In the spring of 1994, a new brand arrived at unsuspecting showrooms.
This was not just any new brand. It became the second
manufacturer from the Republic of Korea to sell their vehicles in the USA.
Kia arrived in the USA at a time when there was room in the
automotive market for another inexpensive offering. Yet, the market had already
turned towards the pickup truck and the SUV, even though mid-sized sedans
prevailed in terms of volume.
In the early 1990s, we experienced a few pratfalls in terms
of inexpensive offerings from new brands. Hyundai promised “cars that made
sense.” What customers received were vehicles yielding a host of quality and
reliability issues that did not meet the demands of customers in the USA.
Since 2005, the Twin Cities Auto Show has become a part of
my annual routine. Each year provided a larger personal role than before.
For example, I was presented with an opportunity to expand
my automotive media horizons in 2011. A meeting with the regional public
relations representative from Toyota offering to send a vehicle for me to do a
story on. That moment sparked this career onto new heights.
Every year since, I was welcomed by the auto show’s
management and public relations teams to see more of the show than ever before.
This trajectory continues, as I continue my role as one of the few automotive
journalists working in the Twin Cities.
Oh, Geneva, you are one expensive place. Perhaps that is one reason why I have never stepped foot inside Palexpo…
But, for those who work this show know that it takes a shift
in overall perspective to understand why this spring European show is
important. Because of the money that fuels Geneva and Switzerland, you do see a
lot of supercar reveals and other things that could be considered vulgar. Mansory’s
creations are the first thing that come to mind.
However, if you sift through the multi-million Euro debuts
and fantasy concepts, there are a few gems that are worth talking about.
Comparing one vehicle against another can go a few ways.
One, it can be a treatment towards a bias. This brand of
automobile is far more superior than the other brand. Another is to try to make
the comparison between an apple and an orange – and we’re not talking
smartphones and laptops here. Seriously, does anyone know what is in which
segment to make a competent comparison anymore?
Lastly, there is the unbiased apples-for-apples comparison.
The one match-up you rather see above all. A comparison so perfect that you
would be amazed at which one will be on top.
That is what I have come up with – a perfect comparison,
thanks to a serendipitous spark of timing.
It is not that I have been neglecting to publish reviews on
this site. I have been working through several vehicles for other publications.
In those instances, I have to adhere to a specific formula and balance to
present to those magazines and websites.
However, V&R gives me a bit of freedom. To turn a
phrase, to say something else. You get the idea.
Last year, I did several postings on a quarterly basis to
catch you up on what I have been working for those other publications. Just to
keep you in the loop, dear reader.
What have I been working on elsewhere? Let’s begin with something rather…ahem…“controversial.”
Thirty years ago, McCormick Place was the place to be.
The lights inside the exhibition hall south of Chicago’s
Loop would shine upon a return of a motoring revolution from another
generation. The new vehicle reminded us of a time when cars were easier to work
on but required a bit elbow grease to handle. It took bravery when the weather
would change to make sure the driver and its other occupant were secure from
It was not because of varying design flaws. Quite the
contrary. Since the first automobile, the idea of a roof was not completely
thought out. You drove with the elements above you without a filter.
The open roof automobile came in various ways. One such
variant on the theme was the roadster. A smaller two-seat machine that was
designed to minimal offering nothing but maximum fun.
That was the mantra among those of us who arrived in
McCormick Place for the 111th Chicago Auto Show. We may be either
new to the game or are hardened veterans of the business, but we came, saw, and
not exactly conquered what could be the only Tier 1 auto show left in the
Before we get to 2020, we have to get through 2019. Chicago
never disappointed us. At least, it never disappointed me.
Let me explain a bit of history before we dive into this game. In the time prior to receiving vehicles from the OEMs for the reviews you have read on this site, I had to rent the vehicles I eventually wrote about. It was not a conscious reason, but I figured I take the car I drove for the weekend and perhaps try my hand at writing vehicle reviews. The result has been the last eight years of content on this site.
However, there is an interesting byproduct of the practice
of rental cars. In recent years, I noticed that travelers like yourself like
posting the cars you had to rent on your business or pleasure trips you have
taken. You also coin a phrase you use to tag your rental car adventures:
Victory & Reseda is a website/blog telling the story of the automobile through the eyes of freelance automotive writer Randy Stern and friends. This website/blog serves as a virtual intersection of the automobile, its culture, the past, present and future of personal transportation. It also features travel pieces that center on the automotive experience.