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February 14 - 22, 2015
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Concept Car History
Chicago Auto Show -
A total of 954,785 people attended the 1991 Chicago Auto Show. Mercury showed the Mystique concept minivan, Chrysler displayed a Neon with a two-stroke engine, and Pontiac's ProtoSport 4 "idea car" suggested the possibility of a four-door Firebird. Chevrolet's Monte Carlo predicted the next-generation Lumina. People got an early peek at the 1992 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis, as well as the Buick LeSabre, Pontiac Bonneville, and Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight. A brand new, "breaking the mold" model debuted for 1991, was the Saturn, a division of General Motors but maintaining a separate identity. Eight years in development, Saturn sold for "no-haggle" prices and became known for a customer-friendly buying experience.
Official car of the 1991 Chicago Auto Show, a Toyota Celica sport coupe sits on a raised platform in the entrance lobby at McCormick Place.
A dramatically-shaped Plymouth Superbird is the featured attraction in this scene at the antique/classic exhibit space in the lower-level lobby of McCormick Place. A sign promotes the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. Note the long hidden-headlamp nose and huge rear wing on the Superbird, which was produced only in 1970 (a total of 1,920 built). The front end of a 427 Corvette can be seen at far left, ahead of an early Thunderbird with "porthole" quarter windows. Portions of several other models also are visible.
Portions of four cars make up this scene at Buick's upper-level display space. Three of them are Regals, including the blue coupe at left rear. The sedan at right rear is a LeSabre. At the rear is a wide promotional display area for Buick. Regals came in coupe and sedan form, with a choice of two V-6 engines.
A bright yellow Corvette convertible sits in an outer corner of Chevrolet's upper-level display space, apart from other models. At far right, toward the rear, is a red Camaro convertible. Corvettes earned a facelift for 1991, adopting the square tail lamps of the high-performance ZR-1 and adding a new tapered lower nose up front. A large Chevrolet sign, with the familiar bow-tie logo, sits directly to the rear of the Corvette.
A special display stand at Chevrolet's upper-level exhibit space highlights the fact that the full-size Caprice sedan, redesigned for 1991, had been voted "Car of the Year" by Motor Trend magazine. Giant calipers encircling the car are a symbol of the award.
At Cadillac's upper-level exhibit space, show goers got to see the redesigned Seville sedan, sitting on a raised platform in the center of this scene. The latest Seville would not go on sale until fall 1991, as a '92 model. Portions of three other Cadillac models also are visible
Facing toward the camera in the center of this scene at Oldsmobile's upper-level exhibit space is a Ninety-Eight sedan, equipped with a sunroof. The front end of a Silhouette minivan can be seen toward the left. At far left, the front ends of two Oldsmobile models poke into the picture: a light blue Cutlass Ciera in the foreground, and a Custom Cruiser station wagon to its rear.
A view of the Oldsmobile exhibit on the upper-level of McCormick Place during the 1991 Chicago Auto Show. In the center, is a side view of the General Motors HX3 experimental minivan. On the far left is the Olds Toronado Trofeo and an example of the 3.8 liter V-6 engine that powered the coupe model. Featured on the far right of the concept is a full-size Olds Custom Cruiser station wagon. This was the third generation of that model, which ended production after 1992. The rear-drive Custom Cruiser now had a fuel-injected V-8 engine instead of the prior carburetor setup.
A sign atop the red compact Grand Am, at left in this scene at Pontiac's display space, indicates that the car could be purchased for $9,990. To its right is a white Grand Am GT coupe. Portions of several other Pontiac models also are visible.
A white SC coupe occupies the foreground of this scene at the exhibit space for the new Saturn company. Although Saturn was a part of General Motors, many consumers did not realize there was a connection, as Saturns were marketed in a markedly different manner. In addition to the coupe, Saturn issued a trio of sedans, one of which is visible toward the rear, on a raised platform. A cutaway engine also is on display, at right. Saturn exhibited on the lower level, next to the Mitsubishi truck area.
A light blue subcompact Prizm sedan occupies the foreground of this scene at the exhibit space for Geo, the marketing arm for GM's imported models. Geo products were sold at Chevrolet dealerships. Similar to Toyota's Corolla, the Prizm was manufactured at the same factory in California. At far left is a mini-sized yellow Geo Tracker convertible sport-utility vehicle. A concept version of the Tracker, named Boom Box and featuring musical notes on its bodyside, sits on a raised platform at the center of the photo.
New for 1991 (introduced in spring 1990), an Explorer sport-utility vehicle sits on a raised platform at the exhibit space for Ford products, on the upper level. Available with either two or four doors, Explorer replaced the prior Bronco II. Ordinarily, trucks are displayed on the lower level of McCormick Place. Portions of two passenger cars can be seen in the left and right foreground, including a maroon Escort at far left. Subcompact Escorts had been redesigned, introduced as early '91 models.
A dark Continental sedan dominates this scene at the Lincoln exhibit space, on the upper level. Continentals gained 15 horsepower this year, as their 3.8-liter V-6 engine added a dual exhaust system. The sedans came in Executive and farther-upscale Signature series. Toward the rear, on raised platform, a Town Car is on the left and another Continental on the right.
A maroon 1992 Mercury Grand Marquis sedan sits on a raised platform in the right foreground of this scene at the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit space, on the upper level. Like the similar full-size Ford Crown Victoria, the redesigned Grand Marquis went on sale in spring 1991, as an early '92 model. Both models were rear-wheel-drive with V-8 engines. Several additional Mercury models are visible, including a Cougar coupe behind an engine displayed on a stand.
