The winter and spring auto shows around the nation are a sure way to find out what's up in the auto industry. While we don't go in for all the hype and hoopla of the shows (although we do enjoy the "Product Specialists" standing by the cars), we like to delve into the back corners. That means seeing what's behind the curtain or looking at the vehicle being ignored. This is often how the manufacturers judge future products by public interest, without ever saying a word about it. While this isn't rocket science or anything new, we love the Chicago Auto show because we always get something out of it that many others simply ignore-or don't bother to look for. Check out some of these cool things and let us know what you think.
Totally ignored was a nicely lifted Dodge-er, Ram 1500 pickup on 37s. The 4-inch kit is supposedly Mopar, as are the hood, body kit, and all the fancy DVD screens in the headrest, the super Kicker stereo, and the requisite bells and whistles. Sort of reminds us of our Project Black Sheep, which we did for the Mar. '10 cover.
Now we're talking badass vehicle! This is the Oshkosh M-ATV at about $1/2 million each. At that cost an IED shouldn't even touch it. This is the new heavy hitter for our troops overseas, and if looks alone could kick some insurgent butt, this would do it. The 46-inch tires are carried by a fully independent suspension front and rear, and the coils springs are enormous!
The Toyota Midnight Rider, inspired by Brooks and Dunn, was a bit over the top, with a BBQ and a big-screen TV in the back. Of course that meant a propane tank slung underneath for the grill, which is when we noticed the eight-lug Mickey Thompson 20-inch wheels. Of course our minds went racing to the thought of a real full-float eight-lug 3/4-ton front and rear axle slung under the black beast, but no. It appears that instead of making killer solid axles front and rear, simple wheel spacer/adapters were used. Oh well.
Not to be outdone, Suzuki had the best display with its LJ Jimny flanked by its concept car based on a Grand Vitara from previous shows. We couldn't help thinking how epic it would be to drive either one back from Chicago. The LJ is an early '70s model with a two-cylinder two-stroke engine, and it would fit nicely inside a fullsize truck bed.
The bigger beast has coilovers and 31-inch Thornbird tires and would be an awesome thrasher since its demise is all but certain. What do you think, Suzuki? Let us have it for a while. Or, hey, Zukiworld, how about loaning us the little one?
Now that most of us have been barraged by seemingly mindless Jeep commercials, does this one make sense either? In the end it doesn't matter to the enthusiast. These ads may help save Chrysler by selling Jeeps, which would save Chrysler, but do we care who buys a Jeep? No, as the nonenthusiast will eventually sell it, providing us with good used 4x4 to wheel in. As for the Compass and Patriot, well, we'll see what's coming.