2014 Los Angeles Auto Show Highlights

Last week I had the good fortune of spending 10 days in Los Angeles, California leading up to the 2014 L.A. Auto Show.  The L.A. Auto Show is an event that hasn’t quite found its stride.  Last year, there were several important product debuts made at the Convention Center, such as the next-generation Subaru WRX, but that momentum didn’t carry over to the 2014 edition of the show, as manufacturers generally resisted announcing anything too ground-shaking one month in advance of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

That being said, there were definitely some vehicles that caught my eye in L.A.

Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo Concept

Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo

If you had told me 10 years ago that video games would be driving some of the most intriguing real-world concept cars in the industry, I wouldn’t have believed you.  And yet here we are in 2014 with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Volkswagen, Nissan, and now Chevrolet partnering with Sony’s Gran Turismo driving simulator franchise to build cars that look like they’ve escaped from the fertile imagination of a Hot Wheels design.  Who would ever have thought that Chevrolet especially would produce something like the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo, which claims a laser propulsion system that is ‘theoretically’ possible.  I love that this kind of spirit is back in metal and glass, and the Chaparral was one of my favorite designs as the show.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept
Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Concept

Infiniti needs to build this car.  Maybe they won’t sell all that many of them – after all, even Mercedes-Benz doesn’t do huge numbers with its full-size coupe.  But with Audi promising to construct a car in the spirit of the Prologue concept they brought to L.A., Infiniti is facing a major opportunity to go head-to-head with Germany and produce a flagship that has been missing since the Q45 morphed into the mid-size M that sits at the top of the automaker’s existing lineup.

2016 Jaguar F-Type R AWD
Manual Transmission Jaguar F-Type (AWD model pictured, but you get the idea)

The Jaguar F-Type coupe and roadster are outstanding examples of style, power, and sheer driving exhilaration – in essence, the opposite of what’s been pouring out of BMW and Mercedes-Benz over the course of the last five years.  The only thing missing, from an enthusiast’s perspective, was a manual transmission, something I never expected to get from Jaguar given how few shift-it-yourself fans actually buy cars these days.  But here it is: six-cylinder editions of the F-Type will gain a standard box for the 2016 model year, forever sealing a place in my heart for what was one of the favorite cars I drove this past year

Cadillac ATS-V.R

Cadillac ATS-V.R

How gorgeous is this racer?  Cadillac is looking to maintain its CTS-V.R success in Pirelli World Challenge with the GT3-spec ATS-V.R, a new platform that switches to twin-turbo six-cylinder power after years of large-displacement V8 dominance.

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