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When Lamborghini invited me to check out their latest car at New York International Auto Show, I couldn’t resist. Not being much of a car aficionado, I was more curious about the show itself. What goes on at these things?

First of all, the show—at the Javits Center—was massive. (I trekked around for nearly half an hour before finding the area with the top-tier wheels.) As you might also expect, most of the attendees are men. And yes, most of the manufacturers had hired models to show off their new cars. At the Toyota booth, the girls were all-American curvaceous blondes in pencil skirts. At Kia, it was sexy mom-types.

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At Lamborghini I had espresso with the company’s dashing CEO, Stephan Winkelmann. We kicked back in a sleek black structure they had built to resemble a mini-nightclub; to one side uniformed chefs sliced ham and proffered smoked salmon sandwiches. It wasn’t easy to talk, however, as the Pontiac booth next door was hosting a very loud performance from the rock band Young Lords. The din had Stephan rolling his eyes—his public relations rep explained to me that they always seem to get assigned the loudest spots at trade shows. But Lamborghini got its turn in the limelight when, at 2:40 p.m., they unveiled the 2009 Gallardo LP560-4. Models clad in skin-tight, champagne colored dresses posed around the car (priced at $198,000) and greeted press. As the PR representative whispered to me, “We try to pick ones that look Italian.”

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