With images of past auto shows in the rearview mirror, and modern downtown skyscrapers ahead, a car is heading south on Lake Shore Drive toward McCormick Place and the 2001 Chicago Auto Show (CAS). The CAS was celebrating its 100th anniversary (1901-2001), which included a rich history as one of the most innovative and best auto show in the country. Automotive concept vehicles included the Buick Bengal convertible, Ford Forty Nine dream car, Cadillac Vizon crossover, Jeep Willys, Chevy Borrego and Hyundai HCD6 Roadster.
Outside of McCormick Place South, a large banner commemorated the 100th-year anniversary of the first official Chicago Auto Show in 1901. The 2001 show logo was interfaced with the words '100 Years.' Printed on the lower section of the banner was the word Welcome,' in eight different languages.
Photographed from a high vantage point above the show floor, various Cadillac car and truck-based luxury vehicles wait to be positioned inside the Cadillac/GM exhibit. Portions of two Escalade sport utility vehicles are in the foreground, with a black four-door Audi A6 sedan mixed-in with the Cadillacs. Two white Cadillac DeVille front-wheel drive luxury sedans sit in the middle of the photo, and parked behind the forklift is a front-wheel drive Seville. Seen behind the long shipping crate near the top of the image, are the roof of another Seville and a side view of a rear-wheel drive Catera.
Special exhibits were in the lower level lobby of McCormick Place South. On display was a Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited Edition, which was one of two official vehicles of the 2001 Chicago show and a First Look for Charity event door prize. The other vehicle was a Dodge Caravan minivan. The PT Cruiser was won by Anne & David Coupe.
DaimlerChrysler Executive Vice President of Product Development Rich Schaum presented the all-new 2002 Dodge Ram to the media during its world debut February 7, 2001. Completely new from the ground-up, the Ram was offered as a regular cab and Quad Cab configurations, with both two- and four-wheel drive. The Quad Cab model had four full-size rear-opening doors. Two new engines offered were the 3.7 liter Magnum V-6 with 212 horsepower, and 235 hp 4.7L Magnum V-8. A more potent 5.9L 245 hp Magnum V-8 was also available.
Mercury lifted the veil off the 2003 Marauder four-door muscle car during the 2001 Chicago Auto Show. First seen as a 1998 concept, the monochromatic black pre-production model was powered by a 300 horsepower 4.6 liter V-8 engine with 300 lb-ft of torque. Along with the engine, other high performance goodies included a beefed-up suspension, four-speed automatic transmission and 18-inch tires.
Pre-show preparations included the uncrating and assembly of hundreds of components that made up a manufacturers exhibit. Workers carefully raised a large Pontiac sign that would be displayed above the show floor. Several Pontiac models in the background are covered to protect them during construction. The vehicle on the raised curved platform is the 2001 Sunfire AV coupe first shown at the 2000 SEMA show. Also see photo 2001-35 for another view of the sign, and 2001-37 for another image of the Sunfire.
Dodge held the world debut of the completely new 2002 Dodge Ram at the 2001 Chicago show. To demonstrate its latest features, a special articulated Ram regular cab model, would begin as a complete vehicle, and then slowly come apart in sections, to expose the redesigned interior, engine compartment and chassis. For 2002, the Ram was offered as a regular cab and Quad Cab configurations, with both 2 and 4-wheel drive. The Quad Cab model had 4-full-size rear-opening doors. Two new engines offered in the Ram were the 3.7-liter Magnum V-6 with 212 horsepower, and 235 horsepower 4.7-liter Magnum V-8. A more potent 5.9-liter/245-hp Magnum V-8 was also available.
Available in Europe and Japan, but not in the United States, Mazda decided to display its Premacy models to assess the crowd's reaction. On the raised platform, two Mazda spokespeople demonstrated the ease of removing the rear seats for added cargo room. Premacy was fitted with a 130 horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and ventilated front disc and rear drum brakes.
