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Chicago Auto Show [UPDATES]
Posted by: Jon Henke on Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I'm in Chicago today with a client and a few bloggers for the Chicago Auto Show. I'll be blogging periodically from my Blackberry, so I probably won't be uploading pictures today, but I'll try to get those up soon. In the next few days, I anticipate some cool footage and photos from other bloggers of the new cars being shown here - including the new Dodge Challenger. Which is, frankly, awesome.

I have warned people here that I'm bringing an oversize coat, on the chance that I'll be able to smuggle out a Viper. However, in light of some of the other cars being show here....I think I'm going to need a bigger coat.

More soon, including some links to pictures.

Note: here's the Auto Show website. Lots of pictures to be found there. Cool.

UPDATE:. Details and pictures for the Dodge Challenger are available here. It's a real throwback - all about classic lines and horsepower. There is also a Dodge Challenger blog.

Here's the post announcing the Challenger debut, and disclosing the Dodge Challenger's specs.

Heading to the Mazda section to see if they have an RX-8, and then to the Audi section to check out the R8, which I'm told is remarkable. NOTE: it is...

UPDATE: in the comments,MarkM suggests I take a look at the Vette, which is a "Viper chewer upper." I'm not taking sides (I'm holding out for one of each), but I will say that the GM exec this morning said the new Corvette could top 200 mph and was the fastest car GM had ever produced for the public.

Here are the specs I was just given for the new Vette lines:
Corvette Coupe tops at 186 mph
Z06 198 mpg
ZR1 over 200 mph

The ZR1 is the fastest production vehicle GM has ever built.
Naturally, they do not encourage you to try that at home. But it might be nice to have a bumper sticker that says "my other car can do 200 MPH".

UPDATE: Iowahawk is here now, and we're over at the Jeep display. Jeep didn't just bring their autos....they brought a whole indoor Jeep course, complete with mulch for off-road feel, sections with uneven terrain and multiple steep inclines to test the handling. It's a popular section. Now, if they'd let me use the Jeep Course to test drive the Challenger...


Ok, I'm back from the show. Lots of interesting pictures to post or link, as I get them. One of my highlights requires a bit of backstoy: My wife and I made a deal last year. Her priority was getting something practical, like a minivan. My priority was getting anything but a minivan. I agreed to get the Chrysler Pacifica she decided she really wanted (and which we both like a great deal), and she agreed that I could get the car I really wanted: the Mazda RX-8. It's a sports car....but it has four seats, so it's not unreasonable for a guy with two kids! I haven't gotten it yet. But I can. And seeing/sitting in one today brought me that much closer.

Iowahawk has written that the RX8 is "a hit with bloggerati auto-motorists everywhere" - "that rare breed of automobile that causes you to roll down the window, giddily thrust your head out and proclaim, "whee! I am driving jauntily with my head out of the window."" So, if I get an RX8, do I get to race Instapundit?

I think I could take him.


Here are some links to other blogger coverage:

Shop Floor's Carter Woods posts a picture of the Challenger unveiling and points out that there are also quite a lot of fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles being produced, as well. But whether Congress approves or not, people do want a Challenger now and then...
...this show, like others, places a big premium on fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility.

Thing is, auto companies, like everybody else, have to make products that people want to buy — vehicles that meet people's needs. In Washington, members of Congress and their staffs can eschew that responsibility, even though they are through their policymaking effectively designing cars. So their dictates lead to vehicles no one wants.

Would be a good thing for some Inside the Beltway folks to meet a Challenger buyer. Or, heck, drive one themselves.
The Weekly Standard's Brian Faughnan has some pictures and points...

  1. On the difficulty of meeting Congressional mandates and consumer demands...
    [Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America] says that when it comes to cars, the American people vote with their dollars. He says that GM (and all other automakers) must make cars that people want to buy — not the ones that they'd like to sell. The automakers can't just mass produce the most fuel-efficient car in the market and force them on consumers (which seems to be what many in Washington would like). Rather, they need to respond to challenges like energy security and global warming while giving drivers what they want.

    Clarke relates the tale of a focus group in Los Angeles in which the participants expressed a strong desire for a 'green vehicle.' When the facilitators teased out what they wanted more precisely, the general consensus was for a Chevy Tahoe that gets 45 miles to the gallon.

  2. On the cruelty of CAFE standards...
    Come 2020, new fuel economy standards will require automakers to sell a fleet that meets a sales-weighted standard of 35 miles per gallon. So for every one car sold that gets 22 MPG, they better sell multiple cars that get 37 or 38. Ultimately, the best way for the manufacturers to do that is to raise the price of that 22 mpg car to make sure only a few can afford it. Maybe the profits from that Dodge Challenger will subsidize the sale of the latest hybrid. Or maybe Detroit will just bank the higher profit.

