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2015 Chicago Auto Show: The Hoon’s gallery

Eric Rood February 16, 2015 Car Shows, Chicago Auto Show, Featured 9 Comments

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The Hooniverse contingent descended upon the 2015 Chicago Auto Show’s press days last week like so many politicians to a brothel. Greg Kachadurian attended the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo’s release party and Jeff added another video about the same car because it is certifiably nuts. I even interviewed one of the GT-R LM’s drivers and the program’s director, so to speak, which will be forthcoming soon.

However, it turns out there was more at the show besides Nissan’s forthcoming LMP1 car (and the gorgeous Alfa Romeos and whiskey) so follow the jump for a couple of the show’s highlights.

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I’ve stared a photos of the new Ford GT for what seems like days, but the sleek silver example Ford brought to Chicago reveals some of the aerodynamic eccentricities better than the electric blue it wore at Detroit’s auto show. And while photos abound of the car—including those higher-quality ones that Greg posted here Friday—it really must be seen in person to appreciate it as a whole.

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More than anything, the rear view of the car is so incredibly striking with what Ford’s representatives called a “fuselage” attached to a pair of rear “pontoon fenders” via flying buttresses. Racecar builder Multimatic will build these into racecars for IMSA’s Tudor United SportsCar Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 2016. I’m eager to see how the unique aero design translates to performance in the GTLM and GTE classes.

 

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Speaking of GTs, Mercedes brought their own with the new 2016 AMG GT. It’s a perfectly sleek grand tourer with perfect lines from a rear view. Oh, and it has an insane biturbo 4.0-liter V8.

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The front is all modern Merc design language: I feel like Mercedes’ marketing department must have worked with the meanginless phrase “aggressively dignified” while penning the corporate looks.

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Circular mesh grille is circular mesh.

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Not far away, BMW had on display the usual dizzying array of 1s and 2s and 3s and Ms that I’m reasonably ceratin are all quite good at what they do. I have a hard time parsing their nomenclature so I gravitate toward the unique things in the Bimmer booth.

Last year, I didn’t much fancy the i8, but it’s grown on me some. One thing did bother me about this one on display: Most of the car’s underside had a flat bottom for smooth airflow, but the gap in the “fuselage” that channels air around the car’s side and then inside rear tire led to a strangely rough-looking rear of the car. I’m obviously being picky, but with all the attention paid to providing a clean aero design, I found that quite strange.

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The rear half’s angles look intensely futuristic, but if you squint, it also looks like an angry-eyebrowed transformer frog, which I suppose is intensely futuristic in its own way.

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Hey look, it’s a topless Chevy Corvette Z06. Nothing to add; just look at this thing.

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The Chevy Colorado ZR2 Concept stood out at the Chevy booth (out in front of where they’d hid the poor SS) and not just because they put it by the walkway  near Infinit’s Red Bull F1 car. Last year, the pre-production Z71 Colorado was a promising concept and the ZR2 throws in the 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine with a wider body, King off-road shocks, and big-ass-American-truck-yeah styling.

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Last year, Lexus made a splash with the RC F, a BMW competitor with a distinctly American 5.0-liter V8. I sat in an RC F and reached for the pull handle to adjust the seat, for which Hooniverse Executive Editor Jeff Glucker mocked me relentlessly.

Anyway, this year, Lexus have added to their “F” portfolio with the GS F. Like the RC, the GS F gets the burly 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 467 horsepower and it also gets the massive, divisive vertical-mouth shark corporate grille in front of the sedan. The looks don’t really do it for me, but what’s not to like about a company throwing their performance weight behind five monstrous liters of engine?

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Almost all of the Lexus booth featured white cars, nicely polished to look like a dignified affair, aside from the brand-new GS F and this slammed-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life RC 350. I’m not sure I’ll ever completely understand show cars like this.

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While Lexus was all white with its cars, Buick employed a vast array of non-descript vehicles in the worst 50 Shades of Grey tribute ever, which lacked entirely in sexiness or deviation.

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Yep, the Dodge Viper SRT still looks great.

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The big trio of the SRT lineup (Viper, Challenger Hellcat, and Charger Hellcat) were all displayed in blood-on-the-asphalt red…

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…except this Viper with a paint scheme that went from purple to pink to yellow to green across its width for reasons only known to the Mopar folks.

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The MAXIMUM ATTACK Scion FR-S is what you get when renowned racecar livery (and recently bodywork) designer Andy Blackmore gets a blank slate with which to work. You can read the full build description on Speedhunters here, but Blackmore really nailed the design using elements from a number of classic racecars.

