The annual Utah Auto Show is under way at the Salt Palace, a $10 million gathering of cars, trucks, vans and assorted multipurpose vehicles that Preston Kearsley, president of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association (UADA), says is earning a reputation as one of the biggest and best in the West.

"We had 85,000 people come through here last year, and we expect to top 100,000 this time," said Kearsley of the show, which runs through Sunday and costs about $500,000 to produce.Some 175 new-car and truck dealers statewide are represented in the show, now in its third year. More than 300 cars from 30 manufacturers worldwide are on display.

"When we began this show three years ago the factories were a little reluctant to give us their top displays," said Kearsley. "Now, many of our dealers' displays come directly from the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. This type of factory support demonstrates the progress we've made and the respect our show is garnering in the automotive industry."

Visitors to the show have an opportunity to win a 1989 Buick Century, courtesy of the Utah Better Buick Dealers. Also on hand are manufacturers and distributors of automotive accessories. Demonstration and free products are available along with on-the-spot financing through local financial institutions.

At Thursday's ribbon cutting to launch the show, the association inducted the late W.D. "Big Bill" Rishel into the UADA Hall of Fame.

Rishel, who died in 1947, was described by Kearsley as "a towering figure" and "a pioneer on wheels" in Utah's early motoring history.

"Bill was the first man to map automotive routes throughout Utah and the Intermountain West," said Kearsley. "He recorded these routes in logs of advice that became the forerunner of the American Automobile Association's (AAA) `trip-tiks.'

"Bill also conceived the notion of Salt Lake City as the hub of Western highways, a distinction that our city greatly enjoys today."

In the 1930s, said Kearsley, Rishel promoted the Bonneville Salt Flats as "The Birthplace of Speed."

Tickets to the show are $4 each, children under 12 free. Discount coupons worth $1 off the admission price are available at all 7-Eleven stores in Utah and at participating dealers.

Show hours are Friday to 10 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Manufacturers represented at the show include Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler/Ply-mouth/Dodge, Ford, GMC Trucks, Honda, Hyun-dai, Isuzu, Jaguar, Lincoln/Mercury, Mazda, Mer-cedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Porsche, Saab, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, Volvo, Volkswagen and Yugo.