Chicago 2012: The Picks of The Show

In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have some favorites amongst what I have experienced at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show.

I am certain that this would turn into another Five Favorites article where I bold the names of five specific automobiles; go into a brief explanation why they’re significant and so forth. No. There were many vehicles I spend time checking out inside and out that only four stood out amongst the multitude in the North and South Halls of McCormick Place.

Chicago 2012: Plenty of Catching Up To Do…

Consider how large the Chicago Auto Show's exhibition space is. That is 1.2 million square feet of space that has everything and anything you will need to navigate through the automotive world. Couple that with in-show experiences – ride-alongs, an area celebrating the United States Army, fun areas for the kids, vendors, and so forth – then you understand why one would come to McCormick Place in mid-February.

Between the two auto shows I attend annually, Chicago offers more bang for the buck. The First Look for Charity is considered one of the top events to do for the socially mobile in the Chicagoland Area. The show attracts an entire region to McCormick Place with new vehicles that are currently on sale or coming soon to a dealer near you.

As a member of the working automotive media corps, if I was unable not attend the shows in Los Angeles, Detroit, New York, Houston, Washington, or anyplace we are welcome, Chicago is a great place to catch up on what I missed throughout the calendar.

Let’s do some catching up, shall we?

Ghosts Along the Assembly Line – The Upper Midwest Edition

There are now generations of Americans who have forgotten that there was a mighty production facility in their community. Though some of them have not seen the wrecking ball, others either resemble a lay of wasteland or have been built to unrecognizable specifications.

Mopar at 75

Remember when you actually followed your owner's manual and replaced parts from your local dealership? You recall the clause in the owner's manual to replace your oil filter, air filter and spark plugs with a manufacturer's own brand. How many of us actually did that?

Seventy-five years ago, a company called Chrysler decided to join General Motors and Ford to offer a distinct brand of maintenance parts along with accessories to customize your vehicle. GM called their products "AC" or "Delco-Remy." Ford had "Autolite" and "Motorcraft." Chrysler came up with the brand "Motor Parts" whose acronym has gone beyond just a brand for an anti-freeze solution – Mopar.

The name Mopar is more than just the brand for parts and accessories for Chrysler and Fiat products. It is a calling card for all things Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM, SRT, Plymouth, Eagle, DeSoto, Imperial…and so on. For the past 75 years, Mopar is a term of endearment for a company and its output of loyalty through customization and optimal maintenance of Chrysler's vehicles.

Why Mopar?

The Class of 1982: The Franco-American Affair

If divine foreign intervention did not come in time for an American automaker, the company in question would have probably ceased to exist by 1982.

It is an audacious statement to make where history was thwarted to save a company from extinction. We’ve seen this many times over the past 30 years where Detroit-based automakers sought alliances and acquisitions with other automakers around the globe. To recall each one would be a massive effort to digest and analyze. Yet, most of the readers of this site have probably forgotten the scenario that put American Motors on the brink before Renault came in to assist them through most of the 1980s.

Your Turn: A SRT Dream Fulfilled

Tweet Taking Photos of Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Photo by Randy Stern We, automotive writers and journalists, love getting asked consumer questions. For example:…

Detroit 2012: The View from Afar

No, I was not there this year.

If you read my Twitter, you'd probably wondered if I were to show up at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Unfortunately, the stars did not align properly. Yet, I was asked by fellow journalists, media relations people and other industry support people whether I would make the trek to the Motor City for this very important exhibition of the automobile. Not this year. I will someday.

Because of the speed of information available online and the ability to see video and images from the show readily, I was able to ascertain the big debuts and the most curious appearances at Cobo Hall. This helped in my coverage last year from my home in the Twin Cities.

Of course, there's nothing like being there. You get to see and touch these new products ahead of consumer sale. You get to see whether you'd feel comfortable behind the wheel of one. That’s why we go to auto shows, right?

Without further ado, here are my picks from NAIAS…

Which Ones Sold How Many in 2011?

The annual sales figures are in! I could recount which vehicles were the best sellers in the nation, but I’d rather concentrate on how last year’s main vehicle review subjects fared in 2011. Also, I try to analyze how each vehicle could fare in the coming year.

Them and Us – Epilogue

In May on V&R (and in October in Lavender), there was an article looking at the corporate view of the interconnection between the automotive industry and the LGBT community. It spurred plenty of discussion offline on how this information either helped both sides of the question – or, whether it truly mattered at all.

As an update to these articles, the Human Rights Campaign just released their 2012 Corporate Equality Index.

The Class of 1982: Chrysler, Iacocca and the K-Car

What was the biggest automotive story during my senior year in high school?

There were plenty – ranging from the economy, immediate frustration with the Reagan Administration to Valley Girls. Los Angeles reveled in the aftermath of Fernando Valenzuela and the 1981 World Champion Dodgers. What made this story special was that it took a stocky left-handed pitcher from rural Mexico to captivate a city with all races coming together at Chavez Ravine.

Let us not forget, this was the Los Angeles that dazzled in the shine of Showtime – the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, one particular story captured the most headlines in the automotive world during the course of 1981-82 school year. When people talked about automobiles, many conversations came up – either positive or dismissive. Yet, you could not ignore it – the commercials were all over and the vehicles were selling. He appeared in a good chunk of his company's spots – with a manifesto on his lips: "If you could find a better car, buy it!"

I am talking about Lee Iacocca and Chrysler's K-Car comeback.