Several cameramen videotaped the exterior and interior of the new 2002 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab, just moments after it was introduced to the media on Feb 7, 2001. The redesigned cabin featured four forward-hinged full-size doors, and the 74.6-inch cargo bed was the longest in the compact truck class. Three engines were offered, including the 143 horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, the 170 horse 3.3-liter V-6, and the 210 horsepower supercharged 3.3-liter V-6. All Frontiers were available with rear or four wheel drive.
A closeup 3/4 front view of the new 2002 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab. The redesigned cabin featured four forward-hinged full-size doors, and the 74.6-inch cargo bed was the longest in the compact truck class. Three engines were offered, including the 143 horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, the 170 horse 3.3-liter V-6, and the 210 horsepower supercharged 3.3-liter V-6. All Frontiers were available with rear-wheel or four wheel drive.
As the Chicago auto show celebrated it's100 anniversary in 2001, the First Look for Charity event marked its 10th year. The black-tie gala was on Thursday, Feb. 8, at McCormick Place South. Festivities began at 7 p.m. and ran until 10:30. Admission tickets cost $150, with all proceeds benefiting 17 local charities. A total of $1,707,750 was raised from the event. The ticket also gave a chance to win a new Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited Edition, and a Dodge Caravan minivan. Three formal dressed people posed for a photo with the Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie. The Batmobile was displayed in the General Motors Onstar exhibit, as well as to promote the Onstar safety system.
Two gentlemen dressed in formal wear stopped to admire a tuxedo-black Volkswagen New Beetle during the First Look for Charity evening at the Chicago Auto Show. This was the 100th anniversary of the annual Chicago show, and the 10th year for the black-tie benevolent event. Held Thursday, Feb. 8, at McCormick Place South, the First Look for Charity began at 7 p.m. and ran until 10:30. An admission ticket cost $150, with all proceeds benefiting 17 local charities. A total of $1,707,750 was raised. The ticket also gave a chance to win a new Chrysler PT Cruiser Limited Edition, and a Dodge Caravan minivan.
Within the Buick exhibit, the new 2002 Rendezvous midsize sport utility vehicle was displayed during the 2001 Chicago show. Rendezvous was available as either front or all-wheel drive. On the right is a rear view of the LeSabre Custom 4-door sedan, which was America's best-selling full-size car at the time.
On the right, mounted on a slanted platform is the elegant Buick LaCrosse concept car. This 4-door hardtop dream machine was powered by a Northstar-based 4.2 liter V-8. Unique rear hatch slid into the roof, revealing a wagon-like storage area. As a nod to past Buicks, the LaCrosse featured portholes atop the front fenders. On the left is a rear view of the LeSabre Custom 4-door sedan, America's best-selling full-size car at the time.
A spectacular view inside the Pontiac exhibit illustrated the variety of production models and SEMA show modified vehicles on display during the 2001 Chicago show. In the foreground is the Aztek midsize sport-utility vehicle, partially blocking the view of a black Grand Am 4-door sedan. In the background, the 2001 Sunfire AV 2-door coupe show car was displayed high off the ground, on a curved platform.
A large portion of the 2001 GMC exhibit was filled with a stylish display for the 2002 Envoy. All new for '02, the larger Envoy replaced the aging Jimmy series. Standing 7-inches taller, Envoy was also 8 inches longer and a full 4 inches wider. Standard engine was GM's all-new all-aluminum Vortec 4200 inline-six engine, achieving V-8 performance at 270 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. Built up from a new hydroformed steel frame, the 4-door, 5-passenger Envoy featured independent front suspension and five-link live rear axles, with an electronically adjustable air suspension an option. Contributing to a more stable, comfortable ride, the '02 Envoy had a wider track and rode on larger standard 17-inch Michelin tires and aluminum wheels.