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The FR-S wears the classic Toyota stripes beautifully and the vented hood is just one of hundreds of incredible tiny details on the car.

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Under the hood, the supercharger adds a bit of oomph and the stripped-and-caged interior points toward this being a track-ready toy. No wonder it won this year’s Scion Tuner Challenge.

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Thierry Neuville has made quite a name for himself in the past year in the World Rally Championship driving the Hyundai I20 WRC. First, he had to fill his radiator with Corona at Rally Mexico when he lost all coolant on the final transit stage. Next, he rolled his Hyundai during Rally Germany’s shakedown stage only to come back and beat Volkswagen at their home rally—the only rally VW didn’t win in 2014.

Last weekend, he launched over the record of Colin’s Crest in Rally Sweden with a 44-meter jump. Neuville is a star in the making, but it’s a statement on the sad state of rally that his magnificent Hyundai rally car shoved into the booth’s back corner.

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The new Dallara IL15 Indy Lights chassis has been everywhere and with a heavily subscribed series in 2015, this could be a much-needed boost to the sagging IndyCar ladder system. As the AER-designed turbocharged 2.0-liter engine was recently badged by Mazda, this was parked in the Mazda display.

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Nearby sat the 2016 Miata. Hooniverse published the stats on the car earlier and, well, it’s a Miata. You can deride whatever part of it you want; it will be a fun car.

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Mazdaspeed will almost certainly have lowering kits available for the roadster so I’d expect to see tuned Miatas sprinting around autocrosses the second they’re available.

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Never shy about motorsports heritage, Mazda also displayed an example of their Global MX-5 Cup. Mazda will sell the turnkey racecars, which will compete in a number of regional MX-5 Cup series, likely including the Playboy MX-5 Cup here in the U.S.

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It looks a proper racecar on the inside, though the company is not yet sure on what the options and standard equipment will be on the Global Cup car.

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The Illinois State Police had a vintage Dodge Monaco patrol car on display.

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It’s got a cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It’s a model made before catalytic converters so it runs good on regular gas.

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As Greg wrote in the Friday news, Nismo previewed a 370Z convertible concept, which was mildly exciting. Nissan already had a Nismo GT-R and Nismo 370Z (hardtop) on display and next to that was the Nismo Sentra concept, too. It looked great from the outside, though the interior was still entirely Sentra.

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I know it’s already been covered ad nauseum here (and with two more interviews to come!), but here are three gratuitous photos of the Nissan GT-R LM Nismo from its official launch Thursday morning.

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The little sub-structure in the nose holds the tow hook, by the way.

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From the driver position, the hood-mounted exhaust is actually out of the direct line of sight, but at night, they may be bright enough to blind the driver for a moment. Nissan are working on that.

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Of course, Porsche runs its own hybrid LMP1 car and, to boot, they sell their own insane hybrid road car, the 918 Spyder. Like the Ford GT, this one must be seen in person to appreciate the completeness of its design and how it all works together seamlessly.

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In addition to some high-end whiskey, Infiniti had on display a Red Bull Formula 1 car.

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I knew looking at it that it was not a remotely new car and I’m reasonably sure this is one of the Red Bull RB7s, which won the 2011 championship.

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This is one of Adrian Newey’s massive successes and one can get dizzy looking at all of the incredible aerodynamic bits and how they snag or channel air.

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Subaru has brought two staple cars to the Chicago Auto Show, which is great because most of the rest of their lineup has grown painfully bland. Mark Higgins’ Isle of Man-record-breaking WRX is always a crowd pleaser and the local Itasca Police Department usually have their wrapped WRX on display nearby.

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Maybe it was knowing that Nissan was going to garner lots of attention or maybe they’re just turning the corner toward competing in more motorsports, but Toyota really brought a nice collection of interesting cars. Of course, you had to walk through their otherwise-forgettable lineup to reach them, but here’s what was in Toyota’s lineup.

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Toyota’s supremely beautiful 1960s sportscar, the 2000GT, recently started pulling seven figures on the auction floors and they brought an absolutely stunner to Chicago’s auto show. The flawless white highlights the seductive curves of the fender flares, accentuated by the famed fender mirrors.

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From the back, the neat lines run the car’s length and terminate perfectly at the back. It’s no wonder these tiny little coupes draw so much attention at auction.

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Near the 2000GT sat its polar opposite: a Toyota-powered Eagle Mark III from IMSA’s old GTP series. This was every bit a purpose built racecar and while this one curiously has mismatched numbers on it, the Eagle-Toyotas were no mistake. In the early 1990s, these cars absolutely steamrolled their GTP competitors, winning more than 75 percent of the series’ races.

