The 1990 Chicago Auto Show offered visitors a glimpse of the 1991 model Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicle, successor to the Bronco II. Mazda, which shared several vehicle designs with Ford, launched a Ford-built, Explorer-like Navajo sport-utility at the show. Also seen at the 82nd edition of the nation's largest auto show was the Volkswagen Corrado. Equipped with a supercharged "G-Charger" engine, the four-passenger replacement for the Scirocco featured an "active" rear spoiler that extended automatically above 45 mph. Toyota's new Lexus luxury division launched its flagship sedan that year, and Plymouth displayed the futuristic Voyager III concept vehicles. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley was a popular figure at the annual show, and just like his dad, Richard J. Daley, would sign his autograph for young fans.
A photograph of the main entrance to the 1990 Chicago Auto Show just hours before crowds would begin to arrive for the 82nd annual show. The automotive extravaganza ran for 10 days, with a total of 981,343 visitors that year. Note the auto-show poster, which features a silhouette of the Chicago skyline.
Wide shot down a main aisle on the upper level of McCormick Place East before the official opening of the 82nd Chicago Auto Show. Several Fords are seen on the left side, with glimpses of Chevrolet vehicles on the right.
Wide view of the Buick exhibit before the opening of the 1990 Chicago Auto Show. The scene is on the upper level of McCormick Place East, and includes a new Buick LeSabre Custom sedan in the foreground.
Mayor Richard M. Daley (center) eyes a Corvettes ZR-1 in the Chevrolet exhibit during his walk-around tour of the 1990 show. It marked his first show appearance as the Mayor. With the Mayor are auto show executives (left to right) Jerry Cizek, Lee Weinman and Ronnie Colosimo.
An elegant exhibit for the exotic Lamborghini Diablo at its world debut during the 1990 Chicago Auto Show. Note that the supercar was owned by Chrysler from 1987 through 1994. Volkswagen currently has control of the ultra high-performance automobile brand.
Toyota added a luxury division to complete with European and U.S. luxury nameplates. The Lexus LS400 was the top of the line sedan, the ES was the Camry-based midsize companion. Another highlight for Toyota was the introduction of its Previa mini van at the 1990 Chicago Auto Show.
A red 300ZX Turbo sport coupe sits on a raised platform inside the Nissan exhibit. A sign proclaimed that the sports car was named "Import Car of the Year" by Motor Trend magazine. The turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine developed 300 horsepower. Behind the platform is a gray Sentra two-door sedan.
Sitting on a slightly raised platform at Volkswagen's display area is a bright yellow Corrado sport coupe, billed as VW's "first full-blooded sports" and replacing the Scirocco. A supercharged 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine developed 158 horsepower. Portions of other Volkswagen models are visible, including a white Passat sedan--new in 1990--beneath a VW logo at left.
A white Thunderbird coupe sits near the center of the 1990 Ford exhibit. At the same 1990 Chicago Auto Show, Ford introduced a successor to the Bronco II, called the '91 Explorer. A Mazda version is titled Navajo.
A mid-size Taurus sedan is pictured at right in this scene at Ford's display space. Protruding into the picture in the left foreground is a white Thunderbird coupe. A driver's airbag went into Taurus models this year, and anti-lock brakes became optional.
The back end of an Integra LS sedan, restyled for 1990, occupies the right foreground of this scene at Acura's lower-level exhibit space. But the featured attraction--positioned along the outer wall--is a McLaren Honda Formula 1 world championship racing car.
A white 318is coupe is the only vehicle in this scene at the exhibit for German-made BMW automobiles. To its left is a display of a BMW engine on a stand.
Nissan's new luxury division introduced an M30 coupe and convertible for 1990, along with the new Q45 luxury sedan. Pictured in this scene at the Infiniti display space is a red M30 convertible, sitting on a raised, decorated platform. A 3.0-liter V-6 engine was mounted longitudinally in the rear-drive coupe and sedan. Sonar Suspension used an ultrasonic sensor to trace road surfaces and adjust shock-absorber damping accordingly.
"Grace under pressure," states a sign in the exhibit for Sterling sedans, which were produced in Britain from the same design as the Acura Legend. A white notchback sedan is in the foreground, and a hatchback is on a raised platform. Sterling's 2.7-liter V-6 engine developed 160 horsepower.
Traditional-minded four-wheel-drive sport-utility buyers often opted for the upright-profiled Jeep Cherokee, pictured at the Jeep/Eagle truck exhibit space on the lower level. This red example has Laredo trim (a $3492 option). A sign toward the rear promotes the Jeep Renegade, said to be arriving in fall 1990.
