Auto show proves to be a resilient draw

Karen Piper of Bordentown couldn't hide her feelings as she sat behind the wheel of a 2014 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet at the Philadelphia Auto Show on Sunday. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Karen Piper of Bordentown couldn't hide her feelings as she sat behind the wheel of a 2014 Mercedes E350 Cabriolet at the Philadelphia Auto Show on Sunday. MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Posted: February 18, 2014

The paralyzing snow that shut down schools, shopping malls, and government offices part of last week also slowed traffic to the Philadelphia Auto Show, but organizers were impressed that even on the worst day the event didn't run out of gas.

The annual, nine-day event at the Pennsylvania Convention Center that concluded Sunday kept its doors open every day in a gamble that apparently paid off. Patrons braved the elements to look at and hop inside hundreds of vehicles offered by various manufacturers, from Ford to Ferrari.

While Thursday, the day of the storm, was "a really slow day," said Rebekah Skiver, a product specialist for Nissan, she was surprised that "more people braved the weather than I thought" would show up even as a foot of snow was being dumped on some towns.

With Sunday being the last day for car lovers to get a glimpse of the 2014 show, the day's attendance was "one of the best Sundays in our history," said Kevin Mazzucola, executive director of the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia, which produces the event.

As the event drew to a close, officials said early estimates indicated that more than 200,000 visitors had come through over the nine-day period, gratifyingly close to the typical draw of 250,000.

"When you see the people brave that kind of weather to come here, it is a very positive thing for the industry in our area," said Mazzucola.

The auto show has become an annual tradition since its 1902 debut. Mazzucola described the show as "very resilient" and said the dealers association he leads was "very pleased" with the 2014 attendance.

About 40 percent of the attendees intend to buy a new vehicle within the next 12 months, according to exit survey data compiled by the ADAGP.

"The weather has been crazy, especially this morning with the ice and stuff," said Brandon Truglio, 22, of Blackwood, N.J., after he exited an $80,000 Lexus LS 460F Sport on display Sunday. "I come every year," he added. "It's nice to get in a car you cannot afford."

Aleksandra Krawczyk, 16, of Warrington, Bucks County, also was at the show Sunday, with her mother, Aldona, in a quest to find a suitable first car. A 2014 Toyota Venza SUV had caught their eye, but Aleksandra said "it's interesting to see all of the cars."

Micah Walker, 10, of Chester Township, was all smiles after he took a ride in the backseat of a Jeep Cherokee in the off-road Jeep course at the auto show Sunday. "The Cherokee is nice and soft on the seats and looks good in the inside," he said. His father, Darryl Walker, 51, said it was a "family outing" and that they would have taken the train to attend the final day of the auto show if it was too dangerous to drive.

sabdur-rahman@phillynews.com

610-313-8112

@sabdurr

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