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The Wheel Thing: LA Car Show has mini-SUV's, a cool Chevy concept and dirt-defying paint




Chevy showed its concept car, the Chaparral 2X VGT, at the LA Auto Show. The futurist racer pays homage to the Chaparral's that dominated tracks in the 1960's
Chevy showed its concept car, the Chaparral 2X VGT, at the LA Auto Show. The futurist racer pays homage to the Chaparral's that dominated tracks in the 1960's
General Motors

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The international auto business is focused on Los Angeles this week, as the LA Auto show gets ready for its public opening on Friday.

But all week, auto makers have been hyping their latest innovations to the automotive press corps.

Take Two's car critic Susan Carpenter has been taking it all in, and she says although companies claim to be "premiering" 30 cars, there are really only a handful of truly new vehicles.

Among the most interesting, new sub-compact crossover vehicles from Mazda, Honda and Fiat. Car companies expect these "mini-SUVs" to be big sellers.

Auto shows always feature concept cars - manufacturers' blue-sky visions of the future. But this year, Carpenter likes a vehicle that has its genesis rooted firmly in the past.  The Chevy Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo is a modern take on the Chaparral vehicles that dominated racing in the 1960's.

And here's something for everyone concerned about the drought and water conservation. Nissan showed a version of its all-electric Leaf, treated with a special paint that repels dirt and grime. It's a matte finish that features something called a superhydrophobic surface - water rolls off it, and dust and dirt blow away. The company is billing it as The World's Cleanest Car, because it produces zero emissions and never gets dirty. Nissan couldn't say when the anti-dirt paint might be available, but it expects it to be introduced as an after-maker product that will be applied over the standard factory finish.

Susan Carpenter is auto and motorcycle critic for the OC Register. She joins Take Two each week for The Wheel Thing.