In terms of new production or concept car debuts, the 2013 Chicago Auto Show is unmistakably a smaller show – but, for the visiting public, there’s still plenty to see. If you find yourself heading to the Windy City over the next week (public days run February 9 through 18), here are the eleven cars you must see while strolling along the show floor.
The New Debuts
Kia Cross GT Concept
Should Kia build a luxury crossover? Maybe. Should it look like the Cross GT? That’s a strong yes. We love the concept’s proportions, stance, and sensual sheetmetal. We also love the wrap-around bucket seats, trimmed in rich almond-colored leather and accented with fine contrast stitching. We’d love to see that detail carried through into production – assuming, of course, Kia decides it wants to tiptoe into this segment.
Toyota’s new look (and interior) for its full-size truck is certainly worth a look. We think the new appearance is attractive, but doubt a cosmetic makeover alone is enough to net Toyota any more foothold in the pickup market – especially when competitors are bringing new technology and powertrain features to the fold.
Ford Focus trackSTer Concept
We weren’t sure what to think when we first learned of this one-off Focus, but the result is staggering. Fifteen52 took an already wild ST, pulled a Nigel Tufnell, and cranked this thing well past eleven. The wildly flared wheel arches lend this the look of a full-bore rally car, as does the wrap-around rear spoiler. We also hear there’s some nice performance hardware beneath the surface, including a Quaife limited-slip front diff and four-piston front brake calipers. Hey, Ford – know that Focus RS model we’ve been begging you to build? Make it something like this, please.
Volkswagen Super Beetle Concept
Unlike the new Beetle GSR, which isn’t any more powerful than a stock Beetle Turbo, the so-called Super Beetle packs a wild punch. Built in partnership with VWVortex and shown at last year’s SEMA show, the Super Bug packs 500 hp and all-wheel drive. With that sort of power beneath the surface, we can’t help but wonder if red, white, and blue stripes and “53” numbering would be more appropriate than the matte blue paint used here.
Mazda MX-5 Super 25
Light pods do make any car inherently cooler. That said, the MX-5 Super 25 concept was pretty cool to begin with. We first saw this at the 2012 SEMA show, and fell in love with its fixed hardtop, black alloy wheels, and gutted (and caged) interior. Mazda says the concept was designed with endurance racing in mind, and we’d wouldn’t think twice about spending long stretches behind the wheel on any given closed course.
Didn’t make it to the 2011 Tokyo auto show? Don’t worry; Honda managed to pull the EV-ster concept out of storage and plop it on its Chicago auto show stand. We like the little roadster’s stance, proportions, and svelte size (bring on the Beat flashbacks), and hope the small roadster Honda’s hinted at building adheres closely to this design. Perhaps the fact this little thing keeps popping up at U.S. shows is a sign Honda’s gauging Americans’ reaction to such a car.
“Turbo” Customized Chevrolet Camaro
We’d never heard of it until know, but apparently Dreamworks’ forthcoming animated movie “Turbo” revolves around a snail that aspires to go racing. And, from what we’re told, a cartoonish, customized Camaro plays a part in his dreams. This Camaro was built up to resemble the movie car, and boasts a modified engine towering out of the hood in Ed Roth “Weird-Oh” fashion. Never mind the ZL1 badging and the apparent presence of a supercharger (or the “Turbo” moniker) – we’re told this Camaro is actually built off a stock SS.
SyFy Dodge Charger
Lest you think every post-apocalyptical film involves Australian Ford Falcons, here’s a battle-ravaged, armor-clad Dodge Charger sedan that will have a starring role in Defiance, a video game/ TV show that’s set to air later this year on Syfy.
Karl’s Kustom Corvette C6/C3 Stingray
It wouldn’t be a Chicago auto show without at least one retro-themed modern car on display. Sure enough, Karl’s Kustom Corvettes brought another one of its C6/C3 chimaeras to this year’s show. Karl showed a convertible model last year, but brought its Stingray coupe model this time. Does it pull off the split-window look? You be the judge.
Hot Wheels 1968 Chevrolet Camaro
Chevy announced its production-spec 2013 Camaro Hot Wheels Edition model at the 2012 SEMA show, but also built up a resto-mod ’68 Camaro to match. The Spectraflame Blue paint and five-spoke rims are nearly identical to the 2013 Camaro Hot Wheels production car, but other touches – notably the rectangular side exhaust ports and white interior – allow it to resemble vintage Hot Wheels Camaro replicas of the 1960s.
American Motors AMX/3
Located just aft of the Nissan display is an odd grouping of classic cars – and by odd, we mean it ranges from a vintage Jaguar XK to a ’93 Mustang Cobra. That said, the highlight has to be the ‘70 American Motors AMX/3 prototype. One of six built by Giotto Bizzarrini as part of a project to develop a challenger to the DeTomaso Mangusta (and, ultimately, the Pantera), the AMX/3 wraps American muscle (an AMC 390-cubic-inch V-8) in sultry sheetmetal.