Jacksonville’s former Downtown rail station will be filled with another kind of wheels this weekend. The 37th annual Jacksonville International Auto Show will return to the Prime Osborn Convention Center for a four-day display of new cars, trucks and more.
As an expanded part of the annual new car and truck show, multiple events for adults and children will be held as a classic car display shines among the latest from automakers.
The show, from Thursday through Sunday, is sponsored by the Jacksonville Automobile Dealers Association and its 62 dealer members in Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. Auto companies from Bentley and Ford to Volvo and Volkswagen will showcase dozens of the newest cars, vans, crossovers, hybrids, trucks and sport utilities.
Sponsors expect a huge weekend full of people interested in kicking tires as well as enjoying the new events at the show, said Alan Verlander, whose Airstream ventures company took over show production this year. He said organizers have rebooted the event, resulting in more car companies with vehicles to see, he said.
“Now we have 18 manufacturers, which is one of the best auto shows for our size city in the country. I think you will see a lot of people attending,” Verlander said. “The weather looks like it’s perfect to be inside and look at cars, but we have also created an experience. If you kind of like cars, but like events, there’s going to be a lot of different things to do.”
All of the main display halls of the Prime Osborne will be filled with new vehicles, some in front of huge video screens or lit displays. Workers were arranging them Wednesday in anticipation of that evening’s VIP party. The dealers association has donated more than $2.4 million to nonprofit organizations through the show.
Outside, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche and BMW will have new-vehicle test drives, with drivers and passengers asked to sign a waiver of liability.
As to what kind of vehicle people will see, Verlander said there are lots of possibilities.
“There’s a lot of cool EVs” — meaning electric vehicles. “And obviously, there’s your traditional gas-powered car,” he said. “Trucks are a popular, as are SUVs. … There’s well over 100 vehicles in here that people can come look and feel.”
Along with new vehicles, the Southern Star chapter of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America will display members’ cars at the show.
Among the events this year:
- Ladies Night — 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, to benefit Rethreaded, a nonprofit agency that helps survivors of human trafficking. The night will include wine tastings and live music. Tickets are available on 904 Tix.
- Whiskey, Wine and Wheels — 6 p.m. Friday, with bourbon and wine tastings and live music from the Vox Band. Admission requires upgrading to a VIP ticket.
- Saturday First Responders Day — Active military and first responders will receive free admission with a valid ID. College students also receive $5 off tickets with a valid ID. Children’s choir performances are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and live music by the Chris James Band starting at 6 p.m.
- Sunday Education Day — The program includes a special Daytona 500 showing and children’s choir performances from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Kids Zone, presented by the The Y — The event will feature Mini-Me Motor Club and face painting all four days.
- Classic Car Museum of St. Augustine — The museum will have a display of antiques and muscle cars during the show for the second year in a row.
Thursday’s show runs from 3 to 9 p.m., then hours are noon to 9 pm. Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15 per adult, $9 for seniors, $8 for military and free for children under 12. Parking is free courtesy of VyStar Credit Union.
For more information and e-tickets, go oto thejaxautoshow.com.