Inside the Ford exhibit, three truck-based vehicles were on display. In the foreground is a 2001 Explorer Sport Trac midsize sport-utility vehicle, featuring a 4-door cabin and a 4-ft-long pickup bed. The lone power train on the Sport Trac consisted of a 4.0-liter V-6, coupled to a 5-speed automatic with overdrive. On the right is a 3/4 rear-view of the next generation of the best-selling sport utility vehicle in the world, a 2002 Ford Explorer. Two engines were available on the midsize Explorer SUV, a 210 horsepower 4-liter V-6 and an optional 240 horsepower 4.6-liter V-8. On the far left, a portion of the Explorer Sportsman concept can be seen.
Billed as Lincoln's first pickup truck, the 2002 Lincoln Blackwood was display at the '01 show, and went on sale in the spring of that year. Based on the Ford F-150 SuperCrew, the Blackwood was a luxury utility vehicle with four-full-size doors, and a stylish carpet and stainless steel trim Cargo Trunk.' An electrically operated rigid clam shell tonneau cover capped the truck bed, which Lincoln called a trunk.' In place of a traditional truck tailgate, the Blackwood featured dual side-opening rear doors. Power was supplied by a 300 horsepower 5.4 liter V-8, with a maximum towing capacity of 8,700 pounds.
In honor of golf superstar Tiger Woods, Buick named its sexy open-air concept from 2001, the Bengal. Buick was a sponsor for Woods on the PGA circuit, and he also served as a spokesperson for the automotive brand. The Bengal featured a supercharged 3.4 liter V-6 engine teamed with the SC Hydra-Matic XT6, GM’s first six-speed automatic transmission. Another first for GM on the Bengal was the front-wheel-drive transmission housed in front of the engine, rather than behind it. GM called it “wheels forward” design. A tonneau cover hid auxiliary rear seats.
Influenced by past Buick concepts, including the 1939 Y-Job, the LaCrosse was a luxury 4-door hardtop cruiser that carried oversized cargo when panels opened to reveal its pickup-type bed. Classic Buick design cues on the LaCrosse were ventiports (portholes) atop the front fenders, sweepspear side profile, and vertical-bar grille. The large one-piece hood opened to the side, giving easy access to the 265 horsepower, 4.2-liter aluminum block V-8. Powertrain also included an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission, and the ride on 21-inch Michelin run-flat tires gave the 5-passenger LaCrosse safe and sure-footed performance.
Cadillac built the LMP (LeMans Prototype) to communicate a new world image and to challenge European luxury brand racing cars. Under Cadillac's supervision, domestic builder Riley & Scott constructed the LMP. A twin-turbo Northstar 4-liter V-8 engine powered the vehicle, and a Cadillac-type grille was built-in to the aerodynamic front section.
The Cadillac Vizón concept gave the public its first glimpse at the shape, razor-edged styling and size of the forthcoming 2004 SRX luxury sport-utility vehicle. A 300 horsepower, Northstar 4.2 liter V-8 was linked to a five-speed automatic gearbox, and vertical gills on the side of the front fenders opened to cool the engine bay. Vizón 's leather upholstered interior seated four-passengers, and featured a unique two-piece sunroof with a front panel able to angle upward while the rear could retract.
Chrysler gave the public an early preview of the 2004 Crossfire two-seat fastback coupe during the 2001 Chicago show. True to classic 1950s dream cars by Virgil Exner, the Crossfire carbon fiber body featured a long hood, short rear deck, fully opened wheel wells, a center peak line, or "spine," and classic-looking grille. Painted in elegant sapphire silver pearl, the car’s rakish profile was due in part to the combination of 19-inch tires in the front and 21-inch tires on the rear. The Crossfire concept came with a supercharged 275 horsepower, 2.7 liter V-6 engine, mated to a five-speed manual. Chrysler estimated that the Crossfire achieved 60 miles per hour in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 148 mph.
With bold but controversial styling, the Dodge Super8 Hemi featured a 1950s wraparound windshield, green plastic side spears, center-opening doors, no "B" pillars, and signature cross-bar grille. A new Hemi 353 horsepower, 5.7 liter V-8 engine supplied 395 pound-feet power to the rear wheels, and another retro touch was the push buttons to operate the four-speed automatic transmission. Passengers had the use of an internet-based off-board navigation system with email access.
