Whether you are just dreaming or you really have the cash on hand, the place to spot your dream car is one of the four major U.S. auto shows.  You’ll need to book tickets for Detroit in January, Chicago in February, New York in April, or Los Angeles in November of every year.

These four auto shows compete with each other for the most premieres and, of course, prestige. Eye candy ranges from the wildest automotive ideas to the sexiest, most luxurious vehicles on the market.  You”ll even find that the shows aren’t expensive, which is remarkable, given their size and scope.

Detroit Auto Show / North American International Auto Show

Every January, Detroit plays host to one of the largest auto shows in the United States.  On hand, you”ll find about 750 cars from every automaker around the globe. This year’s attendance broke records with over 808,000 in ticket sales.   Detroit generally can claim more true premieres than any other auto show, although the Los Angeles show is giving the Motor City a run for its money. In keeping with all auto shows, most are trim editions of production cars. Still, this is definitely the place to see what’s happening in the automotive world.

Detroit Auto Show / North American International Auto Show

Detroit Auto Show / North American International Auto Show

It’s also the place to win awards. The VW Golf and Ford F150 won the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards for 2015.  The Eyes on Design Awards went to the Buick Avenir for Best Concept Vehicle and the 2016 Audi Q7 for Best Designed Interior.  The luscious Ford GT, which could rival a Lamborghini, took home Best Production Vehicle.

The first Detroit auto show was held in 1899, but it was sporadic until 1953 when it became a regular fixture. Once a U.S.-only show, it went international in the late 1980s when Detroit automakers decided to admit the competition into the arena. The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is held in the Cobo Center on the Detroit International Waterfront. The Center has 723,000 square feet of prime exhibit space.  You’ll be happier indoors since the average January temperatures are in the teens.

Chicago Auto Show

Well, it’s February, and you won’t find it any warmer in Chicago than you did in Detroit. Still, it’s hard to resist this one. The largest auto show in North America, the Chicago Auto Show boasts more cars and more people. With 1.3 million square-feet, the McCormick Center easily houses the over-1,000 vehicles on display. Attendance often tops one million.  Manufacturers really pull out the stops with sponsored concerts and special ride-alongs. Whether it’s a Fiat Chrysler test track or Camp Jeep, it’s fun to try out the latest automotive toys.

The Chicago Auto Show

The Chicago Auto Show

The 2015 show claimed 18 premieres.  MotorWeek announced its Driver’s Choice Awards at the Chicago Auto Show.  The Ford Mustang grabbed the main award, but Best Dream Car went to the Ferrari laFerrari and the Audi RS7. Among the Best in Show, the Toyota FT1 had people talking. This futuristic car even has a rear wing to add to its rocket look. The retractable unit can flip itself out and boost the car’s already lightning speed.

New York Auto Show

The New York International Auto Show got its start in 1900 and has been held every year since.  In 2003, the Toyota Prius made its world-debut there when it was still called a Concept Car.  The show usually coincides with the Easter holiday, which means it is held in late March or April. Manufacturers definitely covet the World Car of the Year Awards, which are announced at the show.  In 2014, the Audi A3 was named World Car of the Year.  The Mercedes Benz S class took home the Luxury title, and the exciting Porsche 911 GT3 scored the Performance title.

New York Auto Show

New York Auto Show

The show is in the glass palace known as the Jacob Javits Center,  With 840,000 square feet of exhibition space, there’s room for every model and the packed crowd of tourists.   This one’s right on the Hudson River. So, yes, you can take the ferry to this one.  Parking will cost you more than the $15 entrance fee, which must be the least expensive day of entertainment in New York!

Can you spot this little white car?

Can you spot this little white car?

In its 2015 edition, Honda upstaged the New York Auto Show with a new redesign of its Civic, while Cadillac launched its new CT6 flagship. The show is usually full of activities that are fun for parents and children with lots of things to do for the kids. Many exhibitors have special activities specifically for kids like simulators, videogames, movie cars. etc.

Los Angeles Auto Show

Well, it’s a long wait to November when Los Angeles hosts its Auto Show.  The sponsors claim it is the oldest show, and many would claim it was the most exciting. It is in Tinsel Town, after all.  The Los Angeles Convention Center offers 720,000 square feet of exhibition space. In 2014, it claimed 60 premieres.

Nissan Murano in the Los Angeles Auto Show

Nissan Murano in the Los Angeles Auto Show

Green cars are often introduced here in hopes of winning a coveted award.  The 2014 Green Car of the Year was the BMW i8. More than eye candy, it is a plug-in hybrid with a real pedigree.  Convertibles also find a major audience here, perhaps due to the awesome weather.  At the 2014 show,  Bentley displayed The Grand Convertible, a concept car based on the 2015 Mulsanne Speed.  With a twin-turbo V-8, this convertible has 530 horses under the hood.  Lexus offered its own luxury tourer. This convertible coupe, named the CF-C2, is based on the Lexus RC.  Not to be left out, the 2016 Mazda MX5 convertible also made its debut.  Now that one really looks like a sports car.

Photo credit Michael R Perry / flickr

2016 Mazda MX5 made its debut in Los Angeles Auto Show

With technology changing so fast, these major auto shows offer a place to see the future.  Case in point, the Chevrolet Chapparal 2X Gran Turismo is making the rounds. The rocket-like look isn’t as remarkable as the lasers that power it.