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To the uninitiated, attending a trade show is the kind of thing that could easily be presented as the first piece of evidence in a sanity hearing.

You would have to be two cylinders short of an engine to pay to look at merchandise and give sales staff the opportunity to push said merchandise at you until you finally figure out where the exits are located. By comparison, accepting a time-share pitch after buying breakfast for the sales staff seems positively sane.

But to the initiated – and especially those who plan to attend the Canadian International Auto Show next week – there's a lot more to this than paying for the privilege of eventually paying more.

The fact is that the auto show isn't really about autos.

Oh sure, it will attract car lovers in droves the same way that the golf show lures golfers, the boat show boaters and the home show husbands with slow reflexes.

And sure, there will be plenty of car stuff on display. There will be custom-made vehicles that belong more in art galleries or churches than in any garage. There will be the latest and greatest innovations from the auto industry, including luxury items no one really needs and more examples of its holy mission to eliminate driving.

But the real lure here goes far beyond smart cup holders, butter-soft Italian kitten-hide interiors and the possibility of seeing a self-driving car that does your personal grooming for you at stoplights.

What the auto show is offering, to pull us in by the thousands, are the two things that have lured us (and by "us" I mean mostly men) for eons: dreams and sex.

There are a warehouse full of dreams here, such as a raffle promising that one lucky entrant will win "$50,000 toward your purchase" of a new car. Now, I don't know about you, but $50,000 pretty much represents the total cost of my next three new cars, so this would definitely be classified as a really big dream.

Other dreams include celebrity-owned cars, which allow us to dream that we could own these cars ourselves if only we had better agents.

Then there are all those vehicles, from Ferraris to Maseratis, that we can only dream about owning barring a lottery win or landing a CEO job at OPG.

But dreams are minor players in this game. The real lure, the visceral attraction that keeps us coming back, is sex.

And it's not just the fact that a substantial number of those attending hope to see an attractive model standing next to a new vehicle so they can ask if she's included in the sticker price – a line they know she's never heard before.

It's the fact that the show is filled with sexual imagery. There's the promise of the "hottest vehicles" featured at the Auto Exotica exhibit. If you don't see the connection between Auto Exotica and auto-erotica, well, you're missing the point.

Add in all those thrusting pistons, pumping brakes and rear seats and you've got a veritable Roman orgy with fenders.

Makes you wonder why the whole thing isn't restricted to those over 18.

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