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Under the rear bodywork lurked a turbocharged Toyota four-cylinder engine that put out more than 800 horsepower. The two-element wing could produce incredible downforce, meaning lots of ease in getting the power down out of corners.

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To complete the classic Toyota trifecta, this old FJ Land Cruiser looked the business. The upholstery on the seats looked refurbished, but otherwise, this was an amazing counterpoint to the 2000GT and Eagle.

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Yeah, we’ll let Toyota have the last say with their FT-1 concept. This car was on display last year in bright red, but I have to say that—again, like the Ford GT—the silver lets you appreciate the curves a bit more. The hood also features a plexiglass panel to display the engine, although it was at the auto show mostly a generic plastic engine cover. Should this car ever go into production, I’d hope to see something more exciting under the plexiglass.

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That seems like a logical place to stop, having seen what we hope to be the future of sports cars.

Did you go to the Chicago Auto Show? See anything you liked? Didn’t like? Give it a shout in the comments.

 

[All photos copyright 2015 Hooniverse/Eric Rood]

  • nanoop

    Thanks for this – definitely not the press folder in many respects!

    On the I8 (yes, it's 'ipod' to me) aero of the rear: I think of it as kind of two vertical diffusors. This trick was fancy in the 70ies and 80ies on touring cars, but for some obscure reasons they stopped doing it 25 years ago.

    Somebody said here the I8 is looking like something giving birth to a 911 – here's a 944 giving birth to a 924, kind of:
    <img src=http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3578/3668459065_b89a5837aa.jpg" width="400">
    The differences are of course where the running gear/brakes do and don't need air cooling, and the recent tendency for road cars not to be a slippery outer shell with holes where it seemed fit (70ies style), but a complex funneling/tunneling system without actual ducts.
    But what do I know, I didn't build that thing, and never bothered to read about it.

    • Eric Rood

      Well stated. It seems that if they're going to the trouble to put a flat bottom under the cabin, though, that they'd want clean airflow everywhere underneath the car and having flow through to where it does would induce unwanted turbulence underneath the car.

      But as you said, I didn't built the thing so what do I know? I guess turbulence under the car is preferable to turbulence (and resulting drag) at the rear wheel well and/or back of the car where there's already a low-pressure area (and more drag). Supposedly, the i8's drag coefficient is 0.26, so it's at least as efficient as a Prius in that regard.

      • nanoop

        I, in my own world, think they make the cabin/engine "blob" in the shape of a half droplet. Then they add wheels, and use the area between blob and wheels to design the air flow as needed: reduce pressure under the car (horizontal diffusor), stabilize the rear (vertical diffusor), cooling of whatever needs cooling (I'm always amazed where racing cars have their radiators – and how many of them) etc.
        Did I mention I have an education in optics? So if any grown-up wants to chime in…

    • Metric Wrench

      Do these pants make my butt look big?

  • Sjalabais

    While I feel totally disconnected and therefore a bit uninterested in the supercar market as a whole, I just love how it seems to evolve in pretty different directions, thus creating marvel and interest anyway. Ford's GT is already a masterpiece, and a marketing strike of epic (sorry, but it is) dimensions. Mercedes speaks its own language, Porsche will do so forever, Corvette, Viper and i8 are conservative remakes of existing designs, but they are true to themselves. I have to admit, I even like the paint scheme on the Viper – it just fits. I also have tremendous respect for what Chrysler is doing. A sign of healthy pride in American car building!

  • Devin

    Here's something I've been curious about, why doesn't Renault badge the engines on Infiniti-Red Bull cars as Infiniti engines? They're part of the same corporate thingy as Infiniti, and right now it's really weird that Red Bull is sponsored by Infiniti but not even pretending they're powered by Infiniti.

    • Eric Rood

      I've always been confused by the Infiniti branding on the RBR cars.

      • BradleyBrownell

        It's because Renault isn't even remotely connected to the RBR cars, and there's something weird that goes on if you change the name of your powerplant in the middle of a season, or from one season to the next, regarding your prize money.

        There was a reason that Sauber was called "BMW Sauber Ferrari" for a season. It's something to do with not being eligible for an entry the following year, and not allowing you to receive your prize money for the current year.

        Because Infiniti is just a title sponsor, they can call the team "Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault" and continue to use their existing entry without applying for a new one.

        F1 is weird.

        • Eric Rood

          Makes perfect sense in some part of the multiverse, one of me supposes.