News & Politics

The Annual Washington Auto Show Opens for the Week at the DC Convention Center (Photos)

You’ll find two full floors of vehicles, plus attractions for all ages and celebrity appearances.

The Lexus IS 350 F Sport is designed to be “fun to drive,” according to Motor Trend magazine. The base price is $36,000. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

In the market for a new car? That’s one reason to visit the annual Washington Auto Show. For the rest of us, there’s the amazement of roaming a giant convention space that is warm—repeat, warm—and packed with shiny vehicles and other attractions for all ages, even those under the legal driving limit.

There’s also the luxurious experience of sliding into the most anticipated Corvette since 1963, or daydreaming about road trips while admiring a pair of classic, shiny, silver Airstreams. If action is what you crave, Jeep has built a full-scale obstacle course, which you can attack in several of its vehicles. There’s also a number of celebrity appearances scheduled for the show, which opened today and closes next Sunday, February 2, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The cars are displayed on two carpeted floors. The lower level has imports, and the Jeep obstacle track, and the upper level displays domestic models. Most days the show is open from 10 to 9, but it’s best to check the website, which also has ticket prices and updates on celebrity appearances and other programs.

The expected celebrity guests include Audrina Patridge, Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30. Friday features Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper from 6 to 8, and Danny Koker of Pawn Stars from 6:30 to 8:30. The Nationals’ Jayson Werth will be on hand on January 26 at 1:30; the next day will feature the Washington Redskins’ Pierre Garçon. Characters from Cartoon Network will visit on January 25 and January 26 throughout the day. There’s a special “student day” on Monday, January 27, and a “military day” on Tuesday, January 28.

The real stars, of course, are the automobiles, whether they are vintage Mustangs (there are two rows of them) or state-of-the-art “green” cars (every manufacturer seems to have one), or the ultra-luxurious, ultra-expensive “production” vehicles, such as the Mercedes-Benz SL550, the Audi A3 Cabriolet, a fierce-looking new Lexus, and what’s expected to be a draw at the show, a so-called “fresh face,” the Volvo S80. Visitors are permitted to sit in most of the vehicles and even drive some; others have to be admired from a distance.

I went to opening night with a friend in the market for an SUV, and lost him several times among the choices. But that was okay, because it gave me a chance to wander and aim my camera at what looked interesting, which included a roaming dinosaur. We lingered for a while at the display for Hyundai’s “zombie survival machine,” aimed at Walking Dead fans. It comes with a bloody headless torso. Dinosaurs, bloody torsos, at an auto show? Go figure. Or, as I guess is the goal, just go.