By Mark G. McLaughlin
From now through February 20, the attention of the international automotive industry and car-lovers everywhere will be focused on downtown Chicago. That is where 36 major auto makers from the United States, Europe and Asia have taken over a massive one million-square foot exhibit hall to present their best and most innovative new vehicles.
The Chicago Auto Show turns 109 this year, and the 2017 edition of the nation’s largest car show has almost everything a prospective buyer, driver or automobile-lover could want. Although attendees cannot actually buy a car at the show, the exhibitors will eagerly direct them to dealers around Chicago or back at the visitor’s home town.
2017 Chicago Auto Show
2301 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60616
Date: February 11—20, 2017
The Chicago Automobile Trade Association took over what has become the biggest consumer auto show in the country back in 1935, and every year since they just seem to get better and better at it. This year, they have invited 36 automakers and a score of other companies and institutions that either help meet car-owners’ needs and expectations, or who have come along for the ride – like the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps, among others.
There will be cars to look at, touch and sit in, as well as simulators and other attractions. The Chicago Auto Show is a true consumer show, in that historically two out of three attendees come not just to look, but also “come to shop,” as the show’s sponsors note with pride.
The Cars Are The Stars
The cars are the stars of the 2017 Chicago Auto Show, and there will be about a thousand of them at over the course of the show. Visitors are expected to line up to see them all, especially the 40 vehicles that will make their debut at McCormick Place. The new and final flashy Dodge Viper, the much-anticipated KIA Niro, the sleek Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the nostalgic Ford Mustang and dozens of other brand new cars will be mobbed by the curious and the contemplative alike. But as usual, the surest crowd pleaser of all will be the Batmobile.
The Real Crowd-Pleaser: The LEGO Batmobile
This year’s version of the Caped Crusader’s famous ride will be the most unusual, creative and whimsical of all, for it is made out of LEGOs. The LEGO Batmobile is Chevrolet’s concept car of the show, and is comprised of over 344,000 plastic bricks built around an square-tube aluminum frame. This is not the classic or even typical Dark Knight’s set of wheels, as it is a life-size version of the Speedwagon Batman will drive in the upcoming Warner Bros. LEGO Batman Movie, which opens in theaters the day before the Chicago Auto Show.
Plenty More To See & Do
There is a lot more to do at the Chicago Auto Show than just gawk about at new cars. There are many vendors and exhibitors to entertain, tempt and inform visitors. Car clubs, artists, custom car designers and many other vendors that offer items and services for the vehicle and the driver will be lining the vendor hall. Among the most popular are the State Farm Roadhouse, the interactive Concept and Technology Garage Exhibit and, especially, the indoor Test Tracks on which drivers can take a spin in a new car and. After all, getting let alone hoping to take a spin in one of these beauties is what this show is all about, and has been so for more than a century.