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Image Is Everything, From Bugattis to Chevys : Auto show: Electric cars, $400,000 cars and hot-red cars. All displayed against a backdrop of the mythic Open Road.

January 09, 1994|DIANNE KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Take Stephen Kafka. He stood, alone, staring at a slowly revolving metallic gray Porsche 911 convertible. Round and round went the Porsche. Again, and again.

Like a dog who hears the whistle when mere humans cannot, Kafka, an apparently mild-mannered accountant from the Westside, was tuned in. Just how would his life change if this baby were his?

"I'd probably be broke," Kafka said. "I'd probably have to live in the car."

Over at the Volvo display, the pitch was much less sexy, but plenty corporal nonetheless. In place of beautiful women and flashy videos, crash dummies showed potential buyers what it might be like to have a head-on collision in a brand new Volvo.

Salesman Solomon Morris conceded that when he bought his first Volvo (a 740 turbo) at age 23, the car wasn't quite up to his image as a cool-looking guy. "People used to look at me funny," Morris, 31, said.

Sadly, however, Morris drives a Mazda today. After wrecking his Volvo on the second try, Morris said he cannot afford to buy one now.

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