Friday, March 25, 2005




From humble beginnings to its latest
fast and furious incarnation, the auto
show promises the latest and greatest

Now in its sixth year at the Hawaii Convention Center, the First Hawaiian International Auto Show is one of 17 produced by the same company that publishes Motor Trend magazine.

2005 First Hawaiian International Auto Show

Discount coupons available and special gifts offered at show:

Where: Hawaii Convention Center

When: Noon to 10:30 p.m. March 31 and April 1; 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. April 2; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 3

Tickets: $7 general; $5 for students, seniors and military with valid ID; $4 for keiki under 13; free for keiki under 7

Discount coupons available at the following locations:

First Hawaiian Auto Show Web site (www.hawaiiautoshow. com), participating new car dealerships, all Oahu First Hawaiian Bank branches and all Oahu McDonald's Restaurants

Call: 943-3500

Information: www.hawaiiautoshow.com


» College Night: All college students with valid ID will receive two tickets for the price of one on March 31.

» AAA Hawaii Day: First 100 paid admissions on April 1 receive a free gift; AAA Funny Car driver Tyler Taba will meet fans between noon and 8 p.m.

» Jasmine Trias Autograph Session: 7:30 to 9 p.m. April 1

» Kids Day and Giveaway: All keiki under 13 years old will be admitted free with an accompanying adult on April 3; the first 500 keiki to enter the show will receive a free McDonald's Happy Meal toy. The Hamburglar will make an appearance between noon and 4 p.m. and SpongeBob SquarePants will take photos with keiki between noon and 3 p.m.

2005 MODELS ON DISPLAY: Acura RL • Audi A6 • BMW 6 Series • BMW X3 • Buick LaCrosse • Cadillac STS • Cadillac SRX • Chevrolet Cobalt • Chevrolet Corvette • Chevrolet Crossfire Roadster • Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible • Chrysler 300C • Dodge Dakota • Dodge Magnum • Ford Five-Hundred • Ford Mustang GT • GMC Envoy Denali • Honda Odyssey • Hummer H2 • Infiniti G35 • Infiniti QX56 • Jaguar X-Type Wagon • Jeep Grand Cherokee • Kia Spectra 5 • Land Rover LR3 • Lexus RX 330 • Mazda 3 • Mercedes Benz SLK-Class • Mercury Mariner • Mercury Montego • Mini Cooper Convertible • Nissan Frontier • Pontiac G6 • Porsche 911 Carrera • Saab 9-2X • Saturn Relay • Scion tC • Subaru Legacy • Toyota Avalon • Toyota Tacoma • Volkswagen Jetta • 2006 models on display: Ford Fusion • Honda Ridgeline • Infiniti M • Lexus RX 400h • Subaru B9 Tribeca • Toyota Highlander Hybrid • Concept Vehicle: Ford Shelby GR-1

But the four-day event can trace its roots back to 1978, when a guy by the name of Walter Dods held the marketing director position at First Hawaiian Bank.

"He loved turning wrenches as a young man," said Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association executive director Dave Rolf of the bank employee who would later become chairman and chief executive officer. "The reason the auto show is so popular in Hawaii is because it had wonderful beginnings."

WHEN THE very first auto show opened its doors to local residents, it did so at the Neal Blaisdell Center.

Dods' love of cars led him to approach various Oahu dealerships for support. In the end, 13 dealers signed up to help get the ball rolling.

Over the next 22 years, generations of families visited the Blaisdell to see the latest and greatest cars arrive on island shores. The show kept getting bigger, eventually taking up both the arena and exhibition hall along with an adjacent tented area.

"In the end ... the total amount of space was about 100,000 square feet," said Rolf. "Over the years, it just grew and grew, until finally it outgrew the Blaisdell."

The move down Kapiolani Boulevard to the Convention Center in 2000 also marked a change in the level of involvement by automobile manufacturers. Instead of relying on local dealerships, the show's partnership with Motor Trend meant that manufacturers would take on a bigger role.

This year, approximately 200,000 square feet will be transformed into a racing-inspired, educational atmosphere with 35 domestic and international car makers on hand to showcase their latest vehicles.

"It's a wonderful, air-conditioned, non-selling environment where the latest is on display with experts available to answer every question," said Rolf. "It's an auto show conducted in what's been reported to be the most beautiful convention center in North America."

WITH MORE than 250 cars, trucks and SUVs parked on the carpeted floor of the Convention Center, there's literally something for every taste and budget consideration. Manufacturer experts from factories across the U.S. will make the trip to Honolulu in order to answer the most specific questions showgoers may have.

Among the highlights are brand new offerings, including the Chevrolet Cobalt, Mercury Mariner and Scion tC.

Trucks like the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma have been completely redesigned for 2005, and fans of the Ford Mustang will want to scope out a convertible version of the roadster on display. And after seeing the strong response that the Prius, Toyota's gasoline / electric hybrid vehicle, received last year, more manufacturers are introducing hybrids of their own.

Chevy has a hybrid version of its Silverado that claims to increase fuel economy by 13 percent, while Ford bills its new Escape hybrid as "America's cleanest and most fuel-efficient SUV."

And Honda reaches out to mainstream buyers again this year with the Accord hybrid, which joins its Civic and Insight models.

Toyota, not to be outdone, will introduce a hybrid version of its Highlander SUV in 2006, to go with sister company Lexus' all-new RX 400h.


BESIDES THE standard showroom offerings, there will be a number of displays that showcase the prized possessions of Oahu's more extreme car fanatics.

Members of the Z Club of Hawaii will be on hand with a collection of Datsuns and Nissans that represent each generation of the popular sportscar, dating back to the 1970s.

For the second year in a row, car club EFI Unlimited will represent with tricked-out rides of select members in the auto show's "Aftermarket Alley."

According to Rolf, however, the biggest attraction will be the exotic car display presented by JN Automotive Group. The dealership will have the latest offerings from Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Lotus on hand for residents to drool over.

"The exotics are always the single biggest feature draw," he said. "People are fascinated to look at cars that cost a quarter of a million dollars or more.

"It's exciting to see the ultimate perfection of the art of the automobile."

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