Chicago 2014: A Bit of a Preview

Another Year, Another Chicago Auto Show
It never gets old… Photo by Randy Stern

Frankfurt, Los Angeles and Detroit – yep, I missed them all.

Budgets and time constraints aside, no one should be excused for ignoring them. The wave of new product alone is worth a glance, especially when preparing for the one show to attend on Media Days.

For the fourth time in a row, it is back to McCormick Place in Chicago. This will be the fifth time in ten years for me. There has been quite the contrast between the first and the latest over the course of a decade.

In that span, I have seen the Chicago Auto Show grow to two halls at McCormick Place. That is a lot of walking – and a lot of work – for anyone to do. Of course, I always say: "but, it is worth it!" That is after I soak my feet in a hotel room's bathtub after the first day…

The stories I could tell of the first four Media Days would be a lot to fill your bandwidth. Yet, from the 2004 show, jumping to 2011 and through this year – every Chicago Auto Show represented a huge step in my professional life.

The Chicago Auto Show is where I meet with colleagues and contacts to reconnect. We discuss current issues, future stories, new vehicles and just catch up on everything. There is a lot of work to do, however…

In this work, I try to keep what I do in Chicago fresh in my mind. It is the place where I can see what my colleagues have written about, photographed and traded stories on from those previous major auto shows. We have seen the photos of the 2015 Chrysler 200, speculated on the Toyota FT-1 concept and questioned the merits of the Porsche 911 Targa's retractable roof. To witness it live completes the cycle. It helps make my work fresh.

With that said, I suppose a preview is in order as to what will be covered at this year’s Chicago Auto Show…

WHAT WILL BE REVEALED AT McCORMICK PLACE: According to the show, pressers are scheduled for Kia, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Chevrolet, Volvo, Volkswagen, BMW and Maserati. V&R will cover these reveals and parse out the most significant stories amongst them all.

THE PRIOR DEBUTS: First above all to "catch up" on is the 2015 Chrysler 200. The positive feedback on the new Fiat co-developed mid-sizer make this a huge draw – something akin to when the Cab Forward LH sedans first arrived on the scene. It has this kind of impact already. The promise of the 200 provides a challenge – a new twist on the whole "finding a better mid-sized family sedan" quest. In my case, the measuring stick is not the Toyota Camry or the Honda Accord – it is the Mazda6. If the 200 is as comfortable, roomy and drives like a Mazda6, Chrysler may have a winner here.

Aside from the new Chrysler 200, there is a laundry list of new vehicles to examine and explore. Some of these were actually drawn from you – the readership. You are curious if the Toyota FT-1 Concept is indeed the spiritual successor to the Supra. You want to see if the Subaru WRX and the newly minted STI were even worth having its own body style. You also talked about the new Corvette ZO6, the Porsche Macan, the Lexus RC F, the BMW M3 and M4…to name a few. All duly noted.

ANOTHER VOTY AWARDING: On February 6, the 2013 Victory & Reseda Vehicle of The Year will be awarded to General Motors and the Cadillac brand for the ATS. We are currently told that the handoff will be in the afternoon. Actual time will be announced on V&R's Facebook and Twitter before Media Days open. There will also be a second VOTY awarded that day, as well. Stay tuned as to which prior VOTY will receive it's long overdue award.

#FuelCAS: Remember this hashtag on your social media channels come February 7. That is the annual Chicago Auto Show Social Media Day. We credentialed journalists have Thursday mainly to ourselves. However, as a social media-borne outlet, the show will also welcome local and regional social media influencers and enthusiasts. There will be specific programming for that day, but it gives an opportunity for social media to shine in an atmosphere reserved for the very few. If you are attending this day and want to connect, please send V&R a message and we'll discuss topics related to social media and the automotive industry.

AND ONE MORE THING: Yes, my birthday happens to fall the day before Media Days begin. I turn 50 this year…

Stay tuned for coverage from McCormick Place via V&R's Facebook and Twitter. Quick impressions, photos and more will be available for you to experience this show.

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