Auto Shows

Canadian auto show celebrates another banner year

Norris McDonald
Written by Norris McDonald
If you take a close look at the photo above this story, you will see a guy standing at the left who has white hair and round shoulders brought on by years of fighting off asthma attacks. That’s me and it was taken on the last Saturday night of the 2019 Canadian International Auto Show.

I was doing my Michael Buffer imitation, the one that goes: Are youuuuu, readyyyyy to rrrrumbleeeee in an effort to get everyone attending the Auto Exotica exhibit to gather ’round for the firing up of the prototype hypercar called the Devel Sixteen.

Designed and built by the Dubai-based Devel Motor Co., it contains a 16-cylinder engine capable of producing 5,000 horsepower and was started once a night – but twice on the last night – as part of an evening celebration called Light Up the Night.

In any event, I did my best to whip that crowd into a frenzy and everybody crowded around for the big moment. I led a countdown – 10, nine, eight, seven, six, etc. – and when we got to zero that car was hitting on all 16 cylinders. We only ran it for a few seconds, because everybody would have gone deaf otherwise, but it was great fun.

The appearance of the Devel Sixteen, the SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team launch, the Lego Bugatti and some other special features drove the 2019 Canadian International AutoShow to its second-highest attendance number ever.

Over the course of its 10-day run, which came to an end last Sunday at 6 p.m. (Feb. 24), the AutoShow attracted 357,745 people — setting daily attendance records on four days, including the one-day all-time high of 54,634 set on the Sunday of Family Day weekend, presented by Allstate.

This year’s attendance number was a little more than 1,000 people shy of the record set just last year.

“The quality of the exhibits on our Show floor continues to compare favorably with any global auto show, and the interactivity we bring to the customer experience resonates not only in our market, but also in the vastly expanding international online community,” said AutoShow General Manager Jason Campbell.

“This year’s Show has enjoyed a strong run of attendance. There clearly continues to be strong interest in the AutoShow as a consumer engagement platform and great interest in the Total Automotive Experience our Show delivers better than any other.”

The online presence of the AutoShow delivered an audience of 675 million worldwide. The WorldGaming Pfaff Forza Motorsport 7 Canadian Challenge illustrated the online growth driven by the AutoShow. In 2018, the esports Canadian Challenge drew an online audience of 2,060 whereas this year’s event was seen by more than 63,500 unique viewers.

Besides the special features — like the launch of the SportPesa Racing Point team, the forum on the future of mobility in the GTA presented by the University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, the Luxury and Supercar Forum, the Barrett-Jackson exhibit, L.A. Car Culture presented by the Peterson Automotive Museum and the North American debuts of both the Devel Sixteen and the life-sized Lego Bignotti plus the return of favourites like Auto Exotica, presented by Castrol and the National Post, and Art & the Automobile, presented by Cobble Beach Concours d’Elegance and supported by Hagerty Insurance – a big hit this year was the forementioned Light Up The Night.

Light Up The Night, presented by Sirius XM, started with discount tickets after 6 p.m. But it offered more than less expensive access to the show; the feature included live fire-ups of a select supercar — and the Devel Sixteen — in Auto Exotica each day at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. and live music with Andrew Wyatt and Madeline Merlo on the Thursday evening, Sloan and the Monowhales on Friday and Tebey and Owen Barney on Saturday.

The 2020 Canadian International AutoShow, presented by The Toronto Star and wheeels.ca will return Feb. 14th to 23rd, 2020, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Keep up with news about the 2020 AutoShow at autoshow.ca. Stay connected on Instagram @cdnintlautoshow. Twitter @autoshowcanada and Facebook /autoshowcanada.

nmcdonald@thestar.ca