You can see the company's top executive suffering under the klieg lights, beads of sweat forming and sliding, diction getting loose and hands a bit too nervous as he struggles to present a car he knows in his soul will be met by the worst of all possible sounds.
And if he were counting on a big fat bonus, or job security, the wave of silence that meets a bad Auto Show debut will surely wash those hopes away -- gone, forever, under the wheels of a car that failed to inspire, measure up or provide a reason for its purchase.
It happens. And at this year's Auto Shows, it happened more than usual. There were a number of forgettable cars that offered no credible reason for a person to purchase, rebates aside. We wouldn't buy one, anyway - so we've come up with a list of, well, losers based on a criteria that includes quality, logic, design and the competitive landscape. Based on this, we've rehashed the ugly memories of their debuts -- and while some of the vehicles listed did indeed have some strong attributes, none really provided buyers with enough tangible reasons to plunk down their hard-earned cash and drive off the local lot. And heck -- if between the wheels and the roof there's no reason to buy the thing, why, that sure seems like an Auto Show dud to us:
Cadillac XLR-V: They can't sell 'em at regular strength, so it's doubtful that more horsepower and fancy black wood grain will turn this mid-life crisis car into a winner.
Chevy HHR: Chrysler owns this road and travels it thanks to more powerful engines. If you're late to a party, you better bring something cool - in this case, the HHR is just late to the party.
Isuzu pickups: A great 7/75 warranty, but they're still rebadged GM trucks that are already at the back of the pack
Jeep Commander: Yet another SUV that has a nearly useless third row seat -- yippee -- but this one offers the bonus of looking like a 10 year old Jeep.
Lincoln Zephyr: A badge-engineered, front-wheel-drive Ford Fusion with as much surface excitement as a presidential address.
Mitsubishi Eclipse: Weird enough to get your attention, but will you really consider buying one when the Mustang is available?
Mercedes-Benz R-Class: Not bad looking, and with plenty of interior room. But does the world really need another crossover, one that amounts to an expensive Pacifica?
Pontiac G6 Coupe/Convertible: Looks like a Solara, competes against the Mustang. And that fancy retractable roof will surely price it out of the market.
Pontiac Torrent: In today's SUV world, putting a Pontiac badge on a Chevy Equinox and upgrading the interior really isn't enough.
Venturi Fetish: - An all-electric vehicle that will cost more than half a mil? And it's named Fetish? Be the first on your street to own one!