State Fair of Texas Report, Part III


Cars, cars, cars. And too many people.

Inside Centennial Hall

The above is what greets your eyes when you enter the Centennial Building in Fair Park during the Texas State Fair — and this isn’t even one of the busy parts, really. You can rest assured that it’s just as bad in the Automotive Building, on the other side of the Esplanade. You know, I’m impressed and appalled every time I enter these expo halls, for several reasons. The prices appended to these vehicles accomplish both, and I’m appalled at the huge crowds, but I’m quite impressed by the incredible organization it must have required just to get all these vehicles into the buildings in the right order without causing chaos on a massive scale.

For someone like my sister, the car nut, these two buildings were heaven. We weren’t so impressed by the truck expo outside (too hot and noisy), but there were amazing things to be seen inside, along with all kinds of free swag (mostly just brochures, alas). They had a lot of great concept cars here and there, including some that were just too outré to be either useful or believeable. Check these out:


Chevy Minivan




I’m not sure I even understand what that last one is supposed to be, except ugly. It had the Airstream logo on it, so given that and the silver exterior I assume they’re going for the travel trailer look. It’s like the early 1970s collided with today. I mean, hello? Did no one tell the designers that burnt ochre was one of the reasons we all ran screaming from the ’70s? You might as well have harvest gold appliances. And take a look at those bucket seats – oh man. The first word that comes into mind is “uncomfortable.” The second one isn’t PC-17, so I won’t even go there. Oh, and in the back? There’s not really anyplace at all to sit, which you might be able to see if my pictures of it had come out. I’m not sure what that odd pillar thing in the middle is, by the way. I was told it was a massive-capacity CD changer, but it looks more like some kind of filter. Whatever. Anyway, here’s a really hot concept car that was presented by Honda (I think). I just wish I’d had the presence of mind to notice what the hell it was called.


Concept Car


In addition to the manufacturers we’re all familiar with, there were one or two that I’d never heard of before. Here’s one: Saleen. Check out this one car.




That one was going for about $86,000. They had an Urban Assault Vehicle – oops, I mean an SUV – that was priced about half again as much. Like I said, I’d never heard of these Saleen guys before, but my sister had (she actually reads car magazines for fun). My understanding is that they make scary-expensive high-end cars for people who have too much money. Apparently their products are hand-carved from solid gold by magical elves somewhere, kind of like Ferraris and and Lamborghinis and Lexi. I’m not sure I have the story straight, but I suspect it’s something pretty close. Great looking cars, going for enough to feed the average family for, I don’t know, five years.


Oh – one other thing I noted that I thought was Cool, with a capital C. Ford had this robotic presenter at the show who held regular sessions every few hours. By “robotic” I don’t mean that the presenter was a person who seemed stiff and unnatural; I mean that the presenter was a robot. Here he is.


Mr. Roboto


Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Looks a lot like an unclothed Terminator, doesn’t he? Let’s just hope Skynet’s not as inevitable as James Cameron would have it. Anyway, to my regret, I never did get to see him perform. By the time I found him my blood sugar was down there around my shoelaces somewhere, and I had to get some food in me stat. It’s sad to be a slave to your body, isn’t it? If I were a robot I wouldn’t have to worry about that, huh? Hmmmm… Be that as it may, it’s amusing to ponder whether R. Daneel here has been programmed with Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics. Eh…doubt it. Probably not positronic anyway.


Interestingly enough, this isn’t the only robotic entity one meets while wandering about the fairgrounds. Indeed, one of the Fair’s biggest attractions is basically a huge robot, and here he is:


Big Tex


We call this big fella Big Tex, for obvious reasons. He talks, moves his mouth, and waves that big right arm…but I’m getting ahead of myself again. More to come — soon enough!

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