TAMPA — Over the years, the Tampa Bay International Car Show has served as a homework assignment of sorts for Lynn Keiter and his wife Marsha.
Sunday, the couple who split half the year in Tampa and the other on their farm in Western Maryland, were studying up on what 2014 truck will replace their 2006, four-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado.
“This is just a great place to come and compare and it’s low pressure,” Lynn Keiter said. “Somebody’s not jumping trying to sell you something. It’s low pressure and they’ll send the information to us.”
From Acuras to Audis, Lincolns to Land Rovers, Mazdas to Maseratis, the selection spanned the gamut of automobiles inside the Tampa Convention Center during the three-day show in its 24th year in Tampa.
The Keiters said in addition to great gas mileage, and safety, they want something that will last.
“We want something reliable and we prefer something that’s built in America,” Lynn Keiter said. “That’s important to us.”
Added his wife: “And resale value. The Silverados hold their resale value.”
On Dec. 31, they’ll venture to a local dealer to likely purchase another Silverado, the 2-wheel drive type, although Ford and GMC were in play.
Kimberly Pye meandered near the Infinity portion of the showroom with her children, David, 15, Justice, 11 and Hunter, 7. Her husband, Dave, couldn’t pull away from the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
“He loves it,” she said grinning, adding he’d been looking at the car for close to 20 minutes. “He’s fascinated.”
She had her own visions, which included ditching her Hummer, which will go to her son, and her Infiniti G25 for a Mercedes.
She chose her Infiniti as a daily commuter over the Hummer due to the difference in miles per gallon. Despite the Hummer commanding a healthy dose of the bank account, Pye, of Brooksville, has her reasons to keep it around.
She was driving her mother’s SUV when she was 17 and it flipped.
“The only reason her and I lived was because we were in a big SUV, so I like safety,” she said.
Jason Vining and his two sons, Tyler and Stephen, were also caught in the glow of the Stingray.
Tyler spotted the car on the road Saturday and was sure it was foreign.
“It was a bright red car and as we drove up behind it, it looked like a Ferrari,” Tyler Vining said. “As we pulled up I saw the ‘Stingray’ and was really confused.”
Jason Vining has made the trip to the auto show two previous years just to look. But this year he did some scouting for his father.
The Stingray, naturally, caught his eye.
“We saw this and it looks really nice. … I can see him driving it,” Jason Vining said of his dad. “I can see me driving it. I really like it.”
Dennis Barth had no choice but to try out the miniscule Fiat Sunday. It had his name on it.
As he climbed out of a sporty, black 2013 Fiat Abarth Cabrio, his friend chose that moment to heckle him.
“I got a shoe horn in my pocket,” the friend shouted. “You wanna borrow it?”
Barth laughed it off. Besides, he’s no stranger to small cars. He owns a Mini Cooper.
“We come to it every year just to see what the new cars will be,” said Barth, a St. Petersburg resident. “Sit in them, try them out, and see if anything has changed.”
Barth may not be looking for a car just yet, but he takes the time to sit inside a vehicle, get a feel for the visibility of the dashboard and the comfort of the seats.
“It gives you an idea of what’s coming out,” he said, “and the new technology.”