High time it was show time

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Welcome - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE EDI­TOR paul.pot­tinger@news.com.au

A SPOT of cy­ber arche­ol­ogy un­earths the tomb of the Aus­tralian In­ter­na­tional Mo­tor Show. It’s not dif­fi­cult to find. You needn’t wade into the semi­le­gal swamp of the deep net.

It sits in its pub­lic do­main, as in­ert and for­get­ter as the 2012 plate model no one wants to buy. That was the year AIMS failed, a mere three af­ter the pre­vi­ously ri­val Syd­ney and Mel­bourne events joined forces. The first half of this joint ven­ture con­sisted of the Federal Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries, the self-de­scribed “or­gan­is­ing body” of the Syd­ney show, which it stub­bornly held at the in­ad­e­quate and in­ac­ces­si­ble Dar­ling Har­bour Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre. Its Mel­bourne fa­mil­iar was the Vic­to­rian Au­to­mo­bile Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Hav­ing at great length got­ten over them­selves, these au­gust bod­ies merged show man­age­ment, agree­ing to host in al­ter­nate years. Yet AIMS re­mains co­matose and Aus­tralia is with­out a mo­tor show for the first time since the 1940s.

Sched­ul­ing the can­celled 2013 Mel­bourne edi­tion in the same fi­nan­cial year as the 2012 Syd­ney event (one poorly at­tended by car com­pa­nies and sub­se­quently the pub­lic) was not in­spired. Cars­guide, among oth­ers, be­seeched or­gan­is­ers to push the 2013 event back from June — barely nine months af­ter Syd­ney — to Septem­ber or Oc­to­ber.

The “rea­son” for not do­ing so, at least as ex­plained to us? Don’t want to clash with the AFL Fi­nals. Of course. Why stage a mass pub­lic event at a time when the masses are flood­ing pub­lic spa­ces ...

On an­nounc­ing the col­lapse, AIMS’ spokesman said he “wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily say” man­u­fac­tur­ers were over the thing. He needn’t. They are more than happy to do so.

No, car shows have not been “killed by the in­ter­net” as on­line hacks sagely ob­serve when not com­pul­sively repli­cat­ing each other’s “sto­ries”. Car shows can and should sur­vive. Any­one who has seen a de­cent mo­tor expo — a la Frankfurt (pic­tured) — kind of gets that a web gallery or live feed does not ap­prox­i­mate see­ing and feel­ing the metal.

Read­ers want an Aus­tralian mo­tor show. That thou­sands watch the Top Gear buf­foons make fleet­ing ap­pear­ances at a track day be­tween smok­ing cig­a­rettes back­stage in­di­cates an ap­petite for a car show. It’s one shared by many car com­pa­nies, con­tin­gent on their not hav­ing to pay ex­ces­sively in or­der to cram their wares into a dump. As a show­case for buy­ers, mo­tor shows are in­valu­able.

Mel­bourne, al­ways streets ahead of Syd­ney in stag­ing spe­cial events, looks set to re­vive the flame next year in what will doubt­less be de­scribed as Gen­er­a­tion Next, in­ter­ac­tive, hi-tech fizz feast. Which is nice. But punter par­tic­i­pa­tion nov­el­ties are the mer­est sideshows. Fairy floss per­si­flage. They work only if the ba­sics are in place and that re­quires a big, open venue where car­mak­ers can dis­play their mod­els (their au­to­mo­tive mod­els, not the hu­manoid va­ri­ety with which too many still feel the need to adorn their cars) so that pun­ters can get in and around them.

The for­mula is not ob­scure.

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