Take a test drive at the Philadelphia Auto Show

Classic racing cars are on display at the Philadephia Auto Show.  Credit: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum Classic racing cars are on display at the Philadephia Auto Show.
Credit: Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Looking at cars is cool and all, but there’s nothing like getting in the seat and driving that baby! The Philadelphia Auto Show’s Ride and Drive program offers dozens of opportunities to become intimately acquainted via a test drive around Philly.

“You can’t beat getting behind the wheel and getting a feel for the car,” says Philadelphia Auto Show director Mike Gempp. “It’s a test drive with a professional by your side, explaining the car’s features. Manufacturers value getting people in the driving seat, of course.”

Alternatively, attendees can simply ride along as a passenger. On some of the interactive displays, it’s a passenger-only option. The Jeep Mountain, for instance, has a 14-foot ramp that puts riders 18 feet off the ground at its peak.

“Off-road is a different experience,” says Gempp. “Jeep’s ramp tips the car at a 35-degree angle; it can knock you back in your seat. There’s an articulated ramp that tips the car on its side. We had that last year for the first time and this year it’s been enhanced. One new feature is riding up an obstacle course that puts the car with only two wheels touching the ground at one point. It really shows the balance of the car.”

Not to mention showing off the skill of the driver and the guts of the passenger.

“The interactive displays are fun. Toyota’s put cars in different situations. The theme is, ‘Let’s go on vacation and get rid of the winter blues.’ There’s a large dirt mound, simulating mountain driving. There’s a sand mound to give a beach feel, and there’s a fun house with mirrors. What we find, watching people at the show, is the passion people have for the automobile.”

Check out the classics

Some cars are display only, including the ones in the vintage section. When it comes to car design there’s nothing like the elder statesmen to bring out the inner auto geek. Among the collection are selections from Philadelphia’s Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, a private collection of classic racing cars that is one of the best in the world.

“They will be bringing the first car to be placed on the historic register. It’s like how historic houses are registered, only for cars. It’s the 1964 Cobra. It’s a one-of-a-kind,” Gempp says, “and might just steal the show.”

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