Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Canadian International AutoShow Revisited: 2009 Edition

auto show day 4 194
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

 


Theme of the Show: The New Era

The first Canadian International AutoShow I attended, the 2009 Toronto exhibition was an event that operated in an uncertain economic time for the industry. 

The great recession ended the decade causing considerable reassessments on many fronts. With roughly 1,674,100 vehicles sold in Canadian during 2008 equating to a roughly 1 percent drop compared to the previous year, the data actually showed a radical increase in passenger car sales while truck sales fell to its deepest level in seven years. Smaller, economical cars were favoured among new vehicle buyers while traditional truck-like struggled as a hangover of high gas prices and over-saturation of the marketplace. The fickleness of the 2009 buyer would be highlighted when auto sales took a deeper plummet in Canada with 1,484,900 new vehicles sold.

Besides the attitude of car buyers, the biggest change that would appear over the course of 2009 was among the automakers. General Motors and Chrysler Group both filed for bankruptcy following the wrap of the Canadian International AutoShow. The 2009 show was the only occasion for me to see Pontiac, Saab and Saturn exhibited as new cars. General Motors would also remove the Hummer brand but the name is currently being revived as an all-electric vehicle under GMC starting for the 2022 model year.

Following my attendance of the 2009 auto show, I purchased a higher resolution, more capable digital camera. With that being said, I would certainly like to believe that my photography his improved over the course of 12 years. 


Notable Vehicles:


Chevrolet Volt 

chevy volt 2009
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Chevrolet’s first dedicated electrified vehicle, the Volt plug-in hybrid arrived for sale in 2010 as a 2011 model. In its final production form at the 2009 Canadian International AutoShow, the first generation Chevrolet Volt featured the capability of running up to 56 kilometers on solely electric power. Though the Volt plug-in hybrid was viewed as a breakthrough vehicle that would guide Chevrolet, General Motors and perhaps the whole North American auto market as a whole to a new era, the $41,545 Canadian price tag (before government incentives) for a well-trimmed compact sedan was a significant tether preventing it from becoming a total success. 


Chevrolet Camaro SS

auto show day 3 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


While a great deal of media buzz situated on how the Chevrolet Volt could be the vehicle that would lead new General Motors to prosperity after its inevitable bankruptcy, a legend of old General Motors was being prepared for its own rebirth. A nameplate dormant since the last vehicle coasted off the defunct Sainte-Therese, Quebec plant in 2002, the Camaro was returning to showrooms for the 2010 model year. Based on the 2006 Chevrolet Camaro concept, the new production vehicle’s style was heavily inspired by the first generation variant with a classic muscle car shape. While the Camaro SS’s 426-horsepower LS3 V-8 engine was the primary choice for performance lovers, a 312-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 engine was also available. When I arrived at the 2009 Canadian International AutoShow, the Chevrolet Camaro SS in Inferno Orange with white striping was the first vehicle I ever sat in at the event.    


Nissan NV2500 Concept

auto show opening day 182
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


In 2021, Nissan has carved out a small niche in the North American light duty commercial vehicle marketplace that generally favoured domestic brands. Back in 2009, years after introducing the full-sized Titan pickup truck, Nissan began their endeavour to enter the work vehicle sector in the United States and Canada. The Nissan NV2500 Concept functioned as a glimpse at the full-sized commercial van the automaker would ultimately produce in 2014 at a facility in Canton, Mississippi. The concept version of the vehicle aggressively advertised its versatility with a fold-down exterior table and a side cargo door complete with tailored mounting for work tools.  


BMW Z4

BMW Z4 Roadster
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Introduced as the pure expression of BMW’s driving excellence, the Z3 roadster provided the base line for what became the Z4 that debuted in 2002. By 2009, the BMW Z4 received a considerable refresh that saw the two-seater gained an extra level of maturity. Along with becoming exclusively a retractable hardtop sports car featuring a two-piece aluminum roof structure, the second generation BMW Z4 boasted iDrive control and three powerplant choices including an available 306-horsepower, twin-turbocharged, direct-injected inline six. The new BMW Z4 was also notable within the brand for employing female design talents. Julianne Blasi styled the sleek, longer exterior of the retractable hardtop vehicle while Nadya Arnaout sculpted the driver-oriented interior featuring high-class materials and improved elbow room.   


