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New York Auto Show: Star Power And Cross Promotions

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Dave Allocca

The New York Auto Show has been rolling out this week at New York City's Javits Center, and despite steadily rising gas prices, modesty is not its style.

Lavish parties have sprung up around the city from the likes of Bentley and Mercedes-Benz, while other car companies have reeled in a variety of celebrity endorsements.

Over at the Audi booth, longtime Audi-endorser Stephen Colbert talked up the 2011 Charleston Bermuda sailboat race, where he'll serve as chief "morale officer" of a 65-foot boat, appropriately called The Audi.

"Audi's support in this race is the next best thing to putting a sail on my own Audi and sailing to victory," Colbert joked with the crowd, adding that the boat was christened with a bottle of Jägermeister, appropriate to its German roots.

Mini also rolled out the red carpet, as three out of the four members of KISS introduced Mini Countryman vehicles complete with custom KISS design. Anyone can request "custom KISS wraps" for their Mini vehicle, but four specific cars will be signed by the band and auctioned off at the end of May, with proceeds going to UNICEF.

The band Train played a few songs to introduce the 2013 Ford Taurus. Volkswagen, not to be outdone, rented out a warehouse and featured a concert set from the Black Eyed Peas.

"The shows are pretty awesome," said Brian Reese, of Montclair, N.J. He also appreciated the show's de rigueur Bravo-celebrity appearance. "On Tuesday a friend of mine saw one of the guys from 'Iron Chef'."

A few blocks down from the Javits Center, at Pier 83, Acura had set up a tent to promote its partnership with the upcoming comic-book film "Thor," in which all S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (the fictional Marvel intelligence agency) drive sleek Acura vehicles.

Multiple lines spread around the block on 42nd Street, but it turned out the flurry was aimed at the nearby U.S consulate for the People's Republic of China.

"We're not here for Acura," said one man waiting in line to renew his passport. "I don't know what that is."

Over at the Acura tent, passersby could strap on a pair of aviator sunglasses and sign up for an original "S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent ID badge" of their own.

Actor Clark Gregg, who portrays Agent Phil Coulson in four of Marvel's recent films and drives an Acura in "Thor," was on hand for the festivities.

"These are really nice cars," Gregg said, admiring the ZDX model from the driver's seat. "I wouldn't mind having one of these for myself."

Just then, a group of protestors on the pier began a chant of "Free Tibet now."

"We can't all become Chinese citizens, but we can become agents of S.H.I.E.L.D," Gregg said.

The black S.H.I.E.L.D. Acura ZDX will be traveling around Manhattan with an "@Acura_Insider" decal. Prospective S.H.I.E.L.D Agents can submit images of car sightings via Twitter.