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Motor Trend showcases prototypes in Fresno

Thousands of awestruck spectators lined the foam imitation streets and gawked. With newly laid carpet and up to 230 new cars from 30 manufactures across the nation, the Motor Trend Auto Show showcased its newest creations on March 31-April 2.

Hosted in the Fresno Convention Center downtown, two buildings equaling 108,500 sq. feet were filled with brand-new cars to hit dealerships in 2007.

“Never before has Fresno seen anything this big,” Paul Johnson, Toyota representative said. “We’re hoping the introduction of the Motor Trend Auto show will not only spark interest in local buyers but will offer an event for the entire families enjoyment.”

Numerous manufacturers including Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Dodge, and many others offered both cars and trucks as well a few concepts. While thousands of potential buyers flocked the three-day event, no cars were for sale.

Guests were also allowed to sit in the cars and even drive Toyota prototypes on a special off-road course consisting of 440 cubic yards of dirt and some 20 tons of gravel.

“My favorite car was the custom Chrysler 300S,” Anne Hawkins, ’07, said. “I really liked the black and white, Rolyce Royce, type exterior and the Gucci like interior.”

Others flocked towards the high-end sports cars such as the Ford GT, boasting a $163,000 price tag, as well as the Dodge Viper SRT10, 2007 Corvette Z06, and a Mustang GT500 clone.

“The Ford GT was probably the nicest car there” Michael Bowen, ’08, said “It’s pretty cool how the air dams in the front and back give actually help it gain traction at high speeds.”

While muscle cars may have attracted some, another rising interest is the hybrid. With gas prices reaching $3 a gallon, the Toyota Prius hybrid offers an astounding 60 miles per gallon in the city and 51 miles per gallon on the highway.

“A hybrid uses a gas-powered engine to gain speed, then switches to electric when cruising,” Johnson said. “Most who drive a hybrid for the first time actually find it unnerving when the engine shuts-off at a stoplight to run on its saved energy.”

Hybrids recharge their batteries by harnessing the energy released during braking, allowing for maximum economy.

Though parents, who often end up paying their teen’s gas bill, may favor hybrids, teenagers still tend to prefer horsepower over economy.

“I’d rather have a Mitsubishi Lancer than a hybrid,” David Tusan, ’07, said. “Hybrids cost as much as a high-end sports car and have half the horsepower.”

With the carpet rolled up and the cars gone, the focus now turns to the future. Motor Trend has a three-year contract with Fresno-Clovis New Car Dealers Association for upcoming shows.

“I don’t go to many car shows,” Bowen said. “But seeing the newest automotive trends is what gives the Motor Trend show something other shows can’t offer.”

For more information on Motor Trend’s prototypes for 2007, visit their website at www.motortrend.com.

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