound turbo system used because the second turbo isn't obvious at first, just a bunch of plumbing that doesn't add up. Quite an interesting system and while it's no substitute for new rotary stuff, one can see the unique engineering.
Of course many were there to see the new Corvette and in the few moments where there were breaks in the crowd I was able to get a close look as well. The basic platform continues to evolve incrementally from a mechanical standpoint but GM finally overhauled the visual design in a major way and I have to say that I like it. The huge bulbous rear end of previous 'Vettes is still there, but refined into something more proper. Opinion is mixed but personally I love the split rear window.
Toyota had a wonderful display showing some of their racing efforts. Full race stuff doesn't normally interest me so much as well engineered street customs however in this case being able to see the new fuel injection system used by NASCAR was nice. Getting a close look at the other systems in the car as well as one of Toyota's funny cars was not something you typically see from a major Japanese OEM.
I don't think most visitors to the show know there are more exhibits in the basement, but sometimes I find the basement stuff more interesting than above. Notable this year was a small showing of microcars. Call me crazy but I look at every one of those vehicles and think "I wonder if a 13B fits in that engine bay". And I'm sorry, I don't care who the company is, there is no excuse to cut up an incredibly rare Toyota 2000GT to make it into a "solar" EV. Especially when the "solar" part is just a few watts of panels glued to the hood. Shame about the car.
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