With the new, larger McCormick Place South building under construction nearby, the 1996 Chicago Auto Show was the last to be held at McCormick Place on the shores of Lake Michigan. At the '96 show, three official debuts were held for the general public, rather than for media only: the 1997 Oldsmobile Cutlass sedan; the Acura RL sedan and the Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible. A number of innovations were also displayed during the 88th Chicago Auto Show. Cadillac promoted GM's OnStar driver assistance system. Lincoln introduced the RESCU assistance system and SecuriTire run-flat system. Ford's Triton V-10 engine was showcased in the 'Chicane' concept van.
Photograph of the main indoor entrances of McCormick Place just hours before the public opening of the 88th edition of the Chicago Auto Show. The show was held Feb.10-18, 1996. Record-setting 993,646 visitors attended that year, and the Charity Preview raises $850,000.
Special exhibit in the lobby of McCormick Place, displayed the brand new 1997 F-150, which was an official vehicle for the 1996 Chicago show.
Pontiac previewed its redesigned 1997 Grand Prix at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show at a press conference by bringing in NASCAR car owner Richard Petty (in hat) who would field the race cars that season. Petty was introduced by Pontiac General Manager John Middlebrook. Petty retired as a driver after the 1992 season with 200 wins, still the most of any driver on the Cup circuit.
A long view down the center aisle on the main level of McCormick Place East before the doors were opened to the 88th edition of the Chicago Auto Show. At the front of the Ford exhibit (left) is a Mustang coupe, while arch-rival Chevrolet on the right is ready to greet crowds with its Camaro.
Two of Chevrolet's hottest cars for 1996, the Impala SS and Corvette Grand Sport coupe, were featured in the Chevrolet exhibit.
For 1996, Motor Trend magazine award their 'Car of the Year' award to the Dodge Caravan. In the foreground, left side, is an enormous replica of the Motor Trend's gold-tone caliper and gear award, which is holding-up a full-size Caravan. The hood of the Caravan is partially cut-away to show engine and suspension. Mid-photo, is a blue with white striped Chrysler Viper GTS.
A high and deep view of the 1996 BMW exhibit on the main floor. In the foreground is a 328is coupe. The large graphic billboard in the background is about the Z3 roadster.
Simple but tasteful Jaguar XJ6 sedan display is part of the British manufacturer's exhibit during the 1996 Chicago Auto Show.
Various models, including the 3000GT and Eclipse, fill the colorful display in the Mitsubishi exhibit. In the background, left side is the 3000GT Spyder VR-4, featuring a computer-controlled retractable hardtop. The convertible on the right is the new Eclipse convertible, the Spyder GS-T.
One of the most interesting exhibit at the show, was Nissan's metal forest motif. These tall trees were positioned between the various car models, creating a wonderful atmosphere. In the foreground is a front view of the 240SX coupe. In the background, the new Pathfinder is featured as part of a large display.
One of the favorite exotic production cars at the show, are Porsche models. Shown in a close-up view, sitting on a revolving platform, is a burgundy Turbo.
Featured on a simulated road surfaces inside the Saab exhibit is the SE Turbo convertible. On the right, partially block, is a front view of the Saab 9000 Aero model, and on the left is a 900 SE Turbo.
Posed on top of an archway that crosses over the main aisle of the Volkswagen exhibit, is the limited production, multi-colored Golf four-door hatchback. In the foreground, is a Golf two-door hatchback. The large horizontal photo on the right, illustrates the VW advertising tag line, "On the road of life there are passengers and there are drivers."
Front and center in the Volvo exhibit, is an 850 four-door sedan. Notice the colorful photographic scenery under the car, and the panoramic outdoor scene on the wide Volvo sign above and behind the car.
A full-size clay model of the Suburban four-door is displayed in the GMC exhibit. Separated only by a glass partitions, people could get closer to the vehicle and walk completely around it.
In 1996, the Dodge Ram pickup was the official truck for the Indy 500 race. To commemorate this honor, Dodge issued a special "Ram Indy 500 " limited-edition model. Shown on a raised platform, is an example of this blue with white-stripped model.
Popular display at the 1996 Jeep exhibit, was the cut-a-way 1997 Wrangler model. The new Wrangler is tilted forward, so that more of the exposed areas can be