Like most things in this fast-paced world, the Canadian International AutoShow has had to evolve to keep up with the times. While still a glittering showcase of the year’s newest and soon-to-arrive vehicles, it has also become one of the most important venues for introducing new technologies.
The car occupies a place in our culture that’s become so much more than just getting from one place to the other; for some, it’s a means of continuing their connected lifestyle without interruption, for others, it’s a statement of their commitment to the environment.
For the enthusiast, it’s a manifestation of speed and power, a historic record of evolving technology, or simply an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of sculpted sheet metal.
The auto show is a celebration of all these things, with a wide variety of displays to appeal to every interest. With over 600,000 square feet dedicated to showroom exhibits, and 360,000 annual visitors (and growing), the Canadian International AutoShow is the largest consumer show in the country. Fittingly, the theme for this year’s show is “Transformative Times” and examines our changing relationship with the automobile through numerous displays featuring more than 1,000 cars and light trucks.
Here are five examples of “must-see” exhibits that you and your family won’t want to miss.
Recognizing the important role the vehicle plays in most families, the AutoShow has made a greater effort to produce exhibits and presentations that appeal to the entire family – particularly those with young children. This year there are a number of displays that let young fans see their favourite Pixar and Disney vehicles up close and in person.
The Pixar Vehicle Display recreates the setting of Pixar’s upcoming film “Onward” with a replica of main character Barley’s purple van, Guinevere, where fans are invited to take selfies. On select days there will be a wizard present who will perform illusions based on the magic spells in the film.
A life-size replica of the famous Lightning McQueen from Pixar’s “Cars” movies and a replica of Toy Story stuntman Duke Caboom’s motorcycle will be featured at the Walt Disney Studios Canada display.
An exciting display of stunt driving will take place in Castrol Alley, located in Castrol Alley on the 700 Level of the Metro Convention Centre’s South Building, when Big Boys with Cool Toys, Canada’s largest remote control hobby store, shows fans some extreme maneuvers. Backflips, front flips, and jumps as high as 30 or 40 feet are part of the repertoire.
The two decades between 1980 and 1999 formed an era defined by its distinctive pop culture – a large part of which is represented by the cars within it. Aside from the burgeoning wave of electronic music, the emergence of video games, and unmistakable clothing styles, the ‘80s and ‘90s produced its own unique brand of automotive enthusiasm with a focus on imported tuner cars.
Today those cars are considered classics to those of us who grew up in the ‘80s, and they’re showcased during “Oblivion,” a nostalgic, Ontario-based event that encourages the wearing of period-correct attire for all attendees. This year Oblivion will have its own special exhibit at the CIAS. The mood will be set by arcade games, retro music and other such nostalgia – but the stars of the exhibit will be the cars. The headliners include a replica of the modified DeLorean time machine that rocketed to fame –albeit at 88 mph– in 1985’s “Back to the Future”; and a replica of “K.I.T.T., the 1982 black Trans Am of television’s Knight Rider.
Canada has a rich military history, not only during the first and second World Wars but also in its role as a 21st-century peacekeeper in the Middle East. Thanks to the Ontario Regiment Museum, which maintains Canada’s largest collection of operational military vehicles, some of the most important new and historic machinery of this century will be on display at CIAS.
Some are returning for an encore after proving extremely popular with last year’s crowds. Of those making their debut this year at CIAS, the Canadian Leopard 1 Battle Tank will undoubtedly be the star attraction. Surprisingly, the massive tank was designed and built by Porsche, the German manufacturer of fine sports cars. This particular Leopard 1 is a C2 variant, which was deployed by Canada to Afghanistan in 2006. Although the Leopard 1 is still in use by other nations around the world, the Canadian Military retired this C2 in 2017.
Also appearing in the display will be an M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC). Employed by all NATO countries around the world since 1963, the M113 APC is still in use today. You won’t want to miss this one – the back ramp opens so that you and your family can get an up-close look inside.
The CDN Bombardier Iltis is a Jeep-like military vehicle created by Volkswagen in 1977, and licensed to Bombardier in 1983 for Canadian production. A $1.3 million federal grant helped Bombardier expand its Iltis assembly plant, which produced 2,500 jeeps for the Canadian military and another 2,500 for Belgium before ceasing production in 1989.
Another Military Zone attraction is the AVGP Grizzly (LAV), a Canadian-built Armoured Vehicle, General Purpose, built in London, Ont. The Grizzly was designed as an alternative to the M113, with room for three crew and 5-6 infantry. Powered by a 275 hp Diesel engine, the Grizzly had a maximum speed of 100 km/h on land, and 10 km/h in water and was capable of climbing a 30 percent grade.
What could be more exciting than a beautiful, exotic supercar? One that’s made in Canada, of course. Only the second-ever Canadian supercar, the Felino cB7, designed and built-in Montreal, was the culmination of a decade-long dream. The high-performance two-seater boasts your choice of a 525 hp 6.2 litre V8, or a 7.0L V8 engine producing 700 hp crammed under its curvaceous hood, and a tubular frame wrapped in viciously aggressive composite surfaces. With a reported 2.9 seconds 0-100 km/h sprint time and perfect 50:50 weight ratio, the Canadian Felino is well poised to compete in the high-end, international supercar market.
Gamers and sim racers alike will be thrilled to hear that the Canadian International AutoShow will once more play host to esports, courtesy of The World Gaming Network.
The second annual Forza Motorsport 7 WGN Championship, held at CIAS and sponsored by Pfaff Motorsports, will pit amateur and professional racers against each other for a share of the $20,000 prize pool. Every single show attendee has an opportunity to become one of the finalists during a live qualifier during the show. The racer with the fastest lap time will continue on to compete in the 16-person tournament. It’s worth taking a shot – qualified fans actually made it to the finals last year! There’s plenty of action to see for those not interested in competing, with the top 3 North American drivers at the show and racing each other for the first time.
For more information, visit autoshow.ca