A total of 973,483 visitors attended the 77th annual Chicago Auto Show, with more than 700 vehicles on exhibit. Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable debut in the ‘windy city’ and
even Ferrari had something new in Chicago that year: a sleek Testarossa, easily identified by the six long horizontal strakes along its bodysides. Taking a different path toward promoting its products, Volvo displayed a crashed sedan at the 1985 Chicago Auto Show. Chevrolet launches a high performance IROC-Z version of Camaro for ’85 with high output V-8. As an attention-getting device, BMW mounted an MPower racing car vertically on a special display platform.
Truck driver Lothar Kielmann checks the condition of the 1985 Ford Thunderbird 30 Year Anniversary Edition he just delivered to be displayed at the 77th annual Chicago Auto Show. Production was to be limited to 5,000 units and start mid-year. Based on the top of the line Thunderbird élan model, it featured instrument panel and decklid badges, ignition keys with profile of the 1955 and 1985 Thunderbirds, floor mats with the anniversary logo, an owners manual holder with a Thunderbird history booklet and a leather jacket for owners with the Thunderbird emblem. It came in Medium Regatta Blue metallic that even covered the grille and was accented by silver trim strips. Inside Bridgeport cloth with blue and charcoal accents carried out the theme.
CATA executive vice-president Ross E. Kelsey (left) talks with Chicago Tribune auto writer Jim Mateja in the auto-show office at McCormick Place.
Automobiles are almost bumper-to-bumper on Northbound Lake Shore Drive as they pass McCormick Place East (on the right). Note the Chicago downtown skyline on the left side of the image.
Auto-show visitors are walking out of a nearby parking lot, approaching an underpass that led to lower level entrance way into McCormick Place. Note the downtown Chicago skyline at the rear of this photo.
Large number of people are lined up in the lobby of McCormick Place, facing away from the camera, waiting to enter the 77th Chicago Auto Show.
Male vendor is selling Official Show Programs in the lobby of McCormick Place, while people in the background are lined up to enter the 77th Chicago Auto Show.
Illinois Secretary of State Jim Edgar (center) and Chicago Mayor Harold Washington (second from right) are holding scissors, ready to cut the ribbon to open the 77th Chicago Auto Show. Standing at far left CATA executive vice-president Ross E. Kelsey, next to CATA president John Mathias. At right, racing away from the camera, is Executive Show Committee chairman Kenneth Bennett.
Illinois Secretary of State Jim Edgar is in the driver's seat of a Merkur XR4Ti coupe, at the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit space. A sign in the background promotes the 1985 Chrysler Laser, at an adjoining display area.
Popular WGN broadcaster Bob Collins (far left), holding a microphone, is speaking to (left to right) CATA executive vice-president Ross E. Kelsey; Executive Show Committee chairman Kenneth Bennett; and CATA president John Mathias. In addition to his WGN radio programming, Collins broadcast a one-hour special from the auto show on WGN-TV. Still active in radio, Collins died in a private plane crash in February 2000.
On a small stage at the Lincoln-Mercury display space, a female presenter is describing a Mercury Sable sedan. A man, also holding a microphone, stands at right. Seen at the 1985 Chicago Auto Show in February, the new mid-size, related to the Ford Taurus, would not go on sale until fall, as a 1985 model.
At Buick's main-floor display space, three unidentified men are standing at a small podium, in front of a crowd. Two are wearing suits; the other is dressed in a red jacket. Behind them is an Electra sedan, on a tilted platform, to demonstrate Buick's latest electronic technology.
A white Mustang GT with dark-blue hood striping has its T-roof panels removable, while on display at Ford's main-floor display space. To its rear is a blue/white Mustang Pace Car. Only portions of other Ford models can be seen toward the rear, along with special engine displays.
Mercury's Cougar gained a Mercedes-style grille this year, as shown by this light-blue example in the foreground of a scene at the Lincoln-Mercury display space. The rear end of another Cougar may be seen toward its rear, on a raised platform. Other models are visible far toward the rear. At right is a main aisle, carpeted in red, of the auto-show's upper level.
Quite a crowd has gathered at Ford's main-floor display space, to hear a woman (holding microphone) extol the virtues of this year's Thunderbird coupe, which exhibited cosmetic changes. "The flight continues," says a small overhead sign.
At left center of this scene at the main-floor display space for AMC Jeeps, a Cherokee Chief station wagon has its tailgate raised. Protruding into the photo at far left is the front end of a red Jeep CJ-7 Laredo. The Renault exhibit space is at right rear.
A two-toned, subcompact Plymouth Horizon hatchback sedan occupies the foreground of this scene at the Chrysler-Plymouth display space. Chrysler described the Horizon as "An American value with European flair." A red Horizon may be seen at left, and a Plymouth Reliant station wagon is at right.
What are all these people looking at, off to the right and out of camera range? Can't say for sure, but it's the Lincoln-Mercury display area. So, it could be the new imported Merkur XR4Ti hatchback, or the coming-for-1986 Mercury Sable.
Facing directly away from the camera, a subcompact Sunbird LE is in the lower left of this scene at Pontiac's main-floor exhibit space. At right is a white, mid-engined Fiero SE two-seat coupe. At far left is an example of the new compact Grand Am. Portions of the Ford and Chevrolet exhibit spaces can be seen across the aisle.
Built in Germany, a red Bitter coupe appeared in a lower-level display space at the Chicago Auto Show. Behind it is a Bitter sedan. Note the concealed headlights. The little-known Bitter company was attempting to capture attention for its new models.
Chicago White Sox baseball team mascot Roobarb hams it up for our camera during the 1985 Chicago Auto Show. Both Ribbie & Roobarb appeared in the Chrysler-Plymouth exhibits at the 1984 and '85 shows, and were tremendous hits, especially with the kids. Tom Wilger was the shaggy orange Roobarb, and Bob Wrobel the seven-foot tall purple Ribbie.
A red Spider Veloce roadster sits on a raised round platform at the lower-level display space for Alfa Romeo, the Italian manufacturer of sports cars. This year, Alfa Romeo introduced a lower-priced version of the Veloce named the Graduate, to commemorate the car that Dustin Hoffman had driven in the 1967 movie of that name. "Graduate" models turned out to be quite popular over the next few years. Two other Alfas may be seen toward the rear, including a GTV-6 coupe (somewhat fuzzy in this photo) at right.
A red Biturbo coupe occupies the foreground of this scene at the lower-level exhibit space for the Italian Maserati company. Another Biturbo coupe sits toward the left, and three additional models may be seen toward the rear and right. As its name suggests, the Biturbo used a twin-turbo engine. Biturbos came in coupe, convertible, and sedan form. Maserati also offered a larger Quattroporte sedan.
A young female gymnast walks on the balance beam on a special stage set up at Nissan's display area. Gymnasts demonstrating their skills for the crowd during the Chicago Auto Show included two members of the U.S. Olympic team: Tim Daggett and Lydia Bree. A portion of a red Nissan 200SX hatchback coupe can be seen on the stage.
A two-passenger MR2 sport coupe dominates the foreground of this scene at Toyota's main-floor exhibit space. Evolved from an SV-3 prototype, the MR2 arrived at U.S. dealerships in February 1985--right at the time of the Chicago Auto Show. Angular styling gave the MR2 a different look than conventional sports cars. Additional Toyotas may be seen toward the rear, including a Corolla Liftback coupe at left, on a raised platform, and another MR2 on the center platform.
A Ramcharger sport-utility vehicle is featured in this scene at the Dodge Truck display area, on the lower level of McCormick Place. Ramchargers could have either two- or four-wheel drive, with a standard 318-cid (5.2-liter) V-8 engine that produced 120 horsepower. Additional Dodge trucks may be seen farther toward the rear.
Lavish is the word for this big red neo-classic coupe, featuring dual covered sidemounted spare tires, exposed exhaust pipes, external horns, uniquely-positioned headlamps, and considerable brightwork. The fiberglass-bodied car was produced by Classic Motor Carriages in Miami, Florida. Two prices are shown on the window sticker: $44,990 and $39,990. Classic Motor Carriages also produced kit cars.
Don't look for one of these oddly-shaped red sport coupes on the used car lots. It's a Tojan coupe, one of many specialty machines that appeared at the Chicago Auto Show in an attempt to drum up interest among enthusiasts.
A red/white/blue open-wheel racing car is in the foreground of this scene at the exhibit space for the Sports Car Club of America (Chicago Region), in the lobby of McCormick Place. Three other racing vehicles may be seen toward the rear, including one open car marked "Renault" and two lightly-modified, closed models.
A highly-modified coupe dragster with a hugely long hood is in the foreground of this scene at one of the special exhibit areas in the lobby of McCormick Place. Three other racing vehicles are visible toward the rear, including a rail-stype dragster at right.
Disabled drivers had an alternative choice on the market, with vans converted by Adaptive Products. A sign in the window of the Dodge Ram van in the foreground, equipped with a raised roof and renamed Activan, promises a "show special" price of $16,500. A larger Dodge van is at right. The company was located in Villa Park, Illinois.
Based on an English Lola T600 chassis and supplied with a turbocharged 3.8 liter V-6, the mid-engine Corvette GTP prototype was developed to compete in the International Motor Sports Association’s GT racing series. Producing more than 750 horsepower, the GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) was equipped with active suspension system and carbon brakes. The GTP, painted red over silver for 1985, was first displayed at the 1984 Chicago show with a white over silver body.
As a special exhibit at the 1985 Chicago show, Ford displayed the Ghia Vignale prototype coupe. Based on the Mustang SVD platform, the Ghia Vignale featured Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive. Mounted below the front bumper was the radiator intake that was connected to a 176 horsepower, 2.3 liter four-cylinder with turbocharged and intercooler. Up front the windshield had a single wiper and the headlights were a low profile design.
American Motors created the Cherokee Targa concept vehicle for the 1985 auto show season. The roofless, two-door prototype featured a rollbar behind the front seats, special paint scheme, plus, unique front, side, and rear body fascia.
No Toyota quite like this ever made it to production. Or did it? At the 1985 Chicago Auto Show, exhibited this striking FX-1 experimental prototype, which was actually a prototype for the coming-soon 1986 Supra. Jim Mateja of the Chicago Tribune called the FX-1 a "show-stopper." First seen at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show, the FX-1 went to the Geneva in 1984 and then came to Chicago in 1985. A twin turbo form of the 1G-GE engine supplied power, and the pneumatic suspension could automatically raise and lower the front and rear of the car separately.