Grilles Are Aglow at 2018 Chicago Auto Show

This year's Auto Show rolls into its annual Chicago digs at McCormick Place -- from sports cars to SUVs, the event is chocked with nearly 1,000 cars on display, boasting innovations, debuting concept models, showcasing a few old glories, and allowing guests to check it all out first-hand. The Chicago Auto Show brings together car enthusiasts and practical drivers to celebrate the diverse function and design of the automotive industry. Looking to pump out some adrenaline on the racetrack? Slide into the cockpit of the Porsche 911. Want to get outfitted for some off-road adventures? Gear up in the 2018 Jeep Wrangler. Searching for a safe ride to tote around the fam? The 2018 Toyota Sequoia SUV may just suit your needs. The beauty of  modern auto design is that there are countless options. Every model is made to serve a unique and specific purpose -- and has its own unique style to represent it. Toyota's amped-up 2018 Tacoma The face of a car can be seen, literally on its face. Most vehicles (at least those on the market) have a grille at the front of the car body, acting as the "mouth" of the car. While the grille serves a practical function in allowing air into and protecting the radiator and engine, it also acts as an ornamental feature, and car designers have been using it as an outfit for self-expression since Model A hit the assembly line.  Much like our own mouths (to which we've applied the same term in describing our pearly whites), grilles can don all sorts of expressions. Like any form of expression, manner reflects the purpose. A grille that's hearty and tough looking, like the grille on Toyota's  2018 Tacoma truck, suits a vehicle made for some major terrain face-offs.  This baby's grille is bold and bricky, reflecting treads ready to tear up some turf. On the other end of the spectrum, the crisp zags composing the grille of the Lexus LC reflect a high-tech luxury car. With a modern infotainment system, hybrid technology options, and leather seats, it's not only got the works, but the chops to show it. The Lexus LC Take a ride back in time, and you'll see the same power of the grille shine through in the 1963 Lingenfelter Superformance Corvette, you'll see sharp angles and a skinny grille, evoking a sense of direction, intention, and speed for a car made to just GO (and certainly not without style). 1963 Lingenfelter Superformance Corvette Being the face of the car, grilles tend to display the face of the company or model. Ford Mustang is instantly, if not famously, recognized by its signature pony logo that runs atop its grille track. 1973 Ford Mustang Some grilles get ultra-customized to suit a specific car -- like the Auto Show's Chicago Blackhawks-themed 2018 Camaro (which you can enter to win here). This sporty player beams city pride with a Chicago skyline running along its grille's horizon. Custom Chicago Blackhawks 2018 Camaro No matter where you look on the show floor, you'll be looked at right back by the faces of the very cars you come to see. Whether it's in a curvy smile or a sharp smirk, you're bound to find something that suits your style -- and it may just light up your own grille. The 2018 Chicago Auto Show runs February 10-19 at McCormick Place (2301 S. Lake Shore Drive). Tickets are $13 for adults, $7 for seniors (65+), $7 for children 7-12, and free for children 0-6. For more information, including a catalog of featured cars, visit the Chicago Auto Show website.
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Stephanie Lenchard Warren

Stephanie Lenchard Warren is a visual artist and nonfiction writer. Her work explores finding ourselves in nature as well as the nature in ourselves.