2011 Los Angeles Auto Show Final; Cleaning out my Notebook

Cleanup Photo
We've just finished cleaning out our notepads from this year's Los Angeles Auto Show and collected all the remaining notes we took during our two-day march on the show floor. As a kind of photo gallery, we've combined all the information we could decipher with some of our favorite photos. Here are a few of the things we saw and found out. 

Cleanup 1
At the Chevy pre-LA Show press conference, there were two Sparks, one Volt, and a wicked ZL1 Camaro convertable, but not a pickup to be seen--unless you count this 100th Anniversary decoration in the corner. It wasn't even edible. Still, there's plenty to love about a well-restored early half-ton pickup, even if it's only two feet long.   

Cleanup 14
We poked around a little bit, asking anyone who would listen to us about the long-invisible Toyota A-BAT. We know Bob Carter, Group VP and General Manager of Toyota Division, is on record saying it's dead, but that could mean it's been decided that only Toyota shouldn't make a go of it. That doesn't mean it couldn't come back as some kind of Prius pickup or possibly a Scion (note: the head of Scion, Jack Hollis, has expressed interest in a "pickup-truck-like" vehicle as part of his growth strategy). Still, no one would confirm or deny when or if we'll ever see a newer version of the compact silver bullet. 

Cleanup 4
This was a cool display in the Ford Truck area. The top left tailgate is from a 1948 F-1, called the first half-ton pickup truck by some. The tailgate beneath it is from a 1953 F-100. The top right 'gate is from a 1965 F-100 four-door crew cab, the first F-Series crew that Ford ever made. And the last (lower right) tailgate is from a 2012 F-150 painted Golden Bronze Metallic. Can you guess which model F-150 it came from? (hint, the paint color should get you close.) 

Cleanup 5
Most of our attention is first and foremost focused on pickup trucks at a big show like this, but we saw this in the underground parking garage and had to shoot a photo. This is a late 90s K5 Blazer that has the 6.5L Detroit Diesel--one of our all-time favorites. 

Cleanup 6
We got a product planning higher-up to, once again, shout from the rooftops that the Honda Ridgeline is not going away. In fact, he said, they are in the middle of figuring out what the next Ridgeline will be. It could go more truck-ish, or head toward more SUV-like, or should it get even more car-like? Regardless of what (most likely, very conservative) strategy they do choose, the fact they haven't finalized plans yet means they're still, at least, two years out before we see something, and likely won't be too extreme. 

Cleanup 3
Land Rover designers have been showing off a Defender 90 replacement concept lately (the D-90 is a hardcore 4x4 still being produced for sale around the world, but didn't come here in any volumes because it can't fully accept the needed airbag technology), with the latest version called the DC100 shown at L.A. If this does get done, we'd expect to see some of the same types of styling cues on the pickup truck models that Land Rover sells globally as a Defender 130. To date, Land Rover has made no announcements regarding importing a new Defender or re-entering the truck market with a new pickup truck.  

Cleanup 7
If you're a regular visitor or searcher of YouTube, you've probably seen the Team Hot Wheels videos of their crazy, death-defying stunts. Hot Wheels had a display at the show where they showed the truck Tanner Foust used for his "Team Yellow" stunt jumps and drives. If you've never seen one of these ProTruck-style trucks up close, you need to check out all the amazing technology they pack into such a tight space.  

Cleanup 8
The basement of the LA Auto Show is always a fun place to explore because that's where they put the west coast custom car shops and the vehicles they like to sell to the music and movie celebrities who love to shop for one-of-a-kind cars and trucks. There were some very cool customs on display. 

Cleanup 9
This early Ranchero was built by Galpin Auto Sports of Southern California and is a great mix of Shelby and classic Ford. 

Cleanup 11
You don't see too many H1s anymore, especially with 26-inch rims that look too small for the vehicle. The fact that the tires are 40 inches tall may have something to do with the proportions being a little off. And, yes, this is a horrible photo but we blame the lighting. 

Cleanup 10
This AEV Brute was setup with all sorts of expedition gear, specifically designed for a K9 patrol unti. The bed was caged in with all sorts of side-mounted storage units and tool attachments. This extreme 4x4 would be perfect for a mountain search and rescue team. 


Thats a really cool idea of the Ford guys w/ the tailgates good idea love to see nostalgic stuff w/ new stuff. The k5 w/ the diesel one of my favorite GM models ever. Sad not to see GM putting up any truck stuff and the only mopar being a jeep pickup despite its badass-ness. Nice coverage of the lack of pickups ya gave us cool stuff none the less

@Mark Williams I just hope those BAT type concepts by both Toyota and GM stay dead, What an automotive dead end they would have been if somenone was silly enough to try and produce them.

Agreed with Robert Ryan, a hybrid CUV truck is a puny niche.

The resources are better invested in pushing up the fuel economy of the mid-sized trucks. Hint to Toyota: take the money that would've been wasted on the A-BAT, and invest in a 4-cylinder diesel for the North American market Tacoma. A capable diesel mid-size pickup truck with substantially higher fuel economy than a 1/2 ton will steal a ton of 1/2 ton sales from other brands, and give Toyota an insurmountable lead in the mid-size market.

Or they can just wait for GM to come at them guns blazing with the new Colorado, which will have powertrains making the Tacoma's look ancient in comparison, and that will reflect in the mileage. I think this may be another example of Toyota squandering a lead.

Still, there's plenty to love about a well-restored early half-ton pickup, even if it's only two feet long.

