It seems every year I write an article about the state of the car show scene in Vancouver/the Lower Mainland. Usually it’s a somewhat scathing review of how the scene is declining, with a hopeful outlook for the future. I’ve always argued that the car scene has to try and ignore the shortcomings of local shows and support them so we can keep the scene alive. But now I’m over hoping for better.
This year, Mark Seto and his team decided to roll the dice and add Vancouver to the lineup for Driven, the aftermarket auto show. This was a pretty risky move. You might think that a car show in Vancouver would be a no-brainer, but this city isn’t known for its its affordability. Space runs at a premium, especially for big events. It’s fine if you’re Cirque du Soleil, but if you’re trying to cram 300+ cars into one space, it becomes infinitely more tricky.
This would probably explain the last minute (two week) venue change from downtown Vancouver to the PNE Colosseum. At first, I was a little disappointed by this announcement, but after experiencing the roll-in for the show, I could imagine that it would have been a nightmare in downtown Vancouver. Not to mention, parking would have been a headache for spectators.
So did the gamble pay off? Well, I’m not sure as I don’t have access to the Driven show’s books, but they’ve already decided they’ll be back next year. It’s true, there were some small hiccups here and there, and sure, the roll-in could have maybe gone a bit smoother, but I’m also pretty sure parking cars in the concourse of a hockey rink (I realize this sounds very Canadian) is no easy task. Looking at the big picture, I think the show was a success.
Why was it a success? First and foremost, the show worked because it was filled with cars I hadn’t seen at every other meet or show. I expected to walk in and see the same old everything, but was pleasantly surprised. Vancouver is filled with plenty of cool cars and sometimes we take that for granted. I talked to a few people visiting from out-of-province and country, and they were blown away by the caliber of cars that can be found in the Lower Mainland.
Plenty of local shops that had stopped attending shows made an appearance at Driven. The show planners went out of their way to reach out and involve as many different automotive factions and groups in the show as possible. I think this grassroots approach paid off. They didn’t need to rely on tastemakers and trendsetters telling people the show was going to be cool.
Additionally, the show was actually at a real venue – and I think that means something. Yes that made roll-in a little bit more complicated, but it was a change of scenery from a regular old parking lot (and sheltered us from the wet that is Vancouver). Over the last few years, my event coverage has started to meld together into an indiscernible mess of shots from the same or slightly different parking lots. However, when I look at my photos of Driven, I’ll know it was Driven because it was in an arena. It’s sort of reminiscent of the glory days of car shows from the early 2000’s.
In writing these articles, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really a car show person. I’m just a person who likes cars and goes to shows. I’ve also discovered that a good portion of my friends aren’t really that type either. But in spite of this, they still came out and supported the scene, because Driven opted to support our scene. This isn’t something you see a lot of. Vancouver hasn’t had much of a show scene the last few years; it’s mostly been a trail of shortcomings and broken promises. It’s nice to see a show finally come in and deliver on its promises.
The car scene can be littered with egos and drama at the best of times. Thankfully, there’s still room for the sense of community that was present at Driven. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for the future and I’m glad to see a Canadian-based show succeed inside its own borders. I’m over hoping for better because Driven IS better.