Nissan profiles Altima coupe at July SAMA meeting
By Paul Borden

Even though many regulars were either on vacation or on assignment out of town, turnout for the Southern Automotive Media Association’s monthly luncheon topped 30 once again, an indication that the organization has become a welcome addition to the South Florida auto scene.
Nissan was the host for the event at Smith & Wollensky’s Restaurant in South Pointe Park on Miami  Beach, and Sean Blankenship, product manager for the Altima and Maxima, was on hand to preview  the beautiful new Altima coupe. Our good friends from Nissan, Vicki Smith and Julie Lawless, also attended.  A model of the Altima coupe was on display outside the restaurant, and several members took  advantage to give it a quick once-over before returning to their work.  Blankenship noted that the coupe version of the Altima, which was unveiled in its sedan version last  November, is a “true coupe” design and “is not just a knockoff of the sedan.” At the same time, it “brings all the nice bells and whistles that the sedan has.” And access to the backseat is quite manageable. Even our vertically unchallenged president, Ron Beasley, was able to  get in and out the back without straining a muscle.

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Ron, by the way, presided over a brief business session before the meeting and reminded members that the August meeting is tentatively scheduled for “cocktail time” and, instead of a presentation by a manufacturer, members will be given the opportunity to sound off about what they would like to see for SAMA in the future.

The date and place of this business meeting have yet to be determined, but it likely will be either on the third Thursday or third Friday of the month, the usual time for the luncheon.

Beasley also reminded members to remit their dues for the year, which will be good through next June 30, and to please, please reply to e-mail notices on whether they will be able to attend future luncheons. We understand conflicts can come up at the last minute, but we need to get as accurate a count as we can for the luncheons.

SAMA is still scheduled to hold a breakfast for members on the morning of press day at the South Florida International Auto Show. Teresa Bravo, Tony Lesesne and SAMA Secretary Jaime Florez have volunteered to serve as a committee to plan the details. Also in conjunction for the auto show, SAMA Vice President Paul Borden announced that any  member who is available on the afternoon before the show (a Thursday) is welcome to serve as a judge for two awards that SAMA will present. More details are to come.

We’re looking to recognize a “Star of the Show” and a “Concept Car of the Show” with awards that will be presented at the SAMA breakfast. Treasurer Bill Adam and Terry Jackson will determine criteria for the awards.

Among upcoming events, Mercedes-Benz will sponsor the September luncheon, and the South Florida Automobile Dealers will sponsor the October luncheon. November will feature auto show activities, and Toyota will be host for our first Christmas party in December!

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