Weighting only 2600 pounds, the Ford EX 2-seat concept vehicle featured high- quality, detailed composite body sections on a Chrome-Moly steel frame that was resistant to corrosion and ready to take on any off-road adventure. To achieve a 50/50 weight distribution, the transfer case and aluminum radiator with dual fans were moved rearward, and an ecto-skeletal design allowed the components to be visible. In lieu of door handles, padded grip areas on the top and side frame eased access when climbing in and out of the cabin, plus the bronze tinted windshield could fold down and clip to the top of the hood. Other features included dual stainless steel side exiting exhausts, 5-spoke, 17-inch cast aluminum wheels, and a full size spare tire cradled behind the seating area. A 375 horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 engine was supercharged, produced 410-pound feet of torque to the 4-wheel drive system, and was mated to a 5-speed manual box.
Based on the 2002 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle, the Explorer Sportsman concept featured two sunroofs, a fully detachable roof rack and running boards that deployed when doors were opened. Outfitted with Scott Flyfishing Rods, the Explorer Sportsman was finished in a low-gloss, satin metallic green, coupled with satin-finished front and rear chrome skid-plates. A washable interior was created to meet the needs of a true outdoorsman and included seat backs that could function as 'workbenches.' A new all-aluminum 240 horsepower 4.6 liter V-8 engine that powered the 2002 Explorer production vehicle was used in the Sportsman concept.
Influenced by the classic 1949-1951 Ford, the Forty-Nine coupe concept also had the chopped and channeled look on customized cars from that era. The Forty-Nine featured rounded high intensity discharge and projector-beam front lighting, sleek, narrow, wrap-around LED taillights, and a roof with an all-glass upper structure. Inside, a raised console ran down the middle between the four-bucket seats, and in front of the driver was a classic single-dial gauge cluster. "Powered by Thunderbird" badge on the side announced that a T-Bird 3.9 liter DOHC V-8 in the engine bay was tuned to fit the car's appearance and refined muscle.
GMC's Terracross was a five-passenger SUV concept with an overall length of 171.9 inches. It featured conventional front doors; with rear doors that would slide open and shut. Roof structure was designed without B-pillars, allowing for easy entry/exit. Built into the roof was a three-panel glass sliding section for panoramic views. Under the chiseled hood, beat a 3.4 liter V-6, connected to an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
The Honda Model X concept vehicle, developed and designed by Honda's R&D in the U.S., revealed a tough and versatile vehicle powered by the next-generation i-VTEC four-cylinder. Mated to the engine was a rally-style five-speed manual transmission. A portion of the roofline slid forward, and the rear window disappeared down into the tailgate. To help provide an "open architecture" style, the Model X was designed without a B Pillar and with center opening rear doors. Inside, the cabin floor was made of textured resin for easy clean up, and the back of the front seats slid across the seat cushion to provide a rear-facing seat when the vehicle was parked.
Hyundai Motor American chose the 100th anniversary of the Chicago Auto Show to debut the HCD6 Roadster concept. This was Hyundai’s 1st mid-engine prototype, and came equipped with a 215 horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6, 6-speed manual gearbox and 4-wheel independent suspension. A transparent cover was featured over the engine bay. Designed by Hyundai’s design studio team in Fountain Valley, California, the 2-seat roadster had deeply-sculpted side air intake system to channel cold air to the engine, detachable floating front and rear bumpers, 18-inch wheels with run-flat tires, and projected beam headlights that turned with the front wheels. The attractive body was finished in a 3-stage Mysteria paint by DuPont, which allowed the HCD6 to visually change from teal to dark purple. Simple, functional interior was upholstered in a sporty stretch fabric, with smooth leather and metal accents.
