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SUMMER 2008 | The World's Don't-Miss Car Shows

SUMMER 2008 | The World's Don't-Miss Car Shows

Whether you're a certified grease monkey or just know where the gas goes in, the world's great auto shows make a fashionable and intriguing centerpiece for any gay vacation.

The mother of all auto shows
This show (a.k.a. Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung) is the world?s preeminent auto extravaganza, a must-do-before-you-die event for gays with gasoline in their veins. European car companies time their most important product intros to coincide with this biennial show, which is so massive that it spans no fewer than nine convention halls. Wear comfy shoes and go easy on the beer!

When: Every other September
(next: September 17?27, 2009)

Starring: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi
Best attribute: Seeing cars we don?t -- and won?t -- ever get in the United States
Worst attribute: Takes two days to get through
Attendance: 1 million

America?s best car show
America?s best-by-far auto show may not be in its most desirable or gayest city, and deep January is far from the most welcoming moment of the year. But the splashy domestic and import rollouts here make it the car party of the hemisphere. The rivalry between GM and Ford is apparent by the size of their elaborate displays, and the whole show -- some 14 football fields in size -- is neatly contained in one space so you never need venture out into the Arctic blasts.

When: January, annually
(next: January 11?25, 2009)

Starring: All the familiar ?faces? of the U.S. automotive scene
Best attribute: Getting up close and personal with Motor City?s movers and shakers
Worst attribute: Motown is not really a gay mecca
Attendance: 750,000

When Detroit in January won?t do
Ironically, America?s most car-unfriendly city hosts one of the country?s best -- and most well- attended -- auto shows. Most of the concepts rolled out a few months earlier in Detroit make an appearance here in the massive halls of the Javitz Convention Center, a short taxi ride from the gay enclaves of Chelsea and Hell?s Kitchen.

When: Early spring, annually (March 21?30, 2008; 2009 dates TBA)
Starring: Most everything seen in Detroit plus a few surprises
Best attribute: Gay nightlife within striking distance of the show
Worst attribute: Costly local accommodations
Attendance: 1.2 million

Exotic locale, exotic cars
Two things make Geneva?s Salon International de l?Auto show one of the best in the world: (1) It?s full of eye candy -- this is the show in which many of the world?s six-figure exotic cars see first light; (2) It?s manageably sized, which means less time trolling the halls and more time skiing the nearby Swiss Alps.

When: Mid March, annually (March 6?16, 2008; 2009 dates TBA)
Starring: Ferrari, Lamborghini, boutique coach makers such as Pininfarina, Bertone, and Sbarro
Best attribute: Flashy Euro cars in a small but international and gay-friendly city
Worst attribute: Geneva usually hasn?t thawed out by mid March
Attendance: 700,000

French flair, fabulous cars
Paris?s biennial, Eurocentric auto show (a.k.a. Mondial de l?Automobile) hosts some massively significant rollouts?at least for European consumption. And lure the pretty people this show does, to the tune of nearly 1.4 million per year, making it one of the busiest -- and sexiest -- auto shows in the world.

When: Every other October (next: October 10?19, 2008)
Starring: Peugeot, Citro?n, Renault
Best attribute: Shopping, eating, shopping, drinking, and shopping
Worst attribute: The wallet-crunching euro
Attendance: 1.4 million

Transport?s crystal ball
Some 1.5 million people flock to the world?s most modern metropolis to peer into the future -- and not only for cars but for motorcycles, tractor trailers, parts, and other machinery as well. With such a diverse array of sheet metal, Tokyo?s biennial show is the ultimate destination for the queer gearhead or technophile. But you don?t have to be a car geek to enjoy the Tokyo show, as it also boasts the most whimsical, cartoonish concepts of any show in the world -- concepts packed with high-level technology that would make a NASA engineer writhe in envy.

When: Every other autumn (2009 dates TBA)
Starring: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki
Best attribute: The bizarrely comical concept cars
Worst attribute: Pint-size hotel rooms, supersize hotel bills
Attendance: 1.5 million

Boys and toys
In car-choked SoCal, your wheels are your very identity. Thus, at the Los Angeles International Auto Show you?ll find everything, including exotics, luxury, economy, pickups, and of course anything remotely ?green.? A bit less glitzy than Detroit?s show, it?s far more crowded, not just with straights but with many thousands of queers (WeHo is just 10 miles from downtown L.A.?s convention center, where it?s held). Indeed, there may be no better show to get your cruise on while searching for something stylish to cruise in.

When: November, annually (next: November 21?30, 2008)
Starring: All things that drive ?green? and require a lot of green
Best attribute: Boys everywhere
Worst attribute: Kids everywhere
Attendance: 1.7 million

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