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Pittsburgh International Auto Show to ease winter chill

By Evan Skowvron
Point Park News Service
A $375,000 Lexus, all-terrain vehicles, visits by local mascots, all rounded out by an array of 600 vehicles will be featured from Feb. 15-18 at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show.John Putzier, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association, which sponsors the event (GPADA), expects record turnouts to the event at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center because the American auto industry is back. Putzier said sales in 2012, for the Pittsburgh area, were up 14% over 2011.”This year we’re really celebrating being back at the point we were five years ago,” Putzier said in a telephone interview.

The show features everything from children’s exhibits, prizes and giveaways and appearances by local team mascots like the Pirate Parrot and Steely McBeam. The auto show will also feature classic cars at an exhibit produced by the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix Association, and of course more than 600 modern cars from manufacturers such as Fiat and Lexus.

Putzier stressed the family nature of the entire event.

“We’ve really tried to create a family event, not just an auto show,” he said.
Putzier also pointed out that with their half-priced ticket Monday that visitors can spend the day at the car show and only spend $5.

Chad Slagel, 27, of Alison Park, is hoping to catch a glimpse of the newly redesigned Chevrolet Corvette as well as what the Lotus display will offer this year. Slagel has been going to the auto show for eight years now. He says that the auto show is a great way to spend time with family.

“It has become quite a family tradition to make a day out of the event and it’s something I look forward to every year,” Slagel said.

Elizabeth Layhew, 20, of Grindstone, Pa., attended the auto show last year and was amazed at the variety of vehicles. She enjoyed the experience so much that she has been looking forward to this year’s show.

“It’s really neat to see all the vehicles and all the different makes; I can’t wait to see what they have in store for this year,” Layhew said.

John Mann, Manager of #1 Cochran Fiat of Monroeville, said Fiat and other Cochran brands will be participating again this year as the heavy traffic of the auto show provides customers with a hands on experience and, “creates an attraction for the auto show by bringing in folks who might feel uncomfortable coming in the studio to see the cars.”

\”They can touch, feel and sit in the car,” Mann said in an email interview. “This is something they just cannot experience in the print, online or TV medium.”

Fiat will be featuring a new four door model at the show, the 500L. The all new Fiat  500L will be the brand’s first four door offering at its American dealerships. Chrysler Group LLC, North American subsidiary of Fiat Group, boasts in a press release that the 500L retains brand features but adds everyday “usability”.

The press release states,”taking the Fiat brand’s DNA, the all-new Fiat 500L expands the appeal of the iconic 500, while adding two more doors plus comfortable accommodations for five passenger.”

Pricing for the 500L has not yet been announced but customers can expect to see it in studios by mid-2013 and to be on sale for the 2014 model year.

Lexus will also be another manufacturer making a strong showing. In an email interview,

Edward Persinger, Internet sales manager for Lexus of North Hills, said guests will be able to see everything from the newly redesigned ES 350 and ES350 Hybrid, to the premium 386 horsepower LS 460 F Sport sports sedan. Guests should be able to count on a return of Lexus’ monster super car, the 552 horsepower, $375,000, LFA which was a star at last year’s show.

The auto show will kick off this year with a Red CARpet Gala on Thursday, Feb.14. The gala serves as a preview of this year’s show for premier sponsors, and special guests.

In a press release put out by the GPADA it said: “Proceeds from this year’s Red CARpet Charity Preview Gala have again been designated to the Mario Lemieux Foundation.” The Mario Lemieux Foundation has announced that these proceeds will benefit the Austin’s Playroom Project which works towards improving the quality of hospital visits for children and families.

This year’s four day show ends Feb. 18.

Free parking and shuttle service is available at The Rivers Casino, and discounted parking is available in the Strip District. General admission tickets will be available at the gate for $10 with senior citizen and military tickets for $8. Children under 12 will be admitted for free. Admission ticket prices will be half price on the last day of the show, Monday, Feb. 18. For more details check out the show website at www.pittautoshow.com.

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