A new company attempted to join the sport-utility market at this time: La Forza. Two examples are pictured in this scene at the lower-level space taken by Motor Tech, which promised sales, service, and parts. Styling was markedly more rounded than on most SUVs, as revealed by these two models: one white and one red. La Forza hung on for a while, but never quite managed to become a contender.
Three examples of the modern-day Avanti can be seen in this lavish display on the lower level. Now under the control of J.J. Cafaro, the Avanti company turned out a convertible (shown in front) as well as a coupe, and even a 4-door sedan--which stretched the profile of the original Studebaker Avanti (built in 1963-64) to its limit. Small numbers of Avantis continued to be sold, but Cafaro's enterprise, having moved from its original location in South Bend, Indiana to Youngstown, Ohio, was not destined to last much longer.
The vehicle in front looks like a circa-1934 coupe modified for street-rod driving in the 1950s, but the white machine with red decorative flames is a reproduction, complete with "suicide" (rear-hinged) doors. Note the neoclassic red convertible at left, in the adjoining display space for Classic Motor Carriages.
Wheels, wheels, and more wheels--plus a handful of tires. That's what is on display at the space for Lucas Tire & Auto Care Centers.
Poised on an elevate platform In the center of the Cadillac exhibit for 1990, was the Aurora concept car, billed as an "international high performance sedan." Under the hood was a traverse Allante 200 horsepower 4.5 liter V-8, connected to a four speed automatic and all-wheel drive with four-wheel traction control. Aurora’s soft-wedge-shape four-passenger body featured a sunroof with adjustable tint. Though Cadillac never used the Aurora name on a production model, the Oldsmobile Aurora four-door sedan was built from 1995 through 2000.
The Daytona R/T, which was based on the 1990 Dodge Daytona model, provided a sneak peek of near-future production models. Covering all--wheel drive technology and Chrysler's 2.2 liter VNT (Variable Nozzle Turbo) high performance engine was a look that Dodge called "a shape created by muscle sheet metal." Styling cues included an integrated "whale tail," flush glass, a glass roof, aggressive ground effects and boldly flared front and rear fenders.
The Dodge Viper RT/10 concept car was a huge hit at both the 1989 and 1990 Chicago Auto Show -- so much so that it went into production for model year 1992. Spokespeople at the show explained the spiritual ties to the ''60s AC Cobra 427, this brute-force sports car boasted a big-block 8.0 liter V-10 engine and a strictly functional open cockpit.
Featuring the cab-forward design philosophy popular at Chrysler Corp. during the 1990s, the Optima concept sedan was the most popular display in the Eagle exhibit area. Its aerodynamic body and custom five-spoke rims were painted in a three-coat pearlescent white. Complementing Optima’s iridescent exterior, the five-passenger cabin was upholstered in quartz (light) gray, highlighted by blue accents. Power was supplied to all four-wheels through an experimental, 32-valve all-aluminum V-8. The 112-inch wheelbase on the Eagle Optima was one-inch shorter than the 1990 Chrysler Concorde.
Two GMC pickup truck design studies were given a glitzy exhibit at the 1990 Chicago Auto Show. The Hollywood premiere-style display highlighted the unique styling features and custom paint schemes of the dynamic duo. Finished in raspberry over magenta colors, the GMC Transcend is on the left. Its most notable features were the cab and bed sections merged into a single unit, and a remote-controlled retractable hardtop roof. Complementing the exterior, the two-seat cockpit was upholstered in raspberry and black leather and cloth. Transcend was based on the Sierra full-size truck chassis. On the right, is the GMC Mahlo convertible pickup concept based on the upcoming 1991 Sonoma compact truck. A three-tone paint job included the coral body that was accented by a diagonal sea-spray design in seafoam green, edged in white. Lowered body wore special ground effects, rear spoiler, bed cover, custom mirrors and front air dam. Two-seat cockpit color scheme was a continuation of the exterior combination.
Nissan described its concept truck, the Gobi as "revolutionary," styled by Nissan Design International in San Diego, CA. The objective was to create an entry-level vehicle with a "helicopter--style" cab and a cargo bed with folding sides for easy loading. It also had four storage compartments below the bed.
On a raised platform is the Plymouth Voyager III concept vehicle, created with separating front and back modular units. Three passengers could ride in the smaller car that was powered by a 1.6-liter propane-fuel engine. The 4-wheel rear section was equipped with a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder, and when the front and rear units were connected, there was room for 8-adults passengers.
Subaru's concept SRD-1 station wagon dominated the scene in the Japanese automaker's exhibit. Called an innovative "dream machine" for the '90s and beyond," the SRD-1 featured a short nose and long 8-passenger compartment. Seats folded in different directions to make the most efficient use of cargo space. Power was supplied to the all-wheel drive system via a 3.3-liter 6-cylinder engine.