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Did Wilmington ever have a new car auto show?

Ken Little

Q. Did Wilmington ever have a new car auto show? I’m talking about an event lasting several days where the newest released models were shown, and the general public could come and see them all in one place. If there was one in the past, why is it no longer held? Is Wilmington just not large enough?

A. Wilmington has never had a comprehensive auto show, and may never have one, said Bob King, owner/president of Bob King Buick GMC in Wilmington and active as a local car dealer for 40 years.

“In Wilmington, half our market is in the water,” King said, referring to Wilmington’s seaside location. “It’s not a good place to draw people to an auto show.”

Even with the recently opened Wilmington Convention Center available as a potential venue, King said car shows in Raleigh fill the void for the rest of Eastern North Carolina.

“I think it’s more appropriate in Raleigh. I think it’s more centralized across the state and it draws a lot of people,” said King, whose dealerships in Wilmington also include Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.

It would be difficult to get the necessary logistics support from manufacturers to stage a successful car show in Wilmington, King added.

“I don’t think it’s big enough to do that,” he said.

A.J. Aliah, owner of Land Rover Cape Fear in Wilmington, thinks a Wilmington auto show is a good idea with future potential.

“I was even thinking of trying to put one on myself, but I don’t have the resources,” Aliah said. “I think the convention center is the best place to do it. I would love to be a part of it.”


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