Kia Forte Sedan and Koup Concept 

Kia Forte Coupe Concept
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Selling vehicle in Canada for more than a decade by 2009, South Korean-derived Kia Motors established itself mainly a budget auto brand with somewhat underwhelming styling. However, as the make stood on the border to a new decade, Kia began to plant seeds for more emotionally stimulating designs. Making its Canadian debut at the 2009 show, the 2010 Kia Forte sedan featured smart yet sporty presentation sculpted by the brand’s California design studio. Also appearing at the Canadian International AutoShow as a concept, the Koup Concept was a more exciting two-door image of what Kia’s compact car could be. Although the coupe was classified as a concept, the second, more aggressive body style was swiftly added to Kia’s production line. The Kia Forte is currently a leading vehicle in the compact category but the Koup model was discontinued after the 2016 model year.  



Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider 16M

Ferraris on display at 2009 Canadian International AutoShow
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Located on level 800 across the Hyundai vehicle display floor, there was a small grouping of exotic vehicles representing one of Italy’s most popular sports car companies. The Ferrari brand was represented by four examples of the performance brand’s latest speed machines. Though the Ferrari California retractable hardtop convertible was highlighted by the auto show, a vehicle found towards the front of the display was the F430 Scuderia Spider 16M. A special edition model created to commemorate Ferrari’s 2008 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship (the team’s 16th and most recent as of start of the 2021 season), the Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider 16M was finished in a Giallo Modena Ds yellow exterior accompanied by the available tricolour striping. The special edition 16M version of the mid-engined sports car included a 503-horsepower V-8 engine paired with a fast-responding 6-speed electro-hydraulic transmission as well as lightweight steering wheel and seating structure incorporating carbon fiber construction. Only 499 examples of the Ferrari F430 Scuderia Spider 16M would be built. 




Chrysler Town & Country EV ENVI Concept

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


During the short-lived existence of the Chrysler Group that operated under a private equity company, the automaker was between their divorce with Daimler-Benz and their eventual merger with Fiat Group. Despite being in a precarious financial situation, Chrysler Group intended to produce a lineup of innovative electrified vehicles through the ENVI program. A plug-in hybrid concept of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan was presented on the brand’s 2009 exhibition space touted 64-kilometer all-electric driving range and a combined range of 644 kilometers. The lithium-ion battery pack was fitted within the location of the traditional Stow n’ Go bins. Creating several concepts, the ENVI program ended without any production models released to the public.




Honda FC Sport Concept

Honda FC Sport Concept at 2009 CIAS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


One of the more radical idea cars shown at the 2009 Canadian International AutoShow, the Honda FC Sport Concept was a bold, three-passenger sports car (placing the driver in the middle similar to the McLaren F1) centrally-located at the front of the auto brand’s exhibition space. Propelled through the power of a hydrogen fuel cell, the concept envisions a strict performance look accompanying the technology that was already appearing in Honda’s limited production FCX Clarity. The Honda V Flow fuel cell and the battery pack were located as close to the center of the FC Sport Concept as possible for optimized weight distribution. Exterior panels made of bio-plastics, Formula 1-inspired aerodynamics and an upward opening canopy also defined the Honda FC Sport Concept.




Special Exhibitions:


Cruise Nationals

auto show opening day 044
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


A component of the Canadian International AutoShow since 2006, Cruise Nationals assembled 10 of the finest classic vehicles spotted at cruise events close to the Greater Toronto Area. Selected vehicles can be a stock restored model or could be a personalized custom car or truck. Every automobile present on level 700 of the south end of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre came with a story from a proud, dedicated owner. For the 2009 auto show, the Gold Champion recipient was Roger Thibault’s 1936 Ford pickup truck. Steven Bloom’s 1933 Ford convertible took the Silver award while a Ralph Porco’s 1972 Dodge Challenger took bronze.

 


Corvette! 

Corvette Mako Shark Concept Car
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Primarily assembled inside a relatively small room on level 700 just beyond the Cruise Nationals vehicles was the 2009 Canadian International AutoShow’s Corvette! Showcase. Including beautiful examples of the then six generations of the Chevrolet Corvette, the exhibit also included a pair of concepts noteworthy for any major fan of the American sports car. At the entrance of room, the 1962 Mako Shark design prototype contained a slew of styling cues that would be found on the Corvette Sting Ray introduced in 1963. Another influential concept of Corvette’s past included at the 2009 display was the Manta Ray. Starting life as the Mako Shark II that give shape to the C3 Corvette production car, the Manta Ray featured numerous design modifications and an all-aluminum ZL-1 engine. 


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