Chevrolet Dazzles the City of Light

Don Sherman

Any mention of baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie zips the mind straight to Chevrolet. But because these all-American icons lose their flavor on the trip across the Atlantic, some translation is necessary for continental consumption. On the eve of this year's Paris Motor Show press day, Chevy expressed its spirit through couture, canines, and classic cars.

Chevy's European arm hosted a memorable evening featuring dog and pony shows as the prelude to a haute couture extravaganza called the Chevrolet Fashion Catwalk. Given that Paris was concurrently hosting the world's most celebrated fashion week, the timing was perfect.

The opening act consisted of a highly trained white steed dancing a repertoire of trots, gallops, gaits, and canters. A second equine pawed hooves in the air as if to say that Ferrari isn't the only brand paying homage to animals put out to pasture by the automobile.

Held at Paris's Theatre du Merveilleux in the Pavillons de Bercy, this pageant was built around a festival of vintage and contemporary Chevies. The golden oldies were a 1931 touring car (the first Chevy with four-wheel brakes), a '57 Bel Air convertible (celebrating the small block V-8's move from 265 to 283 cubic inches), a '63 split-window Corvette Sting Ray coupe, and a '76 Camaro in fashionable bumble-bee attire (the very car that starred in two Transformer movies).

The point of the exercise was to preview the four Chevrolets that would bow the following day for European sale: a Captiva cross-over (known as Equinox in the US), a hatch-back edition of the compact Cruze (deemed unpalatable for US customers), a fully refreshed Aveo (which we'll see next year), and an Orlando seven-passenger wagon (the star model expected to be a hit in Europe but also not intended for US consumption).

Not to be left out, the subcompact Spark -- the first modern Chevy introduced in Europe -- also served a major role in the evening. There were four special Art Sparks standing in as vibrant static displays. One was revamped inside and out by Mischa Woeste, a Berlin-based lead designer for the Smeilinener label who used flamingoes, dragons, fish, and butterflies in her design. The second car, called the Spark DJ, was a working mobile disco system developed by a team of British audio engineers. The third set piece was a Spark Woody Wagon dressed by GM designers in a sixties surfin' safari theme.

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