I echo Robert Ryans sentiments. Those CUV/Hybrid/Crossover trucks such as the Toyota A-Bat need to stay dead IMO...Maybe there's someone out there who likes them, but I'm yet meet anyone that does. And I think that those would be a terrible step in the wrong direction for pickups.

I really like the Ford tailgate display its a nice comparison, and it also just goes to show that 1/2 ton trucks today aren't actually that much larger than 1/2 ton's of yesterday despite popular belife. The 2012 tailgate appears to only slightly taller and a tad narrower than the 1965 F-100's tailgate.

I think the Ridgeline is headed towards extinction. Rumors have been floating around for awhile that Honda is planning on the letting the Truck/Crossover die a quite and un-eventful death. If Honda has no plans for any serious updates anytime soon then I suspect sales will drop even further over time only pushing deeper into the void.

I have admit that H-1 is badass looking!...And I normally can't stand the site of wheels bigger than 18 inches. But with the H-1's massive tire size and overal size the 26 inchers look just about right on it.

I have like the K5 Blazer but I was never really a big fan of the 6.5L diesel.

Seems odd for the Chevrolet display not to have any actual trucks, since that is the segment where they (or any domestic) still retain good market share in SoCal.
Even if an A-Bat inspired trucklet from Toyota is not to be, I think we havent sen the last of it. With interest at Scion, there could be a good case. I don't think the Prius group would embrace a trucklett, however. I think cross-over trucks are far from dead. If Subaru had rolle dout the Baja when gas topped $4, it might have worked. It has to have more advantages than sortfalls, though- pricing in the low twenties, milage in the high twenties. I think the market would present itself once someone executes correctly, and at the right time.
Funny that Ford built a half-ton Crew-cab in '65, and then it took over 30 years for them, or anyone to do so again.
Those Diesel Blazers were cool, even if far from perfect. Must be areplacement bumper on that one (missing the cooling ports).
With the Element reaching the end of its life cycle, Honda would do well to develop something that can have derivatives to fil both niches. Both vehicles are incredibly practical, hated by many and adored by their owners.
At first I thought that Hummer pick-up was some sort of smaller body kit, as it just looked much smaller, in relation to the wheels/tires. This trend of off-road tires withwheels over 18" has to end soon (I hope).
I would really like to see a Brute with a flat-bed some time, since the bed is half the cost of the conversion (in parts, anyway). I've considered that myself.

Mark Williams
nice work covering the show and thanks for all the pictures, sure wish i had your job

I like the Ford tailgate display. You have to remember that the 1953 F-100 and 1948 F1 were step side trucks.

A small diesel in the Tahoe/Suburban would be a hot seller. I used to see diesel Ford Excursions used by contactors with big crews all the time.

Odd that GMC would not have a single truck on display.

My brother has a K5 Diesel he uses for plowing snow. When it runs, it runs good, but needs a lot of pampering.

Thanks Mark for the great picture. Love that 59 Chevy El
Camino and the early 70s Ford Ranchero. The Range Rover concept is neat. I wouldn't mind to see a Scion pickup made from the A-Bat concept. This would not be for the hardcore truck buyer but for a light duty runabout with a direct injected fuel sipping 4 cylinder and a 6 speed manual overdrive this would be great. Not all pickups need to be half tons are more. Thank you for other stories besides Raptors. Not that I hate Raptors but many of us readers were getting Raptor overdose. I was to the point of not ever reading anything again on this site and not ever owning another Ford, even though I own a Ford and do not hate them. I understand that that was your job to write an article covering the Raptor but it was just too much Raptor. I know the Ford loyalist will criticise me for saying anything negative about a Ford, which I do not hate Fords just don't want to overdose on them. The Jeep pickup in your other article is interesting too, I prefer this extended cab version to the four door which resembles a Hummer. Would like to see Chrysler succeed in the truck area. I would like to see that compact RAM come to production--the one that resembles the 40s Power Wagon. Thanks again.

Ford is by far the automaker with the best chance of doing a front-drive truck that is any good. Based on the next generation Transit Connect platform, built in the same US factory as it will be, sharing the same drivetrains, same assembly line, etc.

Transit Connect is the same length as A-BAT. Current model with old 2.0L 4-cylinder and 4-speed auto gets 22 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Next generation model with 2.0 direct injection standard, 1.6 turbo optional, 2.0 turbo optional could get as high as 35 mpg highway and high 20's city, while having a 3400 lb curb weight and 1600 lb payload. Throw in Ford's REVO-knuckle anti-torque steer design and a limited slip and it would be remarkably capable, nevermind Ford's C-segment platform may allow for AWD too. Doing a soft, CUV type thing is a recipe for wasted R&D.

What I described above, robust enough design for commercial use, built with existing tech on existing assembly lines, 35 mpg highway and 1600 lb payload and price starting in the teens and handling like a small car...sounds too good to be true in light of the crap we get here now. This is the small FWD truck people could benefit from, not some $30K, slow, poor-handling, 4000 lb+ eco-fashion accessory that saves you at best a few hundred bucks a year.

The reason Ford is getting lots of press is they are the only ones doing anything newsworthy. Ram and Nissan are the other two that have had decent exposure here lately. Note that they too are releasing info and new product info to the press. GM has been quiet. From what has been reported they arent even offering much truck wise as auto shows.

I'm surprised by the lack of GM truck coverage. They either have some big bombshells waiting, or are still struggling to catch up to Ram and Ford.
No news is definately NOT good news.
I hope that the Detroit autoshow will be an eye opener.

I know this is old but could not help it. I don't think that one is a diesel. All 6.5 diesels had big square holes in the front bumper for cooling and some blazers had a sticker on the hood.

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