This year's St. Louis Auto Show is going to be the largest one in history, and many say the near miraculous bounce back of the American auto industry is a big part of the reason why.
The show itself is dependant on auto manufacturers buying space. The better the industry is faring the more space they buy. In 2010, when GM had just fallen out of it’s spot as the world’s number one auto maker, and was in federally controlled bankruptcy along with Chrysler, the show was smaller.
This year, show officials say, the square footage being used has grown by about 22 percent, and the optimism of local dealers is sky high.
"They have a lot of new products that they're all very excited about," Leza Fluchel of the St. Louis Auto Dealer's Association told us. "They’ve been moving cars very well. Sales have been going very well for them."
The show launches just a week after General Motors regained the top spot among the world's auto makers. Part of that is certainly due to natural disasters in Japan slowing production at Toyota. But local Chevrolet dealer Johnny Londoff says it’s also a result of GM learning a few lessons.
"General Motors has a total new approach to building what consumers want," he said. "Not building what they think consumers want. But really reaching out to consumers and asking them what they want."
He says the auto giant had lost touch in the period leading up to the recession.
"Yeah, I think we did. We really did. We were not up with the rest of the manufacturers around the world."
Outside the America's Center, Tuesday, a crew from A&G Auto Spa was detailing dozens of cars for the show. Owner Saul Davidson, when asked about the difference from just a couple of years ago, described an enormous feeling of anxiety.
"Worried for them. Worried for us," he said about the U.S. car companies. "Anyone dealing with cars. A lot of people didn’t make it."
He says all of the big three have made big improvements by looking at their competitors overseas.
"A lot of the inside, it's not as 'plasticy'," he said. "The seams on the outside aren't as gapped as they used to be. A lot cleaner. A lot like the European cars for years. They've just caught up a little on just the overall styling and quality."
They'll bring that new crop of cars into the weekend's show with smiles on their faces. Business is back for American auto makers and the people who sell their cars, after a dark period some feared they wouldn't survive.
"It's a good thing for us to celebrate together," Fluchel said.
The show runs Thursday through Sunday. Click here for more information.