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Car-istmas at the 2015 Model Tampa Bay International Auto Show

Car-istmas is here! This weekend, The 2015 Model Tampa Bay International Auto Show rolls in to the Convention Center in downtown Tampa and I got a sneak preview of all of the cars and motorcycles. If you’re like me, you know what to expect: all of the hottest new cars from every manufacturer that the government will allow and even a bunch of exotics. Every year, I look forward to this show because this is the one place where you can get up close and personal with pretty much every car that you may have dreamed of buying. You can try them on, have a seat, see how it feels and feed your new car fever. This is also your chance to see some of the new cars that you’ve only seen on the internet, or if you’re my age, in magazines.
"I'm Italian, and worth $500k!"

“I’m Italian, and worth $500k!”

I got to sit in the new Corvette Stingray. I may, allegedly, be guilty of making some jokes about Corvettes in the past, but sitting in the new one has convinced me that while my jokes may be funny, I really like this car. I’ve been on the fence about the radical new design since I first saw it last year but when you get in one, it’s unlike any other Vette you’ve ever seen or driven. And that brings me to the car that was sitting behind the barriers: the revolutionary 2015 Corvette Z06.
The "Z" stands for Ziebart.

The “Z” stands for Ziebart.

If I owned a Lamborghini, I would sell it immediately and buy three copies of the new Z06 and still have money for gas. The only thing that I didn’t get to do with the new Z was sit in it. The car is so new that I’ve never even seen one before! This monster has a 650 horsepower and, for the first time ever, you can get a topless Z06!
Z06 with optional floating hood.

Z06 with optional floating hood.

Look at this thing; drop dead amazing in it’s Blade Silver Metallic paint with optional red leather, seven speed manual transmission, factory supercharger and so much carbon fibre that the aircraft industry is currently experiencing shortages. The next time you’re stuck at the airport because your plane hasn’t been built yet, blame those boys in Kentucky for using all of the fancy lightweight plastic.
One of these things is JUST like the other.

One of these things is JUST like the other.

There are usually “concept cars” at these kind of shows, but there was one car that really stood out from the crowd. It wasn’t the Prius C, finished in a lovely shade of Habanero, which I assume is Japanese for Hunters Safety Orange. It was the new BMW i8 Hybrid. Most BMWs you see on the streets are black with 4 doors and a 6 cylinder engine built with German precision for people wearing moderately priced business attire.
Just like a hair dryer!

Just like a hair dryer!

This BMW i8, however, is simply amazing. The Germans are currently making cars that other manufacturers will be making 10 years from now and the i8 is THE FUTURE. It may be a little pricey at $136K, but that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from what is in this car down the road. It has five different propulsion modes and, without going in to the gory details, I’ll just tell you that this car is insanely fast and electronically limited to 155 mph. It can also be extremely efficient and quiet, depending on what mood you’re in. Looking at it, you might think that it’s a two-seater. It is not. The interior, which I suspect was designed by future Germans, looks comfortable. Recent studies have shown that you could get 4 normal sized future Germans in there if you really wanted to. The funky swan-wing doors allow for easy entry and there is a bunch of carbon fibre and technology in this plug-in, future-car that you can buy today.  The rear window also reflects ceiling mounted chandeliers perfectly.
Reflections cost extra.

Reflections cost extra.

There is so much to do and see at this annual event. Downstairs, you’ll find a bunch of show cars, new and old, and a multi million dollar display of Ferrari’s Porsche’s, Lamborghini’s and Hulk Hogan’s Viper. Even the parking garage seems to have cool cars, like this Tesla.
At least Edison didn't steal this idea.

At least Edison didn’t steal this idea.

Sign up for a free year of Motor Trend Magazine while you’re there and take some of the cars for a test drive outside. Make sure your phone has plenty of free memory because if you’re a car nerd like me, you’ll be taking a bunch of pictures.

 

The 2015 Model Tampa Bay International Auto Show is happening now! Friday from Noon – 10pm, Saturday from 10am – 10pm and Sunday from 10am – 6pm. It’s only $12 to get in, $5 for active military, seniors and kids 7-12, and the show is free for children 6 and under. Hint: look for discount coupons at local Subways while supplies last.

 

This post is sponsored by The 2015 Model Tampa Bay International Auto Show.

 

Erica Habedank | CW44 Tampa Bay

 

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