Events in the past couple of weeks featured settings around the world where you could enjoy the automobile business.
As always, the Geneva auto show was interesting. Although the economy has just about everybody's profit-and-loss statement dripping with red ink, the show was filled with great prototypes and new models. The annual show signals the end of winter -- and for anyone interested in talking to a European auto executive, Geneva is the place to be.
For contrast, you could hurry back for the Autorama in Detroit. It's the best hot-rod show in the land, filled with hundreds of cars whose owners have spent thousands of dollars to make each one unique. There may be other hot-rod shows, but Autorama's the biggest and best.
At the same time, there was the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, which Bill Warner has put on for 18 years just outside Jacksonville, Fla. The show gets better each year thanks to the enthusiasm and skill of Warner, the founder.
This concours event now rivals the best in the nation and is a showplace for some of the finest European and American classics, with just enough race cars and off-beat vehicles to make it unique.
Three great shows with a common theme: celebrating the automobile in all sizes and shapes. Different folks, maybe, but all the visitors had a common trait: their passion for the business and the automobile.
Automobiles -- new and old, restored and modified -- ignite a passion no other industry can match. The manufacturers are passionate, and so are the customers. In the space of a week, I can't think of three other automotive events that are so different yet have that common thread.
Because of the distances, you might not have seen many of the same folks at all three events. But it would have been interesting to note the commonality if they were held within 100 miles of one another.
Car industry events are different. But they are much the same. Add racing to those three events and you would discover that everyone has gasoline in his or her veins.
Maybe that's why the auto industry is so exciting and so global. The cars are different, but the passion is the same.