ANAHEIM — "Excuse me, sir, there, with the baby, have you ever driven a car 170 miles per hour?" Shawn Sisti joked with a bystander.
As the sales manager for his replica of the Lamborghini Countach, Sisti was doing his best to attract attention to the red razor blade of a car.
It was Saturday at the Orange County International Auto Show and the auto dealers were out with all kinds of gimmicks--mellifluous jokesters, miniskirted dancers, otherworldly prototype cars--to entice bystanders to come look at the models they had for sale.
And about 40,000 men, women and children who braved chilly rains to come out to Anaheim Stadium were eating it up while they picked over the 500 vehicles inside four large structures.
Marty Albornoz, holding his 1-year-old son in his arm, wasn't one to be tempted by the Lamborghini. The last time he had traveled 170 m.p.h. on the ground was in a jet landing at LAX, he said, laughing. He was looking for a station wagon for his growing family.
While rain pelted a drum roll on the plastic-coated vinyl tents and soaked the orange and gray-blue carpets, Orange County residents slammed car doors, poked into engines and brooded over whether they would turn in their old cars and buy the latest sophisticated model. The show continues through next Sunday. Rock singer Alice Cooper took a break from filming a video for his "Only My Heart Talking" in Los Angeles to check out the cars.
Cooper, who donned a black leather jacket studded with metal buttons in the shape of a cross on the back, clambered into a sleek black Toyota MR2 sports car, on display with its new 2.2-liter, 130-horsepower engine.
"They're finally beginning to put some muscle into import cars," said Cooper, who drives a Corvette painted "red--blood red."
Toyota salesman Dave Diener, who showed Cooper the two-seater sports car, bragged to an associate that he had hooked the rock star on the relatively small car.
"Yeah, I'm going to buy one for each foot," Cooper joked.
The Honda Accord, which, according to show spokesman Barry Greenberg, is the most popular car in Orange County, was not attracting much attention. What was attracting attention were the "concept cars," prototypes that rarely make their way into production.
Chrysler Plymouth's beach-cruising Speedster, a half-breed motorcycle and car, was one of the more popular concept cars.
Adam Johnson, 9, visiting with his cousin's family in Anaheim Hills, thought the car belonged in a James Bond movie. "It looks like this thing can turn into a jet," he marveled. "The wheels could pop up so that the hubcaps are facing down. Then the exhaust pipes turn into jets. Out of the bottom part of the car the wings come out."
Also drawing a lot of attention were the Chrysler GEO Dancers.
Jeannie Friedman, 39, of Yorba Linda, brought her two sons to see the four lip-syncing dancers who twirled sequined miniskirts.
"I loved them," said 5-year-old Eric Friedman. "They looked me straight in the eye."