As international auto shows go, Detroit -- celebrating only its eighth anniversary -- is a mere baby compared to the likes of shows in Paris, Frankfurt or Tokyo. But what it lacks in age it has more than made up for in prestige, and it's tallied as a premier event on any serious automaking calendar. This year's North American International Auto Show runs from Jan. 6 to Jan. 15.

Age can be misleading, however, to set the record straight, this is the 80th auto show in Detroit sponsored by the Detroit Area Dealers Assn. It's only the last eight that have drawn world attention in a big way, though.

This year more than 40 automakers will display more than 700 vehicles on two floors covering 700,000 sq. ft. at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit.

Organizers are looking for another record crowd and hope to top last year's nearly 700,000 visitors, including more than 4,400 journalists from 43 countries.

North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards will highlight the opening Press-day events on Jan. 2. That days' events also include the Society of Automotive Analysts Conference, and an Automotive Press Assn./DADA media reception.

Suppliers flock to the floor on Jan. 4 and 5, and the traditional black-tie-only Charity preview wraps up the non-public events from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 5. The gala preview hopes to attract upwards of 12,000 guests and raise more than $1.6 milion for 10 Detroit-area children's charities.

World concept car introductions at this year's NAIAS include the U.S.-built Mercedes-Benz AAV, Volvo C7 Coupe, Chrysler LHX, Dodge ESX sports/family sedan, Mazda MPV and GMC Sonoma GT sport truck.

Worldwide production car intros include the U.S.-designed Acura CL, AM General Hummer, 1997 BMW Z-3 roadster, 1997 Buick LeSabre sedan and Park Avenue, 1997 Cadillac Catera, Chevrolet Malibu and S-Series sport-side pickup, 1997 Dodge Viper, 1997 Ford F-150 pickup, GMC Savana van, Lexus LX 450 SUV, 1997 Mercury Mountaineer, 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix, Toyota 4Runner and the Vector M12.

Concept vehicles making their North American debuts include the classic Audi TTS convertible. Honda SSM sport study, Mitsubishi GAUS new-age SUV and the Subaru SUV.

North American production car debuts include: BMW 528i, 1997 Jeep Wrangler, Kia G-car, Lamborghini Diablo Targa, Porsche 911 Targa and Carrera 4S and VW TDI versions of the Golf, Jetta and Passat wagon.