Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


IN A rich tradition of reporting on auto shows I haven’t actually attended (see Paris 2012 at, I offer an outside look at 2013 Auto Shanghai. In full disclosure, I have been to Shanghai in the past and also include some comments about this city on the Huangpu in what follows.


The hot news, of course, is with the cars, everything from a new Buick Riviera to a less-than-original Detroit Electric to the Hongqi L9, a perfect conveyance for cruising The Bund.


Buick Riviera concept car.

After a 14-year hiatus, Buick has a new Riviera, this one a plug-in hybrid coupe. A joint venture by Shanghai GM and its Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, the design was inspired by the Chinese saying, “The greatest good is like water.”

Copy that; but I’m puzzled by a comment further on in the press release. The car’s W-PHEV (wireless plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) battery pack can be recharged inductively (see or with a traditional cable. “The charging port is integrated into Buick’s iconic porthole design.”

For the life me, I see no portholes on this particular Buick.

Buick continues to do well in China, its 2012 sales of 700,007 positively dwarfing its U.S. sales of less than 200,000 in the same period.

Icona Vulcano, with friends.

Icona Vulcano, with friends.

Icona Shanghai is the local arm, just across the Huangpu in Pudong, of the Turin-based design house Icona. Its Vulcano is a swoopy hyperexotic that shares styling cues from just about everybody. Specifications include an 807-950-bhp V-12 with F1-like KERS hybridization and rear- or all-wheel drive. Described as a “one-off supersports car,” this implies the design is up for grabs. Be prepared to do a lot of development work, though.

Lamborghini Aventador 50th Anniversary.

Lamborghini Aventador 50th Anniversary.

Lamborghini displayed the Aventador LP720-4 50th Anniversary, which certainly sobers a lot of us who remember when this upstart tractor builder got ticked off with Enzo Ferrari and decided to build his own sports cars. Jeez, 50 years. The Shanghai car is in Giallo Maggio, yellow of May; it’s one of only 100 examples.

Lamborghini Gallardos, with friend.

Lamborghini Gallardos, with friend.

I’m told the young lady is one of a kind. Her name is Du Yifei, she’s 1.8 meters tall (5′ 11″), known as the Cat Woman, and to learn more visit

Detroit Electric SP:01.

Detroit Electric SP:01.

The original Detroit Electric, 1907-1939, was a Johnny-Come-Lately among electric cars back then. At the turn of that century, car propulsion was 40-percent steam, 38-percent electric and 22-percent gasoline. For electrics, it was pretty much downhill from there.

But hope springs eternal and all that. Today’s Detroit Electric SP:01 is advertised as having 201 hp, a 37-kWh battery pack and supercar performance. Its Shanghai price was given as 1,250,000 RMB ($202,180). Its U.S. website says $135,000 here. Funny, Tesla’s earlier electrification of this Lotus Elise/Exige chassis was $109,000.

Maserati Ghibli.

Maserati Ghibli, “Take three.” No, not three Ghiblis.

Maserati shortened the chassis of its lovely Quattroporte and tagged it with a legendary name as the third-generation Ghibli. (There was a two-door sedan also borrowing the Ghibli name in 1992-1997.) This new one is a reasonably handsome four-door sedan, but the sound you hear is first-generation Ghiblis hitting redline, wherever they are.


The real Ghibli was built between 1967 and 1973.

The Bund is Shanghai’s most famous thoroughfare, redolent of when this city was “the Paris of the East, the New York of the West.” A perfect conveyance for cruising The Bund—especially if you’re part of the People’s Republic Intelligentsia—is the Hongqi L9.

Hongqi L9.

Hongqi L9.

A classic design, the Hongqi L9 hasn’t changed much since the company introduced the CA72 in 1959. It paid homage to a 1955 Chrysler back then; it still does today.

The Peace Hotel,

The Peace Hotel, on The Bund. Image by Simon Fieldhouse.

I remember The Bund and its Peace Hotel (now part of the Fairmont chain). Colleague Tim Considine and I enjoyed single malts in its rooftop bar. We were entertained there by a duet, a woman playing alto sax; a man, on electric piano. Their favorite number was “Fascination.” Indeed, to the best of my memory, it was their only one. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2013

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