Detroit auto show: Champagne and dandelions

  • AFP, Detroit
  • Updated: Jan 13, 2015 17:33 IST

Champagne was flowing, there was poached hen breast on the menu and the sounds of The Supremes rang out from the Motown stage.

And then there were some of the world's most expensive cars.

The Detroit auto show burst into life on Monday with two sumptuous supercars, Ford's GT and the Acura NSX, grabbing the headlines -- yours for upwards of $150,000 apiece.

And after posting the best sales records in nearly a decade and Detroit emerging slowly from the dark days of bankruptcy, the US auto industry was in the mood to let its hair down.

Manufacturers have reportedly spent millions of dollars making their stands look as alluring as possible, and nowhere was that more pronounced than at Ford and its "Behind the Blue Oval" section.

William Mattiace, CUV/SUV communications for Ford, declined to tell AFP how much it had forked out on grass, blue-spruce trees and plants, including dandelions -- an incongruous sight in the middle of a convention center in clapped-out Detroit.

For the benefit of the estimated 5,000 journalists -- most of them men -- at the North American International Auto Show, the interactive display also included a man-made waterway clustered with fake blue ducks.

And plonked in the water were circular signs, one reading: "Since 2001, what percent of Ford vehicles produced in North America have used soy-based foam seating?"

Asked what "Behind the Blue Oval" was about, Mattiace said: "It's intended to be a holistic space that tells the Ford story in new and interesting ways.

"We try to be a little bit disruptive, we try to be very innovative with this space. We even have chocolate that has the same technology, the new-cell technology that we use in our vehicles.

"We wanted to bring our green story to life."

Asked how much Ford had shelled out on it, Mattiace replied: "It's a priceless adventure."

Nearby, Alfa Romeo, the luxury Italian brand, had gone for the more traditional car stand -- two gleaming cars stood over by three young women in figure-hugging black dresses.

Infiniti was attempting to sate bedraggled reporters with a lunch selection of short rib ("Braised short ribs of beef, creamy polenta, Barolo reduction) and hen breast (olive oil poached hen breast).

All washed down with wine or champagne. Which might have a been a flute too far for reporters who had enjoyed a lavish Mercedes reception on Sunday night at a luxury downtown hotel.

Every car show needs music, naturally, and there was a bit of everything to satisfy all tastes.

Honda plumped for high-octane electronic music in showing of its Acura NSX supercar, the base so intense it rattled the organs, while BMW paraded on stage a band that included two saxophonists and a violin.

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