2017 San Francisco Auto Show: 5 Things You Can't Miss

CARS.COM — A mere 380 miles stand between San Francisco and Los Angeles, but vast differences abound between the famously image-conscious Angelinos and their tech-savvy neighbors to the north. Stereotypes aside, when it comes to driving, both cities know a thing or two about how to hit the road.

While the upcoming 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show promises plenty of the requisite Hollywood-style glitz and glamour in automotive form, the San Francisco Chronicle 60th Annual International Auto Show — aka the 2017 San Francisco International Auto Show — will kick off November's car-show season in California on Saturday with a diverse mix of more than 600 of the latest vehicles from 35 of the world's major vehicle manufacturers.

Related: How to Car Shop at an Auto Show

Born as the Import Car Show in 1958 as a unique venue where Americans could go to connect with foreign automakers, the San Francisco International Auto Show has since grown into an annual weekend tradition for many Bay Area families.

Now in its 60th year, the show — which runs Nov. 18-26 at downtown San Francisco's 1.2-million-square-foot Moscone Center — will feature manufacturer test drives, exotic-car exhibits and the latest in eco-friendly automotive innovation.

Live in the Bay Area or planning a holiday weekend visit? Here are five reasons you should consider heading to the show during its nine-day run:

1. Test Drives on San Francisco Streets

Always dreamed of zig-zagging down Lombard Street behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz? Auto-show guests can realize those dreams with test drives through the streets of downtown San Fran. Among the Mercedes-Benz models expected to be available for test drives during the show: the CLA250, C300 and E300 sedans; E400 coupe; and GLA250 and GLE550 SUVs. Test drives will also be offered by Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Mazda, Ram, Smart and Toyota. See the show's website for details about models slated for test drives.

2. Green Cars Galore

"Californians buy half of all plug-ins sold in the United States," according to Kevin Diamond, show director — and the 2017 show will have more zero-emissions and hybrid vehicles on display than in past years.

Headlining the fleet of green vehicles will be the 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV and competitors, including the latest versions of the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius. Six electric-vehicle manufacturers will offer test drives on two days, Nov. 20 and 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Show guests can also check out Pacific Gas and Electric's 4,200-square-foot electric-car ownership exhibit to determine whether their home is compatible with electric-car charging.

3. Customized Cars

The younger demographic — and general fans of tricked-out autos — will appreciate the fleet of customized and modified vehicles that will be on display in the Esplanade Ballroom's San Francisco Auto Salon. Find everything from award-winning show cars to mildly customized street cars.

"Our plan was to give a younger demographic something special they would relate to, different from the manufacturers' production vehicles or the Academy of Art exhibit of beautiful classic cars," Diamond said.

4. Classic-Car Collection

Classic-car lovers will get up-close views of more than 30 classic cars dating back as early as the 1920s that will be showcased in an exhibit from San Francisco's Academy of Art University Automobile Museum. Curator Wayne Barnes hand-selected the cars for the exhibit, including a 1928 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8 cabriolet, 1931 Rolls-Royce P1 Regent convertible, 1959 Edsel Corsair convertible and 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.

5. Exotic Sports Cars

The show will pack a solid collection of exotics, too, including a McLaren exhibit and a dozen Aston Martin models ranging from 1952 to 2014. Exhibitors from the Ferrari Club of America, the Aston Martin Club and other highfalutin automakers like Lamborghini and Bentley will be on hand to showcase new and classic models.

Tickets are $10 for adults, and children age 12 or younger get in free. The show is open Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Nov. 19-23 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Nov. 24-25 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Nov. 26 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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