A Vanden Plas sedan, poshest member of the XJ6 family, sits on a raised platform at the lower-level exhibit space for Jaguar motorcars. Only technical and detail changes were evident this year, including new wheels and a "fluted" grille for the Vanden Plas. The Majestic sedan, most costly model in 1990, did not reach the U.S. this year.
New for 1991, a Navajo sport-utility vehicle sits on a raised platform, with Christmas-like wintry decor, at the upper-level space for Mazda automobiles. Navajo was related to the new Ford Explorer. A sign advises that Navajo was named "truck of the year" by Motor Trend magazine.
A blue Eclipse sport coupe occupies the foreground of this scene at the upper-level display space for Mitsubishi Motors. Similar to the Eagle Talon and Plymouth Laser, Eclipses came in base, GS, GS DOHC, GS Turbo, and all-wheel-drive GSX form. Toward the rear are two examples of the new 3000GT sports car, a Mitsubishi sedan, and a concept HSR-II coupe. The oversize calipers at rear suggest that Mitsubishi has won an award from Motor Trend magazine.
A silver-colored 911 convertible sits partially enclosed by ropes at the lower-level Porsche exhibit space. A Porsche Turbo rejoined the lineup this year.
A Sterling 827 sedan dominates this scene at the British company's lower-level display space. Sterlings came in three forms: 827Si and 827SL notchback sedan, and 827SLi hatchback sedan. Based on the 1986-90 Acura Legend, Sterlings used a 160-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6 engine. Toward the rear, a sleek Sterling concept coupe sits on a raised round platform.
A white Legacy station wagon with a roof rack dominates this scene at the company's main-floor display space. Produced in both Japan and Indiana, Legacy sedans and wagons carried a 2.2-liter flat four-cylinder engine, rated 130 horsepower. A 160-horsepower turbocharged engine went into the Legacy Sport Sedan. Three other Subaru models can be seen toward the rear, including a maroon sedan sitting atop a tall rounded portal and (at far left) the front end of an SVX sport coupe, intended for sale as a 1992 model.
A Golf 4-door hatchback dominates the left foreground of this scene at the main-floor exhibit space for Volkswagen automobiles. Four engines were available in hatchback Golf and notchback Jetta models, including a diesel four-cylinder and a dual-cam four (in the new Golf GTI 16V and the Jetta GLI 16V). Portions of several other Volkswagen models can be seen toward the rear, including a glimpse of a Cabriolet (convertible), based on the old Rabbit design. Several banners refer to "Fahrvergnugen," which was the VW theme at this time.
Only portions of several vehicles are visible in this scene at the main-floor exhibit space for Volvo automobiles. At right rear is a special exhibit of crash-testing, featuring an orange Volvo sedan that has been crashed into a frontal barrier. It's part of Volvo's Safety Gallery. Note the kiosk near the foreground, with stacks of Volvo sales brochures.
From the Yugoslavian automaker Yugo is the new Cabrio model. Built on the same front-drive platform as the regular Yugo hatchback, now called GV Plus, the Cabrio carried a 67 horsepower four-cylinder engine.
The red carpet beckons on the lower level of McCormick Place, in this long shot down a main aisle. Note the "1991" numerals integrated into the carpeting, and the "Chicago Auto Show '91" portal. Only tiny glimpses of a few trucks can be seen on one side of the aisle.
An Econoline van sits beneath a square-styled portal at the lower-level space for Ford trucks. Ford took the opportunity at the 1991 Chicago Auto Show to introduce the restyled full-size van, intended for sale as a 1992 model.
A white mid-size Dakota Club Cab pickup dominates this scene at the lower-level display for Dodge trucks. Note the darker lower-body trim and red striping. To its rear, a blue Dakota Sport pickup with structural bars in its cargo bed sits on a raised round platform. A big sign overhead promotes the fact that Dakota was named "4x4 of the Year" by 4Wheel Magazine.
A red Land Cruiser sits on a raised round platform at the lower-level display for Toyota trucks. Another Land Cruiser can be seen at left. Introduced in March 1990 as a '91 model, this was the first redesign for the full-size Land Cruiser sport-utility in a decade. Permanent four-wheel-drive was standard, and the 4.0 liter inline six-cylinder engine produced 155 horsepower.
Auto shows are often the only place the public can view exotic cars in person. A rare appearance of the Vector W8 took place at the 1991 Chicago show. The supercar was powered with twin turbocharged 6.0 liter fuel-injected aluminum V-8s capable of 600-plus screaming horsepower. Headed by Gerald A. Wiegert, Vector Aeromotive Corporation had already been around for a decade, but only a handful of cars ever were produced.
Two very different vehicles are pictured in this scene at the display space for the Roaring Twenties Motor Car Company. The Corsair Navigator at left is a replica of a classic-era roadster, featuring a long hood, external headlamps, and exposed exhaust system. At right, partially concealed by foliage, is a red modern-looking sports car. During the 1970s and '80s, dozens of replicar manufacturers had displayed their wares at the Chicago Auto Show, but by the '90s that trend was evaporating.
Zara Motor Company exhibited this cutaway version of its red sport coupe, to reveal the car's construction details and interior arrangement. The car is sitting on a raised platform, behind ropes, on the lower level.