After week of layoffs and budget woes, Detroit auto show opens to eager car fans

Saturday, January 12th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ Car enthusiasts flocked Saturday to the North American International Auto Show after a week of industry layoffs and budget woes that many were eager to forget.

``Maybe the auto show's a good way to escape all that,'' said Jeff Sosnowski, who was intrigued by BMW's new Mini Cooper S, an update of a popular British car from the 1960s. ``It's, you know, a little bit of fantasy.''

Many fans, as well as those in the industry, had good reason to look for escapism.

On Friday, Ford Motor Co. announced plans to slash 35,000 jobs worldwide, drop five models and close five plants. Earlier in the week, General Motors Corp. said it wants to cut 10 percent of its North American white-collar work force, or about 4,700 people, through attrition and buyouts.

Not that such concerns were on every mind. The talk around a platform displaying the 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10 was about how it would feel to drive near the high end of the car's 220 mph speedometer.

Even at the age of 4, Caleb Tegey knew what he wanted.

``Viper!'' Caleb exclaimed when his father asked what he might like to take home from the show.

The show, which runs through Jan. 21, drew an estimated 770,000 people last year. Concept vehicles and futuristic displays seemed to be this year's biggest draws.

``I want to see what's going to be out there in five years,'' said Nick McClung, who hopes to get a Volkswagen Beetle. ``It's different. It's `me' somehow.

``That's what people are here for: hoping to find what's `me' for them.''