After the conclusion of last year’s annual Greater Kansas City International Auto Show at Bartle Hall, the board of directors started planning for this year’s event.
The thousands of people from Kansas City and surrounding areas who flood Bartle Hall for the 4½ days of the auto show to see all the newest models of cars from all the manufacturers provide plenty of evidence of its success.
The number of new car sales in the six to eight weeks immediately following the auto show offers even more proof.
“We refer to it as the auto show afterglow,” said Larry Carl, chief executive officer of the Automobile Dealers Association of Greater Kansas City and the auto show producer.
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Still, each year, Carl said, they want to add something new, something different to bring people to the auto show.
So the board of directors sat in a conference room and brainstormed.
“One of the guys said, ‘Let’s give away a car,’” Carl said. “That is a terrific idea. One car grew to two and then it became four and then it became six and ultimately it stopped at seven.
“That will be the big draw for this year’s auto show. Come down to the auto show, register to win. We are giving away seven cars. It is very simple.”
To register to win, simply attend the show or go to kcautoshow.com for registration instructions. If your name is drawn, you will be invited back to the show to play a game on stage with four other finalists. The winner will be awarded a new car.
“With each car that is given away, not only will there be seven winners within the Kansas City area, but the community will benefit because with each car, we are going to donate $5,000 to a local charity,” Carl said. “We are going to have local celebrities emcee the giveaway in a game-show atmosphere.”
Each celebrity picked a charity for the money to be donated to.
The first car given away will be a 2015 Ford Mustang at 8 p.m. Wednesday and the celebrity to present the new car will be Holly Starr. The next two nights, a car will be given away at 8 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, two cars will be given away.
“Giving away seven cars is nothing to shake a stick at,” said Nate Mehill, Ford’s Kansas City zone manager. “It is an opportunity for seven lucky Kansas Citians to walk away with a new car, and that helps boost the excitement.”
Obviously, Mehill is excited about the Ford products that will be on display at the auto show. Some of them include the 2015 F-150, the 2015 Edge and the 2016 Explorer, all of which have undergone redesigns.
“I think it is a great to have our complete lineup so the customers can get a dealership experience without having to be outside and brave the weather,” Mehill said. “They can see everything functioning, and it gives them a good comparison with what the other manufacturers show and how it stacks up to the competition in one room.”
One Ford on display is likely to generate plenty of enthusiasm from fans of high performance sports cars. It is the 2016 Shelby GT 350, which won’t hit the market until later this summer.
“The new GT 350 has a 5.2-liter V-8 engine, which will produce over 500 horsepower and 400 foot-pounds of torque,” Mehill said.
The great thing about the auto show is all manufacturers will have vehicles they are proud of, and they will be eager to show how they fit a person’s particular lifestyle, whether it is a family SUV, a daily driver or a sports car.
“The auto show really kicks off spring,” Mehill said. “It gets everybody fired up to see new products. Everybody has been winter hibernating. It gives them a chance to look forward to what is going to be fun to drive in the spring.
“There will be representatives from all the manufacturers at the auto show to answer anyone’s questions, walk them through the vehicle, and the customers can really connect with them.”
And that, said Carl, is the beauty of the Greater Kansas City International Auto Show.
“Clearly, having all the cars under one roof and you just go from brand to brand to brand is not only a visual eye-candy fest, but certainly a convenience for people who are in the market to buy a car,” Carl said. “The traditional spring selling season kicks off mid March. We have a new crop of incentives, you have the auto show and then, boom, there is a button pushed and show rooms start jamming up.
“That is part of what the auto show is all about. It does translate from Bartle Hall to the showroom floor to the dealership. I think over the past couple of years, the bump is anywhere from 12 to 15 percent increase during that window of time (spring) in terms of sales.”
Wednesday, March 4: 5-10 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, March 5-7: 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, March 8: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
301 W. 13th St.
Kansas City, 64105
Toll free phone: 800-821-7060
$11 for adults; $6 for children ages eight through 12. Free admission for children seven and under. $1 discount coupons, good toward an adult admission Wednesday through Sunday at kcautoshow.com. Use your Price Chopper Rewards card at the box office for $1 off each adult admission. Weekday discount coupons good for two adult admissions for $16 Wednesday through Friday are available on the website. Tickets are available at the box office any show day or through ticketmaster.com.