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An overview of some of the displays at the show.
An overview of some of the displays at the show. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
An overview of some of the displays at the show.
An overview of some of the displays at the show. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Chevrolet showed off its South Korea-built Aveo at the Frankfurt International Motor Show on Tuesday.
Chevrolet showed off its South Korea-built Aveo at the Frankfurt International Motor Show on Tuesday. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
With a lot of show and live music, Opel unveiled its new Astra Twin Top at the show. The hard-top roof of the car folds away, turning it in to a convertible.
With a lot of show and live music, Opel unveiled its new Astra Twin Top at the show. The hard-top roof of the car folds away, turning it in to a convertible. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Keeping a BMW Z4 on display at the Frankfurt International Motor Show nice and shiney. The show opens to the general public on Saturday and runs until Sept. 25.
Keeping a BMW Z4 on display at the Frankfurt International Motor Show nice and shiney. The show opens to the general public on Saturday and runs until Sept. 25. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

FRANKFURT, Germany — If only you could saunter out the door at the end of the day with the keys to one of those snazzy new cars.

If only.

By design, auto shows aim to impress, to transport wistful visitors down an imaginary road of their liking. Too bad the dream comes to a screeching halt the moment they climb into their car and head home.

The chance to touch that dream arrives Saturday when the curtain rises on the 61st International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt. Billed as the world’s largest auto extravaganza, the biennial event is open to the public daily through Sept. 25. This year’s theme is “Cars — Fascination.”

A visit to the Frankfurt auto show is a high-octane way to spend a day, what with all the sights and sounds under — count them — 10 roofs. All of the major U.S. players are present: Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler. But that’s just the beginning.

Want to check out the mainstream foreign favorites? They’re all there, including Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Opel, Suzuki and KIA Motors.

Want to daydream — big time? Swing by and gawk at the latest that Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati, Jaguar, Bentley and Mercedes-Benz have to offer.

“Porsche is no longer just a dream,” company representative Nasr Salman said unconvincingly Tuesday as he plugged the basic Boxster model, which retails for more than $50,000, major accessories not included.

At a peek preview for the press Tuesday, many of the automakers seemed to be following in the tire tracks of Mini Cooper and Smart, displaying hip, fun-looking compact cars. Music and models added to the allure.

In all, about 1,000 exhibitors from 44 countries have floor space to show off their goods. All segments of the auto industry are represented, from tire and sunroof manufacturers to roadside service companies.

Visitors to the Frankfurt auto show would be wise to wear comfortable shoes, and perhaps bring a bag or sack to hold the fistful of brochures that are available for the taking, though many companies provide free bags.

If nothing else, a trip to the Frankfurt fairgrounds (Messe in German) to see the 2006 car models and future concepts is a feast of metal, models and music, a sensory sensation that gets one’s own wheels turning upstairs.

“These shows are like national events,” said Dave Ewing, an industry analyst who evaluates auto manufacturers’ display areas. In Germany and elsewhere, “people take days off (from work) to walk the showrooms.”

And when the tour is done, many depart with fanciful thoughts of one day driving off into the sunset in a red Ferrari.

If you go ...WHERE: At the Frankfurt fairgrounds (“Messe” in German).

WHEN: Open to the public 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., from Saturday through Sept. 25.

COSTS: A day ticket on weekends costs 15 euros (about $18.40) for adults, while children and students pay half that price, no matter if it’s a weekend or weekday. On weekdays, adults pay 13 euros (about $16). From Sept. 19-23, evening tickets are available after 3 p.m. for 8 euros (about $9.80). Discounts available for disabled individuals.

HOW TO GET THERE:

By car — The fairgrounds are at the end of autobahn 648. Follow the signs for IAA parking at the Rebstock parking lot or other IAA parking lots. Shuttle buses operate from the Rebstock parking lot to the fairgrounds. From other parking lots, public transportation is available. Traffic is typically heavy.

By rail — Trains from almost everywhere in Germany and several other countries arrive at the Frankfurt main train station (“Hauptbahnhof”). It is about a 10-minute walk to the fairgrounds (follow the signs to “Messe” or IAA), or take public transportation. Trams 16 and city trains S-Bahn S3, S4, S5 and S6 all stop at the “Messe” station. Subway line U4 stops at the “Festhalle/Messe” station.

For more information, go to the Web site IAA.de, which offers a version in English.

Source: IAA

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