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Modern models at car, truck show

The Jacksonville Car and Truck Show organized automobile exhibits that were no less than a male fantasy come to life.

Twenty-seven automakers, ranging from Chevy, Nissan and Buick to Mercedes, Porche and Lamborghini, showed off their latest releases of cars, trucks and SUVs at the Prime Osborne Convention Center Feb. 18-20.

“It’s just like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to fit all the brands in,” said Barbara Pudney, show manager and vice president of the Paragon Group, which has been putting on the show since 1999. “Cars are taking up basically every nook and corner of the Osborne.”

She said the main goal of the show was promoting sales in the automobile business after the national economic downfall. More manufacturers featured their cars in this year’s show than in the last.

Buick’s sales presentation claimed a 52 percent rise in sales nationally and a 64 percent rise in the state of Florida. Buick is affiliated with General Motors, which filled bankruptcy in 2009, but was able to raise sales because of GM’s redefined goal.

“We now live by ‘Design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles,’” said Buick/GMC Executive Brad Flaaen. “It’s a simple goal, you and I both get it. We are done being complicated.”

Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt attracted the most consumer attention. The $32,780 Nissan Leaf pays off its price by getting about 100 miles on its electric power train, said a Nissan sales representative. The Chevy Volt was offered for test drives.

“I’ve owned 40 cars in my lifetime, everything from Corvettes to Jaguars to Mazdas to you name it,” said show attendee Ed Straus while looking over an Audi R8 model. “Hands down, the best car I’ve owned so far is the Nissan-Z. They’re smooth, fast, durable, and they pick up women.”

The chick magnet at the show was the most expensive car displayed in the main ballroom. The 2009 Corvette Stingray, the concept car featured in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” is estimated at $8 million and was also the jewel of the show. The silver car fashioned scissor doors and a clamshell hood.

“I own this car,” the Stingray representative said. “Man, I wish I meant that.”

Another jewel was the yellow Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560 – 4 Spyder. This convertible beast sported a 5.2L V10 engine, which outputs 560 horsepower on a four-wheel drive system. With a leather interior, this 2011 Italian super-car also comes with a price tag of over $221,000.

Dodge sales representative advised the Dodge Caliber and Jeep models as affordable cars for college students.

“The Caliber starts at $16,000, and your local dealers can offer easy monthly payments, I’m sure,” she said. “The Jeep is meant to be used well, drive around with your friends — the back gate opens, too. Tailgating, anyone?”

DeciBels Auto Creations also featured a candy orange colored Hummer with 32-inch rims and a custom built sound system. Charles Brazil, installer and fabricator, said the company works with all automobiles and uses only the best equipment.

All the representatives had adequate knowledge about the cars and everybody was allowed to sit in them for an inside look.

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