By Erica Habedank

Some people look forward to November for Thanksgiving, the change of seasons and Back Friday (or is it Cyber Monday now)… but not me. I’m a car person. Every November, I look forward to the Tampa Bay International Auto show, but I’m weird.

I’ve owned 36 cars in my life and I couldn’t pick a favorite. You’re probably thinking to yourself “36 cars seems excessive for a woman in her 40’s, she must be crazy.” Maybe I am and maybe I know it’s a problem, maybe I don’t care. My daughter and I just got home from the 2014 edition of shiny, motorized eye candy at the Tampa Convention Center and, as usual, there’s something for everyone. That familiar, two-lane, black-top rug that leads you from room to room is the first sign that you’re in for a treat. The smell of tires as you walk in to the first room is something you just can’t duplicate. You can see most of the new cars that have just hit the showrooms all in one place. The best part is that you won’t find a single salesman preparing to approach you to find out what it will take to put you in a new car today as soon as you throw your keys in your purse.

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

We like to take pictures in our family. This has been made even easier with the advent of technology that will likely turn on us like in the Terminator movies. My 11-year-old daughter seems to have the same car gene as me (poor girl) and has filled her iPad up with some great shots of all of the exotics and some of the classic muscle cars downstairs. What’s really annoying is that my mini-me takes way better pictures than I do. I suspect it’s because she’s 4’ 6” tall and the angles are better from down there. The kid loves Mustang, especially the ones with “snakes on the fenders.” She wants to sit in every car she can and this year, when she plopped down in a Sterling Grey GT500, all I could think to myself was “ Aww, baby’s first Shelby.” I couldn’t be more proud and I suppose I’ll have to teach her how to drive a stick shift now. Her perspective on cars is fascinating; I assume, because of the height thing. When we saw the new Mini-Cooper display, she really loved the little green convertible that was amidst the larger, Clubman versions. She told me they should call those bigger ones “Medium Coopers.”
Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

We love seeing the classic cars they have downstairs too. Everything from 427 Cobra’s and Hulk Hogan’s Viper, to the especially gorgeous 1970 Pontiac GTO that looks like the one I had when I was in high school. The kid in me secretly loves the “Hey look how hot I am as I gracefully get out of this thing” exotics like the Ferrari’s, Lamborghini’s, Maserati’s, Aston Martin’s, Rolls Royce’s,  McLaren’s and that beautiful, matte finished Mercedes SLS with the gull-wing doors that was painted “No Really It’s Not Primer Gray.”
Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Every year, there’s that one “it car” and this year, “it” didn’t disappoint. The centerpiece of the Chevrolet display is a stunningly beautiful Laguna Blue 2014 Corvette Stingray. You can even sit in it and feel like you’ve time traveled to some future paradise that takes place shortly before The Jetsons’ flying cars. Pictures of this car do not do it justice. From my tall camera angle, the new Vette may look like a Nissan GT-R and a Camaro had a drunken night together and then, 9 months later, along comes baby Laguna Blue Stingray. To appreciate what the new C7 Corvette is, you really MUST see it in person.
Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Photo Credit: Erica Habedank

Nearly every manufacturer on the planet has a nice spread at the cavernous convention center and, when you go, plan on spending at least a few hours or more. There’s food, some light shopping upstairs and even a great display of some of the fastest motorcycles that my mom won’t let me ride anymore. The show just keeps going and going and going… If you want to test drive something, you CAN. There are dozens of brand new cars that you can take for a spin and, the best part is, there isn’t any pressure to “put you in anything today.”
I don’t know about you but, I like living in the future.
The Tampa Bay Auto Show is at the Convention Center in downtown Tampa through Sunday (11/22-11/24). It’s open from 10am-10pm on Saturday and from 10am-6pm Sunday. It’s only $9 for Adults, $5 with military ID, if you’re a picture-taking kid 7-12, or a senior citizen. Kids 6 and under are free and tend to take amazing pictures. Enjoy.
Erica Habedank/ CW44 Tampa Bay

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