  3. On the "beauties" of the car show...well, he has a photo. You can also see a Toyota Prius in the picture.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I think I’m going to need a bigger coat.
That was terrible, Jon.

Looking forward to the pics. Have fun!
Written By: J Sterlace
URL: http://
Jon, you don’t need a bigger coat, just a long-sleeved white dress shirt and a red vest. Take the Viper and whatever other vehicles catch your eye to the "valet parking lot".
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
Huh, I don’t recall your reports from the Detroit Auto Show. Oh, and what about the Camero?...or Z06 Vette????...c’mon Jon.

PS...that Vette is a Viper chewer upper.
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Jon, I hope you’re enjoying our fine Chicago weather.

/breaks out of ice
Written By: the wolf
URL: http://
The Challenger... how can I describe... that sound that Homer makes when he contemplates donuts
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Cap - For once you and I are in agreement! Doh!
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Yeah, the Challenger takes me back. Had a 71 Convertible that I sold, because at the time, I didn’t have the finances to restore it.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Did they add anything to the Challenger that will help it drive through bulldozers? I remember it had that weakness, back in the day.
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
That was a nice, though very nihilistic, movie...
Written By: Keith_Indy
Hmmm, wonder how they’ll remake the movie for 09
Written By: Keith_Indy
"Did they add anything to the Challenger that will help it drive through bulldozers?"

Was it’s demise a bulldozer or a train??...I thought it was a train??...or are you not talking about the movie.
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Hmmm, wonder how they’ll remake the movie for 09
Probably as badly as they remade it with Viggo Mortenson in in 1997.

They don’t seem to be able resist the temptation to give Kowalski a reason to be doing what he’s doing, and isn’t that what makes the original so great, that there is no reason. Actually, I think it’s the car that makes it great, and the chick on the motorcycle.

Oh, and in the new one, the Challenger will have air bags, so Kowalksi will live, and he’ll beat up 19 cops and hop in a Viper and go back to Denver.

Did anyone see Tarantino’s "Death Proof", with Zoe Bell riding the ’71 Challenger. Kurt Russell made that movie great.

Movies where the car’s the star...

Vanishing Point
The Car - ancient James Brolin horror flick with a chopped Lincoln Mark III
Smokey and Bandit
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
The Gumball Rally
Mad Max
Gone in 60 Seconds (original)
Aloha Bobby and Rose - Starring a beautiful ’68 Camaro and some people

Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
"Movies where the car’s the star..."

Forgot American Graffiti with Milners deuce. There was another almost cult movie back in the day where two guys drove around the country in a strait axled 55 Chevy (which was the same 55 in American Graffiti!) drag racing all comers. I can’t recall the name of the movie though.
Written By: markm
URL: http://
Two lane blacktop

Written By: markm
URL: http://
I liked the goat in that movie, almost as much as the 55. Almost...

Damn I wish my garage was done.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Damn I wish my garage was done.
As much as I love the American muscle cars, it’s just not in the budget, so I am rebuilding a ’79 Fiat Spider 2000.

Maybe when it’s done, I’ll trade for a ’69 Camaro hood and build the car around it.

Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Jon, you don’t need a bigger coat, just a long-sleeved white dress shirt and a red vest. Take the Viper and whatever other vehicles catch your eye to the "valet parking lot".
A LOT of vehicles caught my eye. Even the hybrids are getting pretty cool.
Jon, I hope you’re enjoying our fine Chicago weather.
I was not! But I did get to observe it through windows! And I’m spending another night in your fine town due to your fine Chicago weather!
The Challenger... how can I describe... that sound that Homer makes when he contemplates donuts
Yep, there was a lot of that today. The RX-8 does it for me, but I’m quite tolerant of diversity. Indeed, I’d be willing to have one of each. Because of the tolerance. And the diversity.
Did they add anything to the Challenger that will help it drive through bulldozers?
It does have quite a lot of horsepower.
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://
On the "beauties" of the car show...well, he has a photo. You can also see a Toyota Prius in the picture
There are cars in that pic?

Huh... Glad you told me. :)
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
The Challenger is wicked cool. Despite Chrysler’s other problems, their people on the "retro" team are doing it right.

In stark contrast to the Challenger, did you see any of the ChiComs’ entries (Changfeng, Tang Hau) in Chicago? IMHO, Changfeng is about five years from being ready for prime time, and Tang Hau is just silly. Changfeng is woefully short of the "econo-box" market; and Tang Hau is a perfect example of what you’d get if you locked a group of automotive designers in a room with a case of tequila and the collected works of Dr.Suess.

I should post my pics from NAIAS (THE auto show in Detroit, Rock City); although I can’t imagine anyone being interested in 700+ pictures of glove box latching mechanisms, center finish panels, cup holders, and console bin mats. Did I mention that I really dislike The Stoopid Business™?

If I’m not mistaken, the blonde in the Prius pic was also at NAIAS.

Written By: Michael

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