It’s the middle of February, and that means it’s time for the Chicago Auto Show. I’m back from my visit, and though I haven’t had time to download and sort through the pictures from the big camera, the phone camera was there too, ready to illustrate a few early impressions and notes.
You’ve heard of infographics– that’s the modern word for what we used to call charts and graphs, information presented in pictorial or semi-pictorial form. If you have a big graph about your big van sales, then what better place to display it than on the side of a big van?
The new “tougher” special model in the VW Beetle range is called the Dune series. The VW Beetle Dune will come in three colors, black, white, and this color, which is unique to the series. “Sandstorm Yellow” may suggest sand dunes, but it is also the exact color of a jar of Dijon mustard if you leave the top off too long and let it dry out. (Oddly enough, the phone camera is the only camera I had with me that rendered this color more or less correctly in the light available.)
Auto show swag, the little free gifts and promotional items given away at the various booths, has been on the decline for years. In the past you used to come home with a free swag bag full of stickers, keychains, pens, pencils, magnets, postcards and other delightful ephemera, as well as the occasional music CD, video game or toy car. The last economic decline seemed to pretty much shut down the swag machine.(Scion, now on its way out entirely, was the last exception.) Nowadays a decent swag bag for your brochures is about all you can expect. But I visited on Women’s Day, when Ford was passing out these bandanna handkerchiefs to the women and girls in the crowd, (and at least some of the men and boys, to judge by who was wearing them). I put mine on my hat. It is very hard to take a picture of your own hat with a phone camera. (I often wear my red crusher when I’m out in crowd, since I have a tendency to wander off.)
What would the Auto Show be without concept cars? These are styling exercises designed to test audience reactions to new aesthetic and technical ideas. Plus they are good for showing off. Hyundai is spinning off its luxury Genesis line into a separate division, and celebrated this event by showing this enormous and really very gorgeous Genesis concept coupe. It is called the Vision G, or as I seem to be calling it in my file names, the Visiong. Cool name for a car, that.
Those who think that they see a distinct resemblance to a long list of elegant Bentleys are perhaps paying too close attention. Dramatic lightning is a requirement.
Manufacturers compete to decorate their displays with elements that reflect the qualities of their cars and trucks. This, apparently, is the Lexus of light fixtures.
Finally, here’s an early reveal of the Winner of the Auto Show–it’s FCA’s Fiat division, with the gorgeous new Fiat 124 Spider roadster. It shares a platform with the newest version of Mazda’s classic modern roadster, the MX-5 Miata, but it is somewhat different, being a full five and a half inches longer and equipped with the 2.0 liter turbo four from the 500 Abarth so it is a bit more powerful. And I think it looks better too. The front end, with the mesh grille, is dynamite, and the rear is really handsome. The molding on the hood is a bit funky, though. Still, it’s going to be delightful to see these charming little Italo-Japanese sports cars running around when the warm weather comes.
More from the Auto Show coming soon: flower arrangements, arty photographs, weird colors, more Italian cars, other people’s camera gear, and a poem from the Hulk about a famous American brand.