[To see all our ‘06 LA Auto Show pics, go to the BTG Motoring Website Gallery, click on “Shows” and then on “LA Auto Show 2006″.]

BTG Motoring went to the Greater Los Angeles 2006 Auto Show this week and if we didn’t get many of the latest and greatest concept vehicles that are showing up at the ‘06 Detroit Show as I write this, we did get a few. Like for instance, the Chevrolet Camaro Concept!

Check out that Camaro!. The Bow Tie Division of the General might have a winner on its hands if the boys in the big offices can figure out a business model that will let them do it. In the announcement of this important GM show car on their corporate blog, Fastlane, Vice Chairman Bob Lutz has this to say about the new Camaro:

If I had a dime for every time I’ve read the word “Camaro” in your comments on this blog in the past year, I could have financed the concept car out of my own pocket! And I would have… I like it that much.

If anything, it proves that we’ve been listening… to the rear-drive faithful… to the Camaro fanatics… and to those who say GM can’t do anything exciting. I think our design staff did a great job on the concept, which really demonstrates the renewed focus on design throughout GM.

We also got to see GM’s new big SUVs, the Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. Overall they are all nicer on the outside, but the big news for these land yachts are the interiors. Who would have ever thought that a Chevy dash would look like this? Or even that a Caddy Truck dash would look like this? Cadillac truck still sounds like an oxymoron, but the Escalade is an unqualified success, so there!, as my mother-in-law would say.

The Pontiac Solstice, one of the show’s darlings last year, showed up in GTP guise with a cute dual exhaust setup and 50% more horsepower via a turbo on the Ecotec DOHC 4-banger. Saturn had its Kappa sister car there as well, the Sky, but they weren’t letting anyone touch it this time.

Lutz has been blogging about this little Pontiac, too.

The GXP version is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo direct injection four that makes a quite enjoyable 260 horsepower (here’s where I’m forced to add the word “estimated” because the final numbers aren’t in yet — but that’s right in the ballpark), which is nearly 50 percent more than the current Solstice. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

We like cake! However, all was not beauty and light at the GM displays. Buick had Lucernes with odd 3-color dash/door combinations that certainly wouldn’t make the cut at Lexus, which is the new Buick target. Caddy had the new Escalade — nice inside but tamer outside than before — and the “V” versions of the STS and XLR, which we saw there a year ago. The Hummer H1 has some interior upgrades, and then there’s Saab . . . yawn! You actually did get to sit in the Z06 Vette this year, which is pretty cool. Nothing new at Olds though - heh!

Audi had its uber-powered S8 on display in the most gorgeous dark gray-blue metallic color that you could imagine. Beautifully detailed both inside and out, it really made you want to scrounge up 120+ large and go motoring!

In the same hall, Hyundai of all companies had this Neos III concept crossover vehicle on their turntable.

Considering the source of this vehicle, it was quite amazing. The interior was stunning and most of the details were executed well. Only the grill area showed that it truly is a Korean car.

But, before I run out of steam, let’s look at the Bugatti Veyron.

$1.2 million retail price, over 1,000 hp, zero to 62 mph in just over 2 sec. and a top velocity of 253 miles per hour make this the Big Daddy Monster of this year’s show, or maybe any year’s show for that matter. That in the metal, or should we say carbon fiber, it’s more impressive than any photos that we have seen. Next to the Spykers and Bentleys, across from a gaggle of white Lamborghinis, the Veyron drew a consistent and admiring crowd.

Maserati had its 2005 Pininfarina Maserati Birdcage Concept. Out here in LA we usually get last year’s concepts, but still this was interesting to look at.

Another case in point is the Chrysler Firepower, which was at Detroit last year and we saw it at this year’s SEMA show in Vegas, but was still nice to see again. Much nicer inside and out than the Caddy XLR, this vehicle deserves to be built and sold!

And, Lexus had its LFA, which was also shown before at the ‘05 Detroit show.

This certainly isn’t your Uncle Ed’s VW Beetle!

Afraid that the ol’ digital ran through its batteries before we got to Ford/Lincoln/Mercury, but not much to see there. The Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, and Lincoln Zephyr are pretty nice, with all being based on the Mazda 6 platform. Porsche had its new Cayman S and Audi finally has its own stretched version of the Touareg/Cayenne — the Q7.

Mercedes had the new S-class (sorry, no batteries!), and oddity of oddities, Dodge had all of its Chargers and Magnums locked up tight — no one could sit in any of them, although the Benzs next door were wide open for all to play with. Weird!

We enjoyed the show, but every year these things seem to be less and less exciting. I have a theory about that and it is: That we see all these new vehicles so many years in advance, that when they finally are real, it’s hard to care. The Camaro Concept was a complete surprise to me, and for that fact alone, was the most exciting vehicle at the show. How ’bout it guys and gals, let’s get back to being surprised and amazed a bit more in the future! Might just save your financial butts!

Concept Vehicles at the ‘06 LA Auto Show:

Chevrolet Camaro Concept
Chevrolet Cheyenne
Chrysler Firepower
Ford Fairlane
GM Sequel
Hyundai NEOS III
Jeep Gladiator
Jeep Hurricane
Lexus LF-A
Maserati Birdcage 75th
Mitsubishi Eclipse Ralliart
Saab 9-5 Aero BioPower Concept
Suzuki P.X.
Volkswagen GX3
Volvo 3CC

Production Debuts at the ‘06 LA Auto Show:

2006 Audi Q7
2006 BMW M6
2006 Bugatti Veyron
2007 Chevrolet Aveo Sedan
2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
2007 Chevrolet Tahoe
2007 Chevy Suburban
2006 Ferrari F430 Pista
2006 Fisker Latigo
2006 Fisker Tramonto
2007 GMC Yukon XL
2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
2006 Lotus Exige
2006 Maserati Quattroporte GT
2006 Maybach 57S
2007 Mazda CX-7
2007 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP
2006 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S
2006 Porsche Cayman S
2006 Saab 9-3 20 Years Edition Aero Convertible
2007 Saleen S331
2006 Spyker C12 LaTurbie
2006 Spyker C8 Laviolette
2007 Toyota Yaris
2007 Volkswagen Eos
2006 Volkswagen GTI

[Cross posted at Okie on the Lam blog]



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