From flying cars to sexy hybrids: A Recap of the 2012 New York International Auto Show

This Saturday, the biggest names in the auto industry unveiled new concept models and top-secret creations at the 2012 New York International Auto Show. Held at the Jacob Javits Center and beginning at 10 a.m., the event drew throngs of excited fans, with many spending more than few agitated minutes trying to figure out just what booth to head to first.

Overall, the auto show was all about attracting auto fans, and every company went about this differently, whether by lights, sound, promotions or eye-catching displays. Jeep built perhaps the most creative display of all: a log flume-style track that attendees could navigate on their own. Those who wanted to brave the long line could ride full-size test Jeeps along steep 45-degree angle curves and over wooded rumble strips to the delight of attendees enjoying hot dogs and knishes in the warm spring weather.

Fiat, on the other hand, took a different approach, attracting attendees with generous handouts and the look of their sleek models (both the cars themselves and the girls touting the vehicles). In addition, BMW showcased its social media savvy – offering free umbrellas to the first 10 Foursquare users who checked in to its booth.

Similarly, while the marketing minds of the auto world were on full display, the event as a whole showcased the wide smorgasbord that the industry’s creative minds are set to serve up to the public. As such, some models were meant more as a novelty than an actual day-in and day-out vehicle. In particular, the more than $2 million Bugatti Noir Blanc and the roofless redux of the 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster were among the more notable creations if only for their individuality.

However, there were some trends at the show that may give car owners a good idea of where the auto industry is heading on the whole. Despite the fact that recent years have marked the height of vintage fashion – with the exception of the Roadster and certain Fiat models – the car industry had its eye on the future. Many models – the Nissan NV200 Taxi, the Infiniti LE concept car, the rebranded SRT Viper – made waves for their futuristic looks and use of electricity.

Here are some of the highlights of the show:

The Terrafugia Transition – While the idea of a flying car is pretty cool, I’d all but consider the Transition a misfire. With wings that fold up against the side of the vehicle, calling the model a “flying car” is a bit like calling the Toshiba T1100 a laptop, it was the first of its kind, but clunky and impractical.

The Fisker Atlantic – Fisker is a company with an admirable goal – creating sporty, affordable electric cars that don’t look like toasters on wheels. I personally have long bemoaned the state of the electric car – wondering to myself why it doesn’t make sense to make versions of these vehicles with attractive designs – but with the Atlantic, Fisker seems to have beaten the rest of the field to the punch, though it’s unlikely that the cars will appeal to families as much as the company’s officials seem to hope.

The 2013 Porsche Boxster – While much of the hubbub around Porsche centered on the diesel-powered Cayenne – a pricey luxury SUV – the real eye catchers were the newest Porsche Boxsters. With improved efficiency and optional sleek cream-yellow paint jobs and burgundy interiors, the Porsches weren’t as in your face as other offerings. Rather, these models struck a solid balance between intrigue and appeal without trying too hard, an approach that other companies could have definitely have benefitted from taking.

For a full set of photos from the event, click here.