For 119 years—yes, 119—the city of New York has been one of the most important auto show destinations for automakers. The New York International Auto Show (NYIAS, for short) is a collective of some of the automotive industry’s most renowned manufacturers; each year these companies display their newest and most exciting road and concept cars, and receive feedback from prospective buyers.
You’ll notice I said some of the automotive industry’s most renowned manufacturers up above. That’s because a main staple of NYIAS did not have a booth this year. That company? BMW. Yep, one of the world’s three best-selling manufacturers in the automotive space just plain didn’t have a presence at one of the most popular Auto Shows in the country. It is especially interesting considering one of the marque’s headquarters is located right across the river in New Jersey.
Anyway, enough of that. Sit back, relax, and check out my most and least favorite pieces of the 2019 New York International Auto Show…
Favorites: Nissan’s Extensive Heritage Display
Wow. Nissan did the best job of showing that they used to make some of the coolest cars on the planet. The 50th Anniversary of the GT-R was celebrated by exhibiting several examples from their Nissan Heritage Display for the viewing pleasure of the American audience. I had the opportunity to see these same GT-Rs in Japan, but it was even more enriching to see them on American soil for some reason.
Among the examples was a beautiful GT-R Nismo in the classiest white and carbon fiber colorway. Another lust-worthy vehicle on display was a classic Kenmeri restored to look like the Skyline 2000GT-R Racing Concept. Following those two was the ugly-yet-badass GT-R LM Road Car, which was produced specifically to reach homologation requirements for top-tier racing in the mid-‘90s. Essentially just one giant loophole, the team takes advantage of the opportunity to run wider, more adept chassis in the race by manufacturing a production version of the race car, like this one.
Finishing off the GT-R display was a 50th Anniversary edition of the R35-chassis coated in the illustrious Bayside Blue hue of the older R34-chassis GT-R. Alongside that was the iconic Hoshino Racing/Team Impul R32-chassis GT-R legendary for winning basically everything in the ‘90s Japanese Touring Car Championship. Nowadays, the Calsonic sponsorship is one the longest-standing vehicle liveries in motorsport, and this is one of the cars that helped launch the colors into iconic stardom.
Nissan had plenty more going on throughout their booth, but we need to get talking about the other highlights of the show.
Alfa Romeo Brought This F1 Demo Car!
I still remember my amazement when I first saw a Formula 1 car at this very event in the Infiniti booth, back in 2015. It was a Red Bull Racing demo car, and it barely had barriers around it. I couldn’t believe it, considering I’ve adored the elite racing series for years, but had never seen an F1 car in real life to that point. (I still haven’t been to a race… I know, I know, I know. You know how they say never meet your heroes?)
Anyway, this year, the Sauber F1 Team—renamed Alfa Romeo Racing for the 2019 season—brought this demo car to NYIAS. The Sauber C37 wearing the livery of the current C38 car was a spectacle for any Alfa fans to drool over, especially considering the moniker didn’t unveil its other two booth cars until later the following day.
It was a treat for me to pore over every piece of minutiae that make up the total package. Aspects like the multi-layer front wing, the intricate barge board area, the finned floor area, and the battling jagged edges and smooth lines at the rear of the car all combined to help this car accrue 48 Constructors’ Championship points last year, good enough for 8th place in the series.
The Super/Hypercar Area
Each year, the unattainable becomes reality behind a faux Armco barrier inside the Auto Show. I’m talking about the collection of supercars and hypercars assembled in the main hall. It’s the part of the show that normally doesn’t resonate with me; because it’s so far detached from anything I’m able to afford I don’t even dare to dream. That is, until this year when that display housed a Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this vehicle, let me just explain that it encompasses what is missing from the world today—a road-legal top-tier racecar. Jim Glickenhaus is a fan of bespoke hypercars, but he’s also a fan of top-tier racing programs. So when it came time for him to create his own automobile, he created the ultimate hypercar fit for motorsports.
The Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003—yes, that’s the car’s real name—was created to compete in top-level motorsports like the 24 Hours Nürburgring, but also be the same car you can buy as a consumer. It’s the ultimate solution to the win on Sunday buy on Monday mantra, and I loved seeing its features and details up close.
Crown SpeedLab x PRIME Voltex S2000
For as wild as this kit is, I didn’t think there would be another example stateside so soon after the first was unveiled at SEMA last year. But here it is, and wow, it just keeps getting better each time I see it.
This time the NYC crews over at Crown SpeedLab and PRIME linked up to produce this outrageous green-hued AP1-chassis Honda S2000 equipped with the new Voltex Racing Circuit Version III aero kit. Each curvature of the kit was crafted with downforce and aerodynamic aid in mind. Created almost specifically for time attack, this kit found its home on a work in progress as Calvin and his team at Crown are still working making the rest of the chassis fit for track time later this year.
Similar to how the process of constructing a RAUH-Welt Begriff Porsche works, Akihiro Nakajima, the owner of Voltex Racing, was flown from Japan to NYC to attach the pieces of the kit to the car. Calvin explained to me how thorough Nakajima was, telling stories of him fitting and re-fitting the same piece almost a dozen times to ensure perfection.
While it may have looked pretty under the lights at the NYIAS, we really can’t wait to see this monster tear up some tracks later. Side note: in our SEMA Coverage from 2018, you can see Calvin planning his next project.
Not-So-Favorites: Toyota Supra
I mean, come on. Arguably the most hyped car (or overhyped, depending who you ask) to hit production in at least a decade, and this is the display Toyota gives it? This cousin of the BMW Z4 is slated to be one of the biggest shakeups to the automotive world, and Toyota perched it atop some strange off road-looking platform for the NYIAS?!
While I admired the colors they chose, the front-and-center location, and the car itself, it was the propped up display angles I found myself questioning. I couldn’t even get a good look at the cars themselves, which was unfortunate.
To top it all off, each car had a sticker on the windshield, stating PROTOTYPE. Why? The Supra is now a production car, why are they still promoting the prototype at auto shows?
Again, I’m not upset with the Supra itself at all, really. I love the design, I like that they partnered with BMW for majority of its creation, and since other BMW models with the same engine come with a manual gearbox, I’m sure the Supra will have a manual variant soon enough. My gripe is solely with the lackluster attention paid to displaying such an important car for the industry.
The All-New Porsche Speedster
I’m going to catch a load of grief for putting this one on the cons list, but let’s be real here: If Quasimodo was a Porsche, it would be the new Speedster.
What was initially teased as a concept to commemorate the Stuttgart marque’s 70th anniversary is now a limited-production model of the 911. It shares its chassis, powerplant, and front fascia with the GT3, which basically makes the new Speedster just an uglier, less-exciting version. And with a $275,000 sticker on the window, there’s an extremely long list of cars I’d buy before shelling out for a less-capable GT3 variant that gets me sunburnt.
With that being said, I’m well aware that I’m not the intended buyer for this car, nor may I ever be, but it’s at least somewhat positive that it’s only available in a six-speed manual gearbox.
From my entire trip, these elements represented what was good and bad about the 2019 New York International Auto Show. There was much more to see, so don’t miss the gallery below. I’ll catch you on the flippity-flip!