We’ve looked at a couple new production vehicles and a batch of exciting cars that do all sorts of “race” things, but I can’t forget the other show stoppers seen on the floor at Chicago this year. From multi-million dollar classics to a Hyundai with massive exhaust pipes, here are a couple of my other favorites.
Being a fan of die-cast cars (that’s a given when you’re also the Assistant Editor at Scale Auto Magazine), Chevrolet showed us a traffic cone orange Camaro, dressed to celebrate Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary. Nearby, the new 2019 Corvette ZR1, with all its supercharged 755 horsepower, was too in the windy city in drop-top form. I also saw GM’s Raptor-fighting experiment, the new Silverado Trail Boss, which while looking confidently ready to humiliate any terrain off-pavement, desperately needs an interior refresh.
Strolling over to Hyundai and Kia, two modified Stinger GTs, the car I shamelessly nominated for Hooniverse’s “Car of the Year” because it’s that good, caught my eye instantly. A blue Stinger GT got the full-treatment from West Coast Customs, with blue-tinted carbon fiber ground effects, deep-dish wheels and wide-body fenders front and aft. It’s great to see the tuner market begin to go crazy with Kia’s new sport sedan. Keep it coming, please.
Hot hatches rule, and I finally saw new Veloster N that I’ve been anticipating, up-close. The outgoing Veloster was a funky and aging car, but I always had a soft spot for the Turbo model, which was fun to drive. At Detroit this year, Hyundai gave us a peak at their refreshed Veloster and it seems fantastic. Cleaner, not as awkward looking, and the mentioned N model gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 275 horsepower by way of a tight, six-speed manual, active sport exhaust, upgraded brakes and tuned suspension. It all reads so good, seat time will tell. You can’t help but drool over the almost Gulf-inspired iconic paint scheme, which makes its way into the interior. Guess what? Like one would see on a pricey Porsche, the Veloster N gives you body-colored seat belts and buttons on the steering wheel for its adjustable driving modes (!). Volkswagen’s GTI is a tremendous, proven, giggle-inducing joyful car to wring around, but this super sporty hatch from the Korean underdog might make the German a tad nervous. Two-thumbs up from me, Hyundai.
Infiniti had an undeniably sexy concept car on display called the Q Inspiration, and it was jaw-dropping. Powered by their new VC-Turbo engine found in the current production QX50, a mix of variable compression witchcraft and high tech bits combine to provide hybrid-esque fuel economy numbers, minus the actual need for batteries. I dream of this this one day, definitely being Infiniti’s future flagship car. I hope that fantasy transforms into a reality.
Gearheads from the Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage and Classic Car Club of America brought out four prized models form their collections. In its raw original form, there’s a grand 1932 Stutz DV32, one of 200 made. At $5,390 new with a body built by LeBaron, a 156-horsepower straight-eight powered this 4,538lb four-door convertible. The best detail? The metal, caged fan bolted onto the steering column for “air conditioning.” Be careful making that three-point turn, sir or madame.
Next to it was a pristine 1930 Cadillac Series 353, another convertible sedan, with an aluminum body crafted by Parisian coach builder Georges Kellner et Fils. Owned by famous banker Baron Rothschild (what a name, eh?) in France, this car was eventually exported to the United States in 1969 for restoration. When its three-position top folds back, the doors’ window frames actually collapse downwards, flush with the inside door panels to create a clean, true drop-top shape. With a 154-inch wheelbase and curb weight of 6,000 pounds, its 95-horsepower V8 surprisingly made 224 lbs-feet of torque at just 1,000 rpm. Engineers even lined the car’s air intake with felt, to reduce noise.
Notice the right-hand-drive? This stunning 1938 Buick 44 Special Drop-Head, was shipped off to London for use by the Singer family (as in the sewing machine). After a re-bodying by the Lancefield Company, the Buick was boated back to the family’s ranch in sunny Texas, where it sat for 25 years behind closed doors in storage before seeing light again. This is a prime example of how an automobile can also be an intricate work of art.
Perfectly coordinated with the snowstorm that started to bury Chicago after the first media day, Nissan had three models decked out for blizzard duty. A new Titan XD wearing a Boss snowplow and salter hanging off the bed area, the full-size Armada lifted with LED light bars up above, a front winch, knobby tires and a winter paint scheme all around with “Snow Patrol,” decals on either front door. See what they did there? My favorite was the 370Z convertible eagerly trying to be a snowmobile, with its front skis and rear cat tracks. Please sell this, Nissan, I feel as it would do very well in my home state of Wisconsin.
The most adorable car at the auto show this year? In celebration of their 50th year of selling vehicles in the United States, Subaru brought a 1968 360, the brand’s first production vehicle and first vehicle sold here in America. The cute Subie sits on a 70.9-inch wheelbase, is 53-in tall and its two-stroke, two-cylinder engine screeched out a 69mph top speed. For 2018, there’s an available 50th Anniversary trimming for every product in Subaru’s lineup (minus the new three-row Ascent SUV). The optional package paints each model in a unique Heritage Blue hue and dices-up the interior with commemorative logos and other glams. I’d expect the higher-end WRX STIs and BRZs carrying this special tributary package, to command sky high value at collector auctions in another fifty years.
Toyota won the nostalgia game with an ultra-rad trophy truck driven by legend Baja blaster Ivan “Ironman” Stewart. I remember playing on my old Gameboy “Super Off Road,” and always choosing the Toyota because well, when you’re a youth, it looked the fastest. Good news! At this years’s auto show, Toyota brought the actual “Ivan ‘Ironman’ Stewart’s Super Off Road” arcade game you can play for free with two other competitors.
The 2018 Chicago Auto Show is now open to the public until this Sunday, February 19. Go enjoy it and let us know what catches your eye.
[All images copyright Robby DeGraff/Hooniverse 2018]