Pittsburgh International Auto Show kicks off with media preview, charity gala

by: Carly Noel Updated:

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PITTSBURGH,None - The 2012 Pittsburgh International Auto Show gets under way on Friday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

On Thursday, I attended a media preview for the show that the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association calls “a supermarket for anything on wheels.”

Photos: Vehicles at the 2012 Auto Show

The latest domestic and foreign cars, trucks and SUVs will be at convention center through Monday for guests to look at in a non-selling environment.

“We’ve got over 700 vehicles representing 35 manufacturers, so literally almost any car you’d ever want to look at is here,” said John Putzier, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association.

John’s right! The show has something for everyone -- from the award winners to the green machines.  

“We’re standing in front of the 2013 Ford Fusion.  It’s the first sedan that’s going to offer three unique power trains that will give it the best in class fuel economy,” said Mike Murphy, Ford’s car and crossover marketing manager.

The new Fusion features gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid options.  Very cool.

The car probably turning the most heads is the Lexus LFA. 

“I know Paris Hilton has one.  In fact, she has a white one like this,” said Zachary Schafer, Lexus product specialist.

The price tag on the LFA at the show is $381,000.

Downstairs at the "Red CARpet Charity Preview Gala," Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma talked to me about some Lexus cars.

“I’m hoping my wife doesn’t get over to the Lexus vehicles because I know she has her eye on one of those, and we’re probably in the market for a new car this summer,” said Bylsma.

Photos: Red CARpet Charity Gala

The gala, where I caught up with Bylsma, benefited the Mario Lemieux Foundation’s Austin’s Playroom Project.

“As a family, we’ve had experiences in Austin’s Playroom, and what it does for those families and Children’s Hospital is wonderful.  We’re happy to enjoy the evening and have it benefit the Lemieux Foundation,” said Bylsma.

Hanging out with Bylsma at the party were Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato and general manager Ray Shero.  I asked Shero if he was excited about any car in particular at the auto show.

“I like a few of them, but my wife has her eyes on this Range Rover behind us,” said Shero.

Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and former Steeler Lynn Swann also attended the gala and checked out some of the new vehicles.

“The enthusiasm about the wonderful products that we have to offer to the consumers today and the great quality, it’s all there.  It’s never been better than it is today,” said Jim Smail of Smail Auto Group. 

You can take a look at all of the great new vehicles between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

The Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association expects about 60,000 people to pass through the convention center.

For ticket and other information, click here.

Click here to enter the WPXI $1,100 Auto Show Cash Giveaway Contest.