This most recent Saturday (Valentine's Day) I had the fortune of visiting the CIAS in Toronto. As per usual, it was a busy day with lots to see and do. I was also in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show back in January. If you've ever gone to Detroit but never to Toronto, here's a few reasons why you might want to consider the Canadian show over the American one.
Don't get the wrong impression, I love going to Detroit. Traditionally, it's the auto show to hit and I've never been disappointed. So don't go thinking that I'm hating on Motor City.
That being said, I do think that the particular advantages offered by the Toronto show make it, in some ways, a superior choice.
1. Get Into Some Different Expensive Cars
One of the best parts about going to an auto show is getting into a whole bunch of different cars. However, things being what they are, often times the more expensive cars and exclusive brands are locked. Cars parked in auto show displays are subject to a whole lot of wear and tear in a short amount of time. In fact after only a couple of days, cars with light coloured leather seats can develop a noticeable patina.
Therefore, in order to save some of the pricier cars the public is simply locked out and the exotic brands (Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini, etc.) are cordoned off with velvet ropes and plexiglass walls. Only an appointment arranged through a dealer can get you in (or at least that's what the lady standing in my way told me).
Now typically, things are the same between the two shows. Exotics are off limits to most. But the last couple of years the public has been offered access to the Maserati line up. In terms of exotic brands, the trident is rather entry level. But that being said, you can't get near one at the show across the border.
I'll admit that if you want to sit in a Porsche, Detroit is your best bet (if Porsche decides to show up... more on that later). But if you want to sit in a Maserati, come to Toronto.
2. More Brands To Visit (Consistently)
If you were interested in a Porsche, Land Rover, Mitsubishi or even a Nissan, at some point in the past 10 years you would not be able to get the latest information or see the latest products at Detroit. I have never noticed a brand missing from Toronto (although I'm certain in the past there has been). So for a more complete picture of the offerings in the market, sometimes a visit to the show north of the border is a necessity.
3. Less Busy
This point can sometimes depend on the day, but I have had to fight bigger crowds consistently more often visiting the NAIAS than the CIAS. Also, getting to the Canadian show at the opening of the day will almost always ensure at least an hour of very few visitors. Bottom line, Detroit is hoping from the get go and Toronto takes until about noon.
4. Get into the Good Stuff
Related to point number 3, there are often hoards of people surrounding the cool cars at NAIAS. I'm talking your Ford Mustangs, Dodge Challengers, Chevy Camaros, etc. In Toronto you'll likely still have to wait, but you wont be waiting nearly as long. This year I didn't even bother trying to sit in the three cars I mentioned, but I got into all of them within a few minutes. I practically walked into the Camaro... and it was a ZL1!
5. Get closer to the New Stuff
Did anyone reading this try to get close to Ford GT at Detroit? I did. And then I quit. My uncle was braver than me (and he had a better camera) so I let him forge onward while I cowered at the back of the crowd. In Toronto, I walked right up to it. Got some good shots too! There was no way that I would have been able to do that at the NAIAS, at least not with great difficulty.
I suppose this all boils down to the number of people and the way the two shows are laid out in comparison to each other. Detroit is essentially all under one roof with tons of people gathering there. Toronto has tons of people too, but not quite as many. Also the displays are shared between two buildings, so at any one time the crowd is split up. On top of that, there are actually more brands on display in Toronto.
As a result, Detroit (while fun and a definite must to visit) is a more difficult show to access the vehicles in when compared to the show in Toronto.
There is still time to visit the Canadian International Auto Show. Check out their website for info: