What’s YOUR Magic Number? Tales and Test Drives at the Motor Trend International Auto Show – Las Vegas, NV

5, 15, 25?  How many autos have you owned in your lifetime?  It depends how long you’ve been living the life of “driver” on your resume’.  I’m calling that the “Magic Number” in this post.

Thinking that I was attending the Motor Trend International Auto Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center to get the latest scoop on brand releases and updates, you can imagine my surprise when the magic number 80 was voiced by none other than the faithful security guard Chuck before I ever set foot in the show or laid a finger on a test drive.

Chuck Himber closeup
Chuck Himber, car enthusiast photo by Jules Stayton

The cordial atmosphere that exists in a show-type atmosphere naturally lends itself to idle chit-chat, this is how we meet interesting people and make connections in the industry.  Well, the conversation bloomed when I gave my card to Chuck.  It seemed like the floodgates opened and memories of a bygone era flowed for him.  Having owned over 80 cars in his seventy-something years dotted the pages of his life’s story.  Some only had  six weeks with him, some six months and others six years.  Everything from Maseratis to Mazdas to Mercedes.  Lambos to Lincolns. You name it, Chuck drove it and could tell you intimate details about the acquisition, tenure and exit of each car from his colorful past.  Finding a car lover “working the show” as a security guard was a treasure trove of enthusiasm that matched very few I had interviewed before. His love of autos was heart-warming and his tales entertaining.  Chuck was an added bonus and the day hadn’t even started yet!

It was 10 a.m. and the sun was already warming the desert.  Thinking that test drives would be the most popular, I made my way to Toyota first.  Three manufacturers, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet, brought their wares for consumer review.  Eager hosts banded and signed off on each guest as the event began.


Venturing out to the valet/drop-off lane equipped with camera in hand I chose to drive the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry.  The “sexy” Camry had been on my list and checking it off in Las Vegas at the Motor Trend International Auto Show might as well be the venue.  Rich from Toyota rode shotgun and detailed many of the features that make Camry one of the best-selling cars in the Toyota line-up for decades.


360° camera, panoramic sunroof, etc. were just a few of the features that stand out on the 2018 Camry.  Rich took me on a drive through the streets of Las Vegas making sure we had a straightaway that was long enough for me to put the pedal-to-the-metal and test its zero-to-sixty capability.  I was not disappointed.  Handling was smooth, controls at the fingertips, body contoured seats and a trunk big enough to tote enough luggage for a fortnight in Napa. Longevity being in the DNA of the Toyota Camry, any red-blooded consumer would enjoy their tenure for 10+ years in this 2018.

Not to be undone, Ford reps were chomping-at-the-bit to get me in the seat of a 2018 F-150 Lariat specimen that was curbside and gleaming in the sunshine.  4 X 4s aren’t the fare for most tourists in Las Vegas but I was not deterred as I entered the spacious, comfortable cab of the F-150 Lariat.  Having been an owner of an F-150 in the past, comparing the new technology and features of the 2018 version intrigued me.  Sitting high in the cockpit, we motored through the same pathway as the Camry had in a very different mode.  The comparison of this model with the past one I owned and having just driven the Camry, the Ford F-150 stood on its own merits nicely.  JC from Ford was well versed in the kudos given to the F-150 and just a few days later Kelly Blue Book awarded it the Best Truck Value for 2018.


Happy that I had chosen it over the Mustang was a phrase I never thought I’d laud but it worked out beautifully.  JC gave us a detailed explanation of how the trailer camera worked with the hitch to maneuver the truck easily into position for the hook-up.  The soft-close tailgate that included a fold-out step up was the kicker.  Tie downs incorporated into the wheel wells of the bed and electronic control for the center back window made me feel as if Ford had left nothing to chance in the 2018.  Thumbs-up!

Make no mistake, Chevy did not come unprepared.  Long lines for the Camaro steered me in the direction of the all new 2018 Chevrolet Traverse.  Chevy’s entry in the mid-sized crossover SUV brought a well-planned interior and easy handling.  With third row seating, the Traverse competes nicely with the VW Atlas, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.


Available captain’s chairs in the second row makes for easy access to the third row, a feature I enjoyed.  Driving more like a car than an SUV also impressed me about the Traverse.  Multiple drive modes that include AWD construct great selling points to soccer-Moms/Dads and off-roaders alike.  Eager to hit the highlights of the all-new 2018 Traverse was Chevy’s representative Manny.  Full of useful information, Manny detailed the Traverse in a way that only one that truly loves what he does, does. Check out my Facebook post to hear Manny’s account of the AWD mode as well as others from Ford and Toyota on JulesOnWheelz.

Tales and test-drives under my belt, I ventured into the show.

Still thinking and calculating your “magic number”?  Stop playing Freebird and reminiscing about your VW van days and keep counting…

Fingerprints and smudges had not yet covered the belles-of-the-ball under the bright lights as I waltzed into the Motor Trend International Auto Show.  Many in the show circuit were on their way to Los Angeles to the LA Auto Show the next week and this was a good time to hone their skills in a small venue before being bombarded by the masses on the coast.

Honda drew my attention capitalizing on its recent wins with KBB and Motor Trend.  A deluge of memories flowed as I passed the Civic as it is one of my magic numbers.  Efficient and sleek it’s still regarded as one of the best cars on the road for style, reliability and MPG.


Stopping at each display, their aces were prominently placed.  The Volkswagen Atlas shining in all its Fortana Red Metallic glory caught my eye and didn’t go unnoticed by VW rep Randi.  She proceeded to inform me of all the great things Volkswagen had to offer and detailed how the CC model would no longer be in production for 2018 and be replaced by the new 2019 Arteon.  Artist’s renderings and possible release dates were foggy but summer 2018 was mentioned as a contender for the time frame.


Making the rounds, Lexus, Infinity, and Acura were happy to tout their newest darlings.  Having driven two of the Lexus models in the fall, I was happy to see and sit in my new friends the LC500 and RC F.  SUV was the first-born spoken of at Infiniti and TLX and RLX for bragging rights at Acura.  The most interesting feature was in the RLX that combined the safety of brake assist with semi-autonomous genes that make stop and go traffic a breeze as it adjusts to its surroundings.  Chelsea made me feel at home and I absolutely love the tail lights on the Acura brand.  An Acura was in the running for magic number 2 on my list…the Integra to be exact.



Subaru, FCA, Lincoln, Buick and Hyundai rounded out my stroll with their show stunners beaming with pride.  The standouts were Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet though as they gave the actual driving experience that most guests strive for.

Now…back to my original question…what is your magic number???

Well, after pondering my own history with autos, I’ve arrived at eleven.  Each with its own story (some told on my previous blog posts) just like Chuck’s, but junior to his 80. My story will evolve with every passing purchase for years to come and I can’t wait to see what tales unfold.

Looking forward to number twelve already…

Post YOUR magic number in the comments below…I can’t wait to hear YOUR stories.


P.S. Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page JulesOnWheelz to hear representatives from Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet detail the features of their autos during my test drives at the Motor Trend International Auto Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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