The lights around me are flashing bright white, then blue, then purple. "Where Are Ü Now" is blaring through speakers that hang from the ceiling above me. Both of these details are making me feel weird, because it's 1PM and I'm at the New York International Auto Show. Manhattan's hottest new club is apparently the otherwise quiet North Hall of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
The reason for the club vibe is a weird one: Scion, the funky youth-oriented car brand that Toyota killed off last month, has a booth here at the show. Why that's the case isn't totally clear — the most obvious answer seems to be that the booth was booked before Toyota swung the axe. Either way, walking by the display evokes the same mix of feelings that you get when you scroll past a picture of a dead pet.
If you were hoping for some sort of wake for the Scion brand, though, this booth is about as close as you'll get. The 2016 models are all on display, including the final (limited edition) tC. It also features a handful of customized Scions that serve as a reminder for what made the brand so unique. There's the Slayer-branded tC, which has Marshall logos stitched into the seats and a sword hilt emergency brake. The 2009 Kogi "Mobile Kitchen" modification of the xD is here as well, complete with a working grill in the trunk and a fridge full of Red Bull in the rear driver's side door. Maybe the strangest of the bunch is an open-air 2006 xA that Five Axis modified with a velvet steering wheel and dual monitors behind the headrests (connected to an Xbox 360 that's loaded up with Forza, of course).
There is also, and I am not making this up, a TV screen solely dedicated to displaying a thank you letter written by Scion vice president Andrew Gillelend. I guess if you wanted to reach your customer base, but felt a digital press release was too impersonal, that this is the next best thing.
The good thing is that, despite the sudden death of the brand, Scion fans will probably be able to come to this booth and leave with a smile. Like any good wake, it's as much a celebration of Scion as it is an opportunity to say goodbye. You can pick up a Scion-branded "gadget sleeve," or nab a bright orange Scion tote bag. You can watch old Scion commercials. There's even a few charging stations, so you can top-off your smartphone's battery while you dry your tears. (I was never a big Scion fan, so I went right up to the power cords after I finished taking some pictures. I set down my camera, plugged in my phone, and — of course — nothing happened. It seemed fitting.)
Scion always felt like the perfect example of how scattered American culture was in the early aughts. The cars sported bright neon paint jobs that would have fit right in with the spastic color palette of the '90s, but the futuristic body work was a sign of our obsession with the dawn of a new millennium. Scion was a millennial brand that just happened to be born a decade before we started talking about millennials non-stop. In that sense, Toyota's weird little sub-brand had a good run. So long Scion, and thnks fr th mmrs.