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AUTO SHOW

For tire kickers of all budgets

L.A.'s main event for enthusiasts is about big engines and prices high and low, with vehicles that range from the Maybach 57 to the Scion xA

January 08, 2003|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

Muscle and money was the message as the Greater L.A. Auto Show got underway last week.

Big engines and price tags high and low -- but mostly high -- were the underlying themes of more than a dozen new cars and trucks unveiled in Southern California by the world's major automakers. The Los Angeles event is being followed by the even bigger North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where 60 production and concept vehicles are scheduled to be unveiled this week.

Highway 1 will chronicle the Detroit show in a pictorial spread next week. Today the focus is on the L.A. show, which runs through Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The star attraction, at least by price, is the Maybach 57, a $300,000-plus, 543-horsepower luxury sedan from DaimlerChrysler aimed at well-heeled executives who prefer to drive themselves. Well, more precisely, executives who choose to do so in a car the size of a small yacht with interior fittings that wouldn't be out of place in a European palace.

A stretch version for those who prefer a chauffeur, the Maybach 62, was unveiled Monday at the media preview for the Detroit show. The numerals for each model refer to their respective lengths: 5.7 meters (18.7 feet) and 6.2 meters (20.3 feet).

So how did DaimlerChrysler fill such expansive cars? The list of standard features includes a 21-speaker stereo system, 10 air bags, a DVD player and a refrigerator big enough to hold a bottle of champagne.

At the other end of the scale, in terms of price and size, Toyota Motor Corp. took the wraps off the Scion xA, a Mini Cooper-sized five-door hatchback based on the Toyota Ist sold in Japan. The xA will join the boxy Scion xB trucklet (think Honda Element without the plastic cladding or the trick interior) as the first two vehicles in the automaker's youth-oriented Scion brand.

Scion sales will begin in California in June; Toyota says it will complete its nationwide rollout of the brand, and add a third model to the lineup, a year later.

Toyota executives said the first two Scions will be priced "under $16,000," autospeak for somewhere near $15,995. That should leave most buyers flush enough to shell out for the nearly four dozen Toyota-approved, warranted accessories that will be available through dealerships.

Pictured here are some of the other notable vehicles at the L.A. show.

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User's Guide to L.A. Auto Show

Location: Los Angeles Convention Center, 1201 S. Figueroa St.

Dates: daily through Sunday.

Hours: today and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Admission: Weekdays, $8; weekends, $10; senior citizens, $5 on weekdays; children 12 and younger, free when accompanied by an adult.

Parking: $10 at Convention Center's South Hall and West Hall. Additional parking is available for $7, weekends only, at the Grand Avenue parking structure (between Grand and Olive Street, Venice Boulevard and 17th Street), with free shuttle service to the Convention Center.

Information: (213) 741-1151, Ext. 1; www.laautoshow.com.

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