Get hooked on new cars at Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show – The Express-Times

The 2014 Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Show has added some new
twists and turns to its layout at Lehigh
University’s Goodman Campus in Bethlehem.

For folks hankering for a blast from the past, there is a
display of muscle cars from the mid-1960s provided by the America
on Wheels museum in Allentown.

For those with a need for speed, Pocono Raceway has a couple
of race cars on display and local Sports Car Club of America race driver
William Burfeind Jr., of Lower Saucon
Township, is showing his open-wheeled
Van Diemen Mazda racer.

And to keep your motor running, Harley-Davidson has returned
for its second year with a bevy of high-powered bikes representing its newly
redesigned touring class.

The showcase of about 250 new cars, trucks and SUVs continues today through
Sunday at Stabler Arena, Rauch Fieldhouse and West Pavilion.

A rebounding market

A large turnout is expected this year, as demand for new
vehicles is rising, says Bryan Gault, president of Wind Gap Chevrolet Buick.

Gault says that since the end of the auto recession in 2009,
sales have picked up dramatically. Dealers are still experiencing pent-up consumer
demand.

“The car market has definitely rebounded since then,” Gault
says. “At the time, U.S.
car sales were less than 10 million units (per model year). More than 15
million units were sold in 2013 and economists are looking for more than 16
million units by the end of this year.”

Gault’s dealership will bring a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette
Stingray convertible/coupe to the show. The signature American sports car
boasts a 6.2-liter (376-cubic-inch) V-8 that produces more than 400 horsepower
and still gets 28 miles per gallon.

And to get a jump on next year’s models, Chevrolet is introducing
the 2015 Tahoes, Suburbans and Colorado
pickup, Gault says.

Other cars will include the 2014 Fiat 500 Abarth hatchback,
the Chevy Silverado pickup —
available with either a standard V-8 or new “Eco-Tech” V-6 — the Chevy Impala and the
Buick Encore small-sized SUV.

The new Chevy Cruze diesel is a hit with customers, Gault
says.

“You wouldn’t believe how quiet it is, and it gets gas mileage in the
high 40s. One customer is getting 48 miles to the gallon.”

Something for everyone

America on Wheels will host a Muscle Beach Party with
muscle cars from the 1950s and ’60s, including a 1964 Ford Mustang, a ’66
Camaro, a ’55 Chrysler, a ’55 Ford Thunderbird and a ’69 Pontiac GTO.

“The museum is delighted to offer a glimpse of iconic muscle
power that helped shape the culture of the automotive industry,” says Linda
Merkel, museum executive director. “Our docents will be on site to answer any
questions concerning the history of the vehicles and we encourage visitors to
bring their cameras. And yes, there will be palm trees and surf boards on
site.”

Lincoln, Nissan and Ford will offer ride-and-drive vehicle
testing, and Blackman Cycle will showcase all-terrain vehicles.

And the show’s luxury pavilion will return for its second year,
says Tom Kwiatek, executive director of the Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers
Association.

“I think the array of vehicles at this year’s show,
including the BMW i3, has to be the highlight for me,” Kwiatek says. “We’re
very excited that we’re getting one for the show.”

The BMW i3 all-electric luxury sedan is the first-ever mass-produced
vehicle combining a reinforced carbon fiber passenger compartment with a carbon
fiber and aluminum chassis. Powered by a synchronous electric motor with
maximum revs of 11,400 rpm, the car moves from zero to 60 in 7.2 seconds, has a
top speed of 93 mph and a range of almost 200 miles per charge.

Other cars in the luxury line scheduled to appear at the
show include the new Kia K-900, Volvo CX coupe, Acura TLX
sedan and the newly upgraded 2015 Cadillac Escalade.

“It’s the most exciting lineup at the show since I’ve been
involved,” Kwiatek says.

Getting a deal

Another reason for the increase in auto sales over the last few years, Gault says,
is that banks have substantially loosened up credit and car loan rates are low.

“For most people, a car payment is probably more important
than their mortgage payment,” Gault says.

Banks may take up to a year to go after a delinquent
mortgage, he explains, but it’s different with car loans.

“Stop paying for two or three months,” he says wryly, “and
next thing you know there’s a hook coming.”

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