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Frankfurt — An Auto Show That Dwarfs All Others — Car Chronicles Blog

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jeffgilbert Jeff Gilbert
Automotive reporter for WWJ Newsradio 950 and CBS Radio News....
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FRANKFURT — (WWJ) The Frankfurt Auto Show is so big, that you need a massage after walking around the eleven halls.

At least that’s what the Ford people thought, when they brought in a crew to help those attending the show’s press preview days work out some of the kinks.

I didn’t avail myself of their services. Not because I’m a tough guy. I was afraid I’d never get up. (Note: John McElroy says it was worth it.)

I shot this video to try to put it in perspective. But, imagine Cobo Center on one end, and Ford Field on another, and you begin to get the scale.

There’s also a train station in the middle of the complex. Outside of the eleven halls, there are displays, booths selling model cars and food, and lots of opportunities to take a ride on tracks. Oh, and the individual halls often have several stories.

While moving walkways connect the halls inside. There are shuttles and sidewalks outside.

What do they have that fills so many halls? It’s more than just the latest and greatest vehicles.

The home teams, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen have their own halls. Remember, each of these companies have several brands. The two American companies (GM and Ford) have the corners of one of the larger halls…with several other brands in between. And GM only had Chevy and Cadillac. No Lincoln brand for Ford. No big pickup trucks, obviously.

Chrysler only had the Jeep brand, in the same display with all of the Fiat brands. The only other Chrysler product I saw was a Lancia based on a Chrysler 300.

Also don’t forget, there are lots of brands that don’t sell in the U.S.: Renault, Peugeot, and assorted Chinese brands among them. Then there are those that dropped out of the U.S. market, like Suzuki and Isuzu.

The Frankfurt Auto Show has also become the place for suppliers. It’s one stop shopping when you want to get out in front of your customers.

Then, there’s the third floor of Hall 3. I don’t really get it, because everything was in German. But, it was the most eclectic display of stuff that I’ve ever seen. There was auto art carved out of wood and auto art with welded together gears. I saw a display of Red Cross ambulances that looked like they may have dated back to the Kaiser’s era.

And, a display of pristine Audi’s, Volkswagen’s and Mercedes from 1983. It was thirty years ago, but nobody lusts back to that 1983 model that got away. I owned a 1983 Chevy Celebrity. I know of what I speak.

So, I return from Frankfurt exhausted, but educated. I need to stop now, and take a Motrin.

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