LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, start your engines and get set for this year’s Chicago Auto Show, now showing at McCormick Place. It’s the nation’s largest annual automotive exhibition, showcasing the latest concepts and models of the global automotive industry right here in Chicago.
With everything from sporty little cruisers to all-terrain trucks, long-time host, Chicago McCormick Place, has its floors filled with hundreds of new models from across the industry. This year’s exhibition is also showing off some old gems, including a 1971 Mustang Mach 1 and 1963 Superformance Grand Sport Corvette, paying homage to some classic car-world greats whose DNAs are lined in their modern counterparts.
All these cars shine across the showroom floors in a spectrum of red, silver, and blue, dazzling viewers with everything from beefy trucks to sporty little cruisers. Along with access to infographics, on-site lectures, design plans, and one-on-one convo with brand representatives, attendees can take a seat in the cars themselves, getting a first-hand look at the latest in automotive technology. There are automobiles for every walk (or ride) of life, utilized for sport, leisure, work, family, disability, and modern living. Mom and dad can experiment with ergonomic new car functions while the kids head over to the Lego® table at Chevrolet and build their very own Batmobile (let’s be honest, the adults enjoy this too). There’s even a life-sized Lego® Batmobile on display, inspired by Chevrolet’s Speedwagon featured in the new The LEGO® Batman Movie. At Nissan, some Star Wars storm troopers even make a special appearance. Their uniforms are played into the design and concept of the 2017 Nissan Rogue, a limited edition car marking the first ever production vehicle with Star Wars branding.
With everything going on, navigating the show is like walking through a life-sized Hot Wheels® set. Buzzing around the floor models are various drive tracks demonstrating car performance. There are also diorama displays showcasing cars in their intended environments. The 2017 Ram Heavy Duty, for example, is displayed rolling over a high pile of rock-like formations.
At the show, there are production cars now available on the market, as well as debut models and concept car introductions. A popular production car featured this year is the 2017 Jeep Wrangler, equipped with four-wheel drive and navigation system optioning for off-road adventure. Making its debut at the show is the luxury 2018 Genesis G80 with a sport trim and special safety features such as pedestrian detection. One of the featured concept vehicles (which has shown previously at the Auto Show and was brought back by popular request) is the futuristic Toyota FV2, which instead of a being driven with a steering wheel, is controlled by the driver’s shifting body weight.
There’s a lot that goes into making this exhibition as grand as it is, and a lot that comes out of it as a result. Every year the Chicago Auto Show also hosts a First Look for Charity Benefit before the show is unveiled to the public, raising money for Chicago-based charities such as Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago and Illinois Special Olympics. Around 2.5 million dollars has been raised each year through auctions and ticket sales in support of such organizations.
The Chicago Auto Show is a showcasing of automotive innovation, but, first and foremost, it celebrates the incredibility of automotive design and its relevance today. The cars and trucks of the exhibition are not only functional and up-to-speed with the times, but thoughtfully engineered to be a part of our lives. They are crafted by teams of designers and makers with form, function, and the people who drive them in mind.
All photos by Stephanie Lenchard Warren