January 29, 2016
As the Philadelphia Auto Show returns Saturday, the focus will be on hot new models, exotic vehicles and concept cars, but there's a few not-to-be-missed stops.
During a media preview on Friday, we looked under the hood for a few surprises.
The first car on the historic registry: The auto show is a high-tech spectacle for lovers of cutting-edge automotive design, but, there's also something to be said for remembering your roots.
This year, in an effort to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 24-hours of Le Mans, the oldest active racing event in the world, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is showing some of the finest cars in its collection that have competed in the legendary race.
The gem of the collection, a 1964 Cobra Daytona Coupe Prototype, is the first car ever placed on the National Historic Vehicle Register, according to Dr. Fred Simeone, the founder and owner of the museum in Southwest Philadelphia. The car, one of only six made by Shelby American in California to compete in the World Sports Car Manufacturers Championship, is in its original condition.
"It has to be an original building [to be in the Register] but, then they eventually took some battleships, then some trains," said Simeone. "But they never took automobiles."
But the Register finally accepted the car after it was uncovered sitting, untouched, in a garage after 30 years.
"This has never been restored," he said. "It was really, very much untouched."
Electric racing vehicles developed by Penn and Villanova: Philadelphia-area colleges have a place in this year's auto show with the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University displaying their own electric race cars.
Penn's car, developed by the Penn Electric Racing student organization, is a 414-pound, single-seat car that can speed from zero to 60 m.p.h. in 2.8 seconds. Villanova's vehicle, developed by a 20-member team that spends 600 hours in a garage each week, gets 105 horsepower and reaches 105 m.p.h., the team said.
Bon Jovi's Dodge Viper: A 2013 Dodge Viper GTS Coupe designed especially for New Jersey-born rock icon Jon Bon Jovi is on display at this year's auto show. The car, one of only two made with $15,000 "Stryker Red" paint, was custom ordered by Bon Jovi and just the fourth Viper off the line in 2013.
Knowing the car was being made for Bon Jovi, auto workers wrote "Living on a Prayer 'Detroit' " inside the vehicle – with permanent marker.
The DUB Show Tour: Downstairs at the auto show, attendees can see an entire floor of customized cars and motorcycles. The tricked-out motorcycles, lowered cars with booming bass audio systems and truck lifts high off the ground and covered in unique paint jobs offer a different vibe for custom car fans.
Many vendors are on hand to share their expertise with anyone who wants to learn about customizing their own vehicles.
The Camp Jeep Test Track: This has been a highlight of past Philadelphia Auto Shows and this year is no exception. Jeep has set up something of an obstacle course for their full line of 2016 vehicles to navigate. On Friday, Steve Lorton, track manager for Camp Jeep, said the course is designed to show off the automaker's capabilities, with a 13-foot-tall hill that the vehicles climb at a steep 35-degree angle, as well as a 30-degree articulation hill navigated with two wheels on the ground and two on the hill, and log obstacles.
"Everybody's welcome. Bring the family," said Lorton as he took a reporter on a test drive through the course.
The hill provides Lorton an opportunity to show off Jeep's "hill descent" feature, which helps the vehicle return down an incline without the driver needing to keep a foot on the brakes.
"It goes right up and over, no problem," said Lorton, as the vehicle returned to solid ground.
And, check out more from this year's Philadelphia Auto Show, with our photo gallery.
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The Philadelphia Auto Show will be held from Saturday through Feb. 7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch streets. Hours are Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, Jan. 31, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; weekdays from noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. For information or tickets, visit phillyautoshow.com.