Sunday, January 31, 2016

What you'll see at the 2016 Philadelphia Auto Show

It's Auto Show time again. It runs through Feb. 7 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
In case you missed it, I was live tweeting from the Media Preview Day Jan. 29.
A rep from Volkswagen told me over lunch that Detroit is the one and only A-level auto show. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are B-level shows, and Philadelphia is considered a C-level show. Now doesn't that just give you an inferiority complex? Philly's auto show is a fun time, and we should be proud of it. 700,000 square feet, 250,000 people and influencing $3 billion in sales doesn't sound C-level to me.
Somehow I doubt New York's going to have the Fiat Pope Francis rode in during the 2015 World Meeting of Families, like we have!  
The pope could've had a limousine, but instead chose a compact. The car was auctioned off during the Auto Show's Black Tie Tailgate preview event to benefit Catholic Social Services, Casa Del Carmen, Mercy Hospice and the Philly archdiocesan schools of special education.

One tweet that really got people's attention was of this Kia.
This year, I finally got around to doing a Camp Jeep Test Track ride. That camera wobble was due to the rough terrain of the off road simulation.
The Wrangler's 285 horsepower is sexy, but it only gets 21 mpg highway ... as opposed to the new Honda Civics that get 42. That's the truly great thing about the Philadelphia Auto Show -- you get to see what all the noteworthy manufacturers have to offer (some are even offering test drives) under one roof.
For example, you probably wouldn't think about Rolls Royce if it was out of your price range, but it doesn't hurt to look while you're here.
Dr. Fred Simeone of the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia was on hand at media day to highlight the 50th anniversary of the first American victory in the World Sportscar Championship races, and the cars from the museum's collection that won it all for the U.S. in 1966-1969. The motivation for trying to make a name for the U.S. in world racing, Simeone said, was that Caroll Shelby and Henry Ford Jr. had a mutual dislike for Enzo Ferrari, whose namesake race cars typically dominated the circuit. "Was it a big deal? Was it expensive? You're damn right," Simeone said. The rare 1965 Cobra Daytona Coupe, Ford GT 40 Mark II and Ford GT Mark IV are part of the museum's eye-catching display at the Auto Show.

Besides the new Auto Show eKEY, here are just a few of the other fun interactives at the show.

As the old Exxon ad used to say: "Happy motoring."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Brian Bingaman meets Ryan Bingham

Ever since WXPN started championing the music of Americana singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham in 2007-2008, it's given me fits of existential angst: Maybe if my name was a few syllables shorter, and had I been in Texas, I coulda been a contender!
Bingham's song, "The Weary Kind," was the main theme of the movie "Crazy Heart," and won an Oscar, a Grammy and a Golden Globe. Now that's a rare hat trick!!! Here's "Crazy Heart"'s star, Jeff "The Dude" Bridges, performing it.

I recently fulfilled a professional goal, that I used to joke about ("Who's that guy running around out there imitating my name?!"),  by interviewing Bingham. Here's a link to that story for you. When I asked him what songs he'd like to hear in a Ryan Bingham tribute show -- because you know my next step is to create a "Brian Bingaman Sings the Songs of Ryan Bingham" concert -- he left it wide open. "I just hope that whoever was doing it would play the songs that inspired them," he said.  This would be one of them.

Now how the heck do I get that gravelly, raspy Tom-Waits-meets-Steve-Earle sound? The guy is 34 years old and sounds like that.