McLaren MP4-12C

Prime your pumps, people: Beginning this Thursday, that coveted new car smell is coming to Boston in a big way.

In just two days, expectant car consumers and innovative technology lovers will be flooding to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in the Seaport for the 2013 New England International Auto Show. The event opens Thursday, Jan. 17, at noon and coasts through Monday, Jan. 21, closing its doors at 6 p.m.

This year’s auto show marks the 56th edition of the event billed as the largest of its kind in New England. True to form, there will be a bevy of beautiful rides big and small, eco-friendly and gas-guzzling. Attendees can reportedly expect to see $16 million worth of vehicles–from Buicks to Bentleys and everything in between–from 32 manufacturers splayed across an area the size of six football fields. And speaking of football, the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez will be in attendance Thursday night from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. And on Sunday afternoon, members of the Celtics Dancers will be adding some appeal to the Ford display.

If you’re finally ready to trade in your ’83 Accord, you’re curious to see what new technology will be coming to the cockpits of the 2014 models, or even if you contend that cars aren’t necessarily the mode of transport of the future, I’d be willing to bet the $12 ticket is worth the price of admission. Additional ticket information can be found on the event’s website.

If you are planning to attend, here’s a preview of what to expect.

Ride & Drive: I once met a seasoned car salesman who put it best: “The feel of the wheel seals the deal.” You can drool over shiny cars rotating in place till the oil dries up, or you can take advantage of the Ride & Drive offers from many of the carmakers on site, including Toyota, Cadillac, Ford, Scion and Kia. Seriously, hop behind the wheel of the new 2013 Scion FR-S, take it for a couple laps around the Convention Center and tell me it wasn’t worth it.

Green Tech: I’ve written a lot about the Tesla Model S and electric cars recently, but that’s just the tip of the spark plug. On display at the auto show will be a host of hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as engines featuring gasoline alternatives running the gamut from ethanol to natural gas, propane to biodiesel.

The Latest & Greatest: Here you will see the newest models of the most desirable cars long before they’re skirting around city streets near you. Nearly every car is unlocked and open for enjoyment, so feel free to plunk yourself inside that $100,000+ Mercedes G Wagon just to see how it feels. It will feel good, I promise. On a far more practical note, though, this is a great time to compare models you’ve been eyeing or ask the experts questions before you buy. The cars are not for sale, but you can ask a million questions without being strong-armed into writing a check.

Also, auto shows always showcase some incredible concept cars, which are basically an excuse for automakers to flex their creative (and often outlandish) design muscles without the promise of actually delivering. Either way, they’re typically show-stoppers, and if the concepts being unveiled at the lauded Detroit Auto Show as we speak are any indication, Boston is in for quite a treat.

Head here for a list of frequently asked questions about the event, including where to park, show hours and ticket prices, even the location of the nearest electric vehicle charging station. Here’s a rundown of the days and times the show will be open to the public:

Thursday, January 17: 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Friday, January 18: 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Saturday, January 19: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Sunday, January 20: 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Monday, January 21: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Take a look at some of the cars that will be at this year’s Boston Auto Show.