A popular concept vehicle at the 2001 Chicago Auto Show was the low-slung Infiniti FX45 prototype. Created to compete in the growing crossover luxury SUV market, the all-wheel drive FX45 dream machine featured a sporty, wide stance that was accentuated by huge wheels and rubber. The rear tailgate opened in two pieces, with the glass hatch swiveling upwards, and the lower gate swiveling downwards. A slide-out load floor was incorporated for ease of cargo loading. Overhead, the roof on the FX45 was made of glass with automatic shades for passenger comfort. A specially tuned 4.5-liter V-8 produced 300 horsepower and 300 ft-lbs of torque, backed by a 5-speed automatic transmission.
DaimlerChrysler paid homage to Willys Motors contribution to Jeep's heritage with a unique concept in 2001, titled 'Willys.' This open-air two-door prototype featured a carbon-fiber body on an aluminum frame. The Willys concept used a 160 horsepower, supercharged four-cylinder engine connected to an automatic transmission and two-speed transfer case.
At the 2001 Chicago Auto Show, Mitsubishi displayed the RPM 7000 dream machine to gauge peoples reaction to the stylish crossover SUV, Designed in Mitsubishi's Cypress, California Design Studio, the RPM 7000 combined design elements found on Formula One, GT and Rally racing vehicles. Also borrowed from racing was the 315 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine that propelled the concept vehicle.
Nissan's Alpha-T prototype was a bold four-door concept that hinted at the next-generation Frontier pickup truck. All the doors opened with butterfly action, and the Alpha-T rolled on massive 22.5-inch alloy wheels and 265/60R22.5 off-road tires.
The Z Concept from 2001 featured near identical exterior styling to the 2003 Nissan 350Z production sports car, built in Oppama, Japan. Under the Coppertone hood of the Z Concept purred a 3.5 liter V-6 engine, and the dream machine rode on seven-spoke, 20-inch flange-less rims.
The poised and confident Oldsmobile O4 showcased the company's “architectonic” styling geared toward a younger audience. Its "O" in the O4 name, played on the chemical symbol for oxygen and open air, while the “4” stood for its 4-place seating and its unique ability to adapt for 4-seasons. The Oldsmobile design studio worked in cooperation with the world-renowned Bertone Design studio in Turin, Italy. Underneath the supple exterior was a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine borrowed from Opel, and an “Information Ring” around the steering column replaced the traditional instrument panel and center console with a single point for all important driver information.
On prominent display in the Pontiac exhibit was the stylish Rev four-door crossover concept vehicle. Under the dual air scoop hood, sat a potent 245 horsepower 3 liter OHC V-6, mated to an electronic sequential five-speed manual transmission with automatic mode that shifted through five-speeds via and with a sequential “joystick” operated by wire.. The Rev was all wheel drive and featured an adjustable suspension to match the changing terrain. Featuring center-opening doors with no B-pillar, this prototype introduced a unique lift/tailgate arrangement to access the rear cargo area. Wide 19-inch wheels in front and 20-inchers in the rear exposed large ventilated disc brakes and high performance calipers.
Toyota's "Rugged Sport Coupe," or RSC, was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, and kicked off two days of automotive news conferences. The RSC concept vehicle was developed at the CALTY Design Research Center in New Beach, Calif, and combined 2+2 seating and four-wheel drive. Its rugged exterior styling featured 19-inch wheels that filled the muscular-looking flared wheel well openings. Occupants set in lightweight carbon-fiber-backed racing seats, and were held in place by full harness restraints.
Volvo planned on launching its first sport utility vehicle within the next two years; so it presented concept versions at the 2001 show to assess public reaction to new ideas. One prototype, called Adventure Concept Car (ACC) was a four-passenger luxury SUV, with a built-in refrigerator, TV and a world-class audio unit. Sitting high off the ground, the ACC exterior design gave a glimpse at the overall appearance of the 2003 Volvo XC90 production model.
A surprising prototype at the 2001 show was the Volvo Safety Concept Car (SCC), which featured innovating passive safety ideas. The driver could see through the A-posts, which used see-through Plexiglas in a steel box construction, and the B-posts curved inwards at the top for unobstructed field of vision to the offset rear. Embedded in the door mirrors and rear bumper were sensors that alerted the driver of approaching traffic in the "blind spot" to the offset rear.