2012 Detroit: My Five Favorite Finds At NAIAS

It’s hard to focus during the manic schedule of an autoshow, but these are my five favorite finds — vehicular, whimsical, etc. — I’ve seen here at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Acura NSX Concept

I’m used to witnessing polite applause at most vehicle unveils, but there was a rowdy roar of approval when the sheet was finally ripped off the new NSX concept. Are fanboys to blame? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised the audience was actually stunned that Acura decided to create something so visually stunning after years of repeating the same knife-edged form. The NSX is both organic and razor-sharp, and is packed full of details — especially the delicate buttresses that subtly wrap into the roofline — that fascinate. Here’s hoping most carry through to production in three years’ time.

Chrysler 700c Concept

We’re used to a surprise concept car appearing on an auto show stand, but it’s a little unusual when the automaker responsible for its inception remains relatively quiet about it.  Such was the case with the 700c: it’s displayed somewhat prominently on Chrysler’s stand, but Chrysler has little additional information to relay. From what we understand, its assembly and preparation was a last-minute affair sparked by the hand of Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne. The automaker may not be saying much about the van, but it hopes you will — public reaction may influence the direction of the next Town & Country.

Chevrolet Miray Concept

Despite falling into their intended demographic, I’m not blown away by either of Chevrolet’s two new concepts. Instead, the Miray — which technically debuted at last year’s Seoul Motor Show in South Korea — proved far more enticing. The hybrid drivetrain and LED accent lighting are supposedly highlights, but I love the car’s form itself. A product of GM’s South Korean design studio, the Miray reminds me quite a bit of a few concepts from GM’s glory days, notably the Corvair Sebring Spyder and Super Spyder. Much as I’d love for a non-hybrid version of this to come to market, I’m not holding my breath.

1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Yes, the new 2013 SL is supposed to be the highlight of Benz’s display stand, but an older SL — perhaps one of the oldest SLs still on this planet — managed to upstage Mercedes’ latest and greatest roadster. M-B managed to reach into its corporate coffers and ship an original 1952 300 SL — the second example ever made — to Detroit for the official launch festivities. The car, whose gullwing doors extend only to the lower edge of the side windows, has always been owned by Daimler AG, but was only recently treated to a full restoration in time for the SL’s 60th anniversary this year.

Maybach Eyewear

Okay, so it’s not a car — but placed next to one of the last examples of a Maybach 57S built was a case filled to the rim with Maybach’s designer eyewear line. “Basic” frames are formed from gilded titanium, but premium designs are actually made from 18 karat gold. Other materials available include birds-eye maple, buffalo horn, and diamonds, daahling. You may never be able to live like the one percent, but now you can see how the other half sees, at the very least.

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