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Car4mh Geneva motor show 2009 blog

Wed, 04 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0800

By Car4mh

Motor Shows

04 March 2009 15:00

Oh my god! It’s...the celebrity-spotting reader-blogger

No report from one of the world’s great motorshows would be complete without a wide-eyed fanboy list of all the famous people he saw there.  So bear with me while I try to avoid sounding like Jeremy Hart or Piers Morgan while name-dropping furiously below (I know, it’s impossible, but can’t blame me for trying).  Paparazzi pics provided where available.

1) Georg Kacher – spotted outside having a smoke by the entrance on Monday press day, as Team Thonon-les-bains (car4mh, Lokinen, Robby1977) battled their way to meet up with editor Tim.  Georg really is larger than life.  We didn’t get a chance to say hi, but Robby noted that being part of the international brotherhood of nicotine addicts wasn’t a bad thing if you’re in such illustrious company.  Batty, we did not accomplish your dare, for all the reasons I mentioned in the forum and more.
2) Tim Pollard – ok, I’m cheating because we were working for him, but come on, the guy does great work for the website. Tim has won so many Thanks This Week awards on the forum that it would be cruel not to admit being impressed to meet him in person the first time.  Even if he had to step away for a radio interview.  Also met Ben Pulman, who I thought would be taller (but thinking of it, maybe I was up on a stand platform while he was on ground level).  Tim was a great help to us all  We can only hope that we haven’t dented his goodwill with any of the manufacturer press offices during the show, as we blagged our way around apparently on his behalf.

3) Dr.-Ing. Franz-Josef Paefgen – It’s often said you remember your first of most things, and Dr Paefgen’s press conference was the first I attended.  It did sound a bit weird though hearing a very German voice promoting a very ‘British’ car.

4) Stefan Winkelmann – While not everyone is captivated by the CEO of Lamborghini, he makes a very charismatic impression in person.  I first got caught up in his reality-distortion field at the Lamborghini press conference, and if not for the scene-stealing field generated by one of the spokesmodels I may well have been brainwashed altogether.  Nonetheless, as you’ll read from Robby’s report, it was a great honour to briefly meet the man in person and shake his hand.  A company boss should ideally reflect the character of his company’s products and there’s no doubt Herr Winkelmann does just that.

5) Lamborghini Spokesmodel – commented on both in the official live blog and in my previous reports, I had an opportunity to say hello while acting as official photographer to Robby1977 on his journey through the world of Geneva booth professionals.  If TMS were there he’d have properly noted her name, and I did ask...but my mind’s a blank.  Funny that.

6) Harold Wester – Embarrased to admit that after all the changes at Maserati over the years I wasn’t sure who the current CEO was, which isn’t good for one of my favourite marques.  Following the Lamborghini charm offensive was no easy matter, especially when you have nothing new to announce.  As Robby can attest though, between the cars and the spokesmodels the Maserati stand was a highlight.

7) Angus McKenzie – I’ve enjoyed reading Angus’s work over the years, first in Wheels, then Car and finally Motor Trend.  Funnily enough I’ve had to temper that with not always agreeing about the editorial direction he takes a magazine in when he is in charge.  I’m not sure he’d enjoy my writing style as it’s been said he wasn’t a fan of Paul Cockburn’s similar writing style when at Wheels (Paul is an Australian industrial designer and writer whose work I’ve enjoyed immensely over the years). So it may be best we didn’t have a chance to chat.  I would have complimented him on the great Dodge Challenger through Europe story he did with Ed Loh recently for Motor Trend though.  I even spotted a Hemi Orange Challenger as I drove out of Geneva yesterday. 

8) Shiro Nakamura – First designer of the show for me. I watched the Infiniti Essence unveiling and while the car itself was visual overload at the time (repeat viewings have me appreciating it more) I’ve been a fan of Nakamura’s work since he collaborated with Simon Cox on the Isuzu Vehicross concept.  Bottled-out of saying something to him in Japanese as he stood nearby after the presentation, but anyway it was great to see him.

9) Giorgetto and Fabrizio Giugiaro – I won’t make many friends on the Designer of the Century thread for this. But while I was awestruck to be standing on the booth with the Giugiaros as they talked Jean Alesi and other VIPs around their display, the cars they’re doing these days really feel like a new Rolling Stones album...they’re OK but your goodwill is based on hits from an increasingly long time ago.

10) Bob Lutz – I had a nice little debate with TMS during the lunch break about ‘Maximum Bob’, my adoration for the gung-ho car guy and his recognition of Holden’s great work tempered by TMS Tim’s valid assertion that he had been product czar during a period when what GM really needed was cars like the Volt sooner, not Escalades, Hummers, Solstices, GTOs and ZR-1s.  Still, it was a thrill for me to snap some shots of Bob making his retirement speech at the Opel press conference.

11) Ian Callum – As Livc44411 Oli has related in his blog, we were walking around the M-Benz stand when I spotted Ian and a colleague quickly checking out the new E-class coupe.  We approached him and he was exactly the jovial easy-going guy he appears to be in print.  I managed to get a photo for Oli, which made his day.  I’ve been a fan of Ian’s work since his early days with TWR design when he worked on the Holden Special Vehicles range, and it was great to meet him in person and shake hands. 

12) Martin Smith – I mentioned Martin in an earlier blog, and I didn’t see him in the best of circumstance. Ford didn’t do a press conference as such, rather staging a photo call at the end of the day.  The Iosis Max design team were on hand for shots in front of their work, and since I hate having to pose for photography I completely sympathised as Mr Kinetic Design frowned at the endless stage-direction shouted from one particularly vocal press officer.  With the Ford PR army in close attendance there was no way I was getting a word in, so more of an observation than a meeting.

13) Ratan Tata – I wish.  Does being on the Tata stand while he gave his press conference count, if all I could see was him on a video screen?  I did get to defend the honour of the Nano Europa on Japanese TV the next day, so hopefully that counts as a plus-point. 

14) The Governator – Robby and I noticed a wave of people moving briskly through the halls on Wednesday morning, but couldn’t figure out who was the object of all this attention.  Nonetheless, thinking whoever it was must be a VIP, we rushed to catch up...and really ran to get ahead of the wave when we realised it was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  You can read more about it in Robby’s blog, as he got closest to the action. For me it was the day when my DSLR rig earned its Paparazzi merit badge, capturing telephoto shots of the Governator on the Porsche stand.

15) Jason Dawes – Not difficult to spot from a distance, we saw Jason on the Ferrari stand. Hopefully he was struggling to find something charitable to say about the Caiforniargh.

16) Jon Smith – We spotted former Max Power editor and Car contributor Jon (okay, Jonny) Smith with his colleague Paul at the Lamborghini stand.  Mr Smith was his usual streetwear-styled self and to his credit managed to get a word in whilst Robby was talking (no mean feat!)  All I could remember to ask about was his XJ40 lowrider, but as everyone probably knows already that got sold to get a house deposit together.  I know there’s some who’d have a problem with Jon but I can only echo Robby’s assessment that he’s ‘a sound bloke’.

17) Ferdinand Piech? An unconfirmed sighting prior to the Bentley press conference.  Do you think it’s him in the photo?

Overall I can’t help but be delighted to be able to compile that list Even so I’m disappointed I wasn’t able to recognise and say hello to more of the journalists who I’ve read over the years.  I did scan the chaos of the media centre, but in vain.  I also did not manage to spot Batty anywhere at the show, so the mystery of his identity continues.

By Car4mh