The inaugural event brought in 65 “horseless carriages” to the Coliseum. It even had indoor track space where vehicles could be driven. That was so the common folk could get over their fears of these metal beasts. Entry fees were a pricy 50 cents. Two decades later, visitors saw many changes in design, including Dodge’s latest models that included a heater. The 1941 show was the last until 1950, as the event took a break. That was due to automakers turning their attention to WWII while producing military vehicles, including tanks.
The 1960s introduced another exciting era, beginning with imports such as Toyota while it would be the last for the poorly-received DeSoto. This was also the “performance” decade with the Mustang’s debut and a new line of turbo-charged cars. Jump ahead ten years and visitors got a big dose of compacts including the Pacer and Gremlin (yeah, I won’t go there right now). It was during the ‘70s that cars began to lose their personality as well. Automakers began concentrating on streamlining, safety, and a whole bunch of other features that car fanatics strongly opposed. Oh, well.
A few more years, and trucks would continue their ride up the ladder of upscale popularity. Along with the Hemis and Cummins turbo diesel options, there’s still plenty of room for fuel-conserving compacts, of course.
This year, you’ll see it all, whether you want to drool at the high end or are serious about making a change in the coming months. One advantage at this show - if you’re in the market for a new make and model, you’ll actually be able to sit inside many on display. For those who aren’t brand diehards, this is an excellent opportunity to really shop around.
Dates for the Chicago Auto Show are: February 10-19
Entry fees are $11/adults; $7 for children ages 7-12/ $7 for seniors