It’s that time of year again – The Chicago Auto Show rolls into McCormick Place, filling the convention center with the latest and greatest rolling examples of style and engineering the automotive industry has to offer.
This year seems to be a particularly strong year for the auto manufacturers. It’s no secret that the industry is still recovering from a tough few years. A reeling economy and a couple bankruptcies later, there is a new lease on life on the show floor. The atmosphere was universally optimistic – domestic manufacturers are rolling out new products set to compete on a global scale while up-and-comers like Hyundai is going full steam ahead with the expansion of their increasingly popular line of cars and crossovers (I’m personally smitten with the new Elantra GT that was unveiled last Wednesday).
It’s easy to get caught up in the spectacle that is the Chicago Auto Show. After all, almost 1,000 vehicles cover 1.2 million square feet of McCormick Place during the ten day event. There are numerous new product reveals, all the technology demos you could wish for, and plenty of drool-inducing concept cars. But as the auto industry moves forward, and the playing field continues to level out, the differences between brands become ever slimmer. The details that designers and engineers alike implement into each vehicle become increasingly important.
As a lover of all things with headlights and four wheels, I always enjoy the annual auto show, but this year I tried to take a slightly different approach to the experience.
Instead of taking the show in broad strokes – I took moments to sit down in front of several cars and just soak in the details. We spend our days surrounded by these machines that have so much life and personality and reduce them down to simple appliances.
We miss things like the way that the lines of the body gaps take your eyes through the side of the car, creating a rhythm and harmony. Or how about the ever increasing intricacies of headlights as both style and technology collide and move forward. Or the way that the lines of a grill create a cohesive face for the vehicle. Or the way the different materials and textures combine in some of the most beautiful interiors I’ve seen. And it never ceases to amaze me how engineers are consistently able to pull more power and efficiency out of engines (much new engine tech on display, by the way).
The auto show is a rare opportunity to experience automobiles on a micro level (and I’m not talking about Micro Machines, here). The Chicago Auto Show allows you to get up close and personal with almost any current car your heart could desire. So I recommend that in between your Toyota or Dodge driving experiences, you take the time to slow down and soak in the details that go into each and every automobile on the show floor.
The Chicago Auto Show runs through this Sunday (the 19th) and is only $11 for adults. Have you been to the show this year? Do you have a favorite auto or adventure?