If you want an interesting experience, take a teenage boy to a car show.
On Halloween night, when many of you were out trick or treating with your kids, my grandson Benjamin and I went to the Fort Worth Auto Show. It was just the two of us, and we had a blast.
Benji is an “almost 16” sophomore at Keller Central High School. In a few weeks, he’ll get his driver’s license and inherit his dad’s well-used Mustang. He can’t wait.
I know a lot about cars and trucks, but I can’t hold a candle to Benji when it comes to sports cars. He watches every YouTube car show from Motor Trend, Car and Driver and Automobile magazines and already owns stock in Tesla, the manufacturer of all-electric luxury cars.
As we walk into the Fort Worth Convention Center, the first car we spot is a burnt-orange Audi TT coupe. Within seconds, Benji is in the driver’s seat and telling me all about the car.
I don’t know much about Audi. I know it’s a division of Volkswagen and many knowledgeable auto writers say it’s in the same league as Mercedes-Benz and BMW when it comes to performance luxury cars.
Benji lingers with the TT. I walk over “next door” to the Mercedes-Benz exhibit and ease behind the wheel of a Mercedes E-Class sedan, one of the cars on my “wish I had” list.
We both sample a big Mercedes station wagon with a window-sticker price of more than $90,000 and agree that it sure is nice – with leather so soft you could take a nap in the big bucket seats.
Neither one of us is interested in the Acura, Lexus and Infiniti displays. Benji knows his grandfather’s irrational dislike of Japanese-made cars. We make our way across the aisle to the Cadillac display.
I slip behind the wheel of a new Cadillac XTS sedan, another car on my “wish I had” list, and when I start looking for Benji, he’s deep inside a dark gray Cadillac CTS-V coupe – a beautiful 400-plus horsepower high-performance car that I would have to bend double to get into. Getting out would not be a pretty sight.
Both of us are drawn to a roped-off exhibit of the new 2015 Cadillac Escalade that will arrive in James Wood/Denton showrooms next spring. An eager Cadillac representative tells us all about the Escalade including the fact that it is built right here in Arlington alongside the Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and GMC Yukon.
He proudly displays the new fold-flat second- and third-row seats, while I silently remember that GM has finally caught up with my 2010 Ford Expedition that has that feature.
We pass by the Mazda exhibit despite an invitation to Benji to take a drive in a Mazda 3 simulator. He politely tells the exhibitor that we’ll be back, but he is headed straight for a roped-off exhibit of some cars I could never afford.
Park Place Motor Cars has a four-car “don’t even think about touching these vehicles” exhibit of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lamborghini and McLaren cars that are beautiful. He snaps a few pictures with his iPhone, and we are on our way.
A nice salesman at the Kia exhibit offers us a brochure. I’m not really interested since they aren’t sold in Decatur but to be polite I take one anyway.
Next we wind up at the Hyundai exhibit, and I slip behind the wheel of a gorgeous Equus sedan. I also very much like the Genesis sedan. Benji, meanwhile, is behind the wheel of a Genesis coupe, another high-performance car he knows a lot about.
We walk past the Volvo exhibit after casually looking at a hardtop convertible with the top partially raised. Next is Nissan, and Benji knows a lot about the GT-R sports car. I happily remember a dear friend who once had a Datsun 240-Z sports car. The latest version of that car is also on display.
As we walk along, we stop briefly at the Buick display, but there’s not much new there and I already know what a great car the Buick Enclave is. Benji’s dad has considered buying a new Regal because he once had a great one, but I think he’s settled on a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid from my friend Dennis Hooks’ dealership in Weatherford.
Sadly, there was no Lincoln display at the auto show.
Now we arrive at Chevrolet, with cars and trucks we both appreciate. He heads for the Camaro, and I look at the new Impala and Suburban. On a display stand, a nice product expert is winding up her speech about the new Corvette.
We visit with her, and I ask if I can take a picture of Benji with the bright red Corvette. She invites him up on the display stand, opens the door and tells him to have a seat so his grandfather can get a real picture. His smile was ear-to-ear. She pops the hood and shows him the high-performance engine.
Then we ease across the aisle to the Ford exhibit. Benji heads for the Mustangs and the high-performance Ford Raptor F-150. I tell him the U.S. Border Patrol is buying Raptors because of their outstanding performance on rough terrain.
I take a look at the new Expedition and realize Ford hasn’t done a darn thing to it since mine was new in 2010. With GM holding more than 70 percent of the full-size SUV market with the Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Escalade, I guess Ford has just decided not to improve the Expedition.
Before we leave the Ford exhibit, there’s a real thrill for Benji. A factory representative asks him if he would like to drive a Fiesta ST simulator through the famous N rburgring in Germany. He jumps at the chance, and while we are waiting, another Ford rep completes the simulation with a time of a little over two minutes.
Benji is told the top speed so far is 1:49 and so he is off. He finishes in 1:55 and is a happy young race car driver.
A couple of hours have passed and we’re both getting hungry, but we make one final stop at the Dodge exhibit. He tries out the Challenger sports coupe, and I look at another one of my favorite vehicles, the Dodge Durango SUV. He even checks out the innovative toolboxes in the bed of a Ram pickup.
A quick look at the Jeeps, and we’re out the door, headed to meet his parents for dinner at Flip’s on Western Center. At dinner we talk about the auto show, and then we go our separate ways.
I drive back to Decatur with a big smile on my face and a heart full of joy because I’ve discovered once again that bonding with my grandson is an experience I’ll never forget.
We’ve already got next year’s Fort Worth Auto Show on our calendar.
Roy Eaton is publisher of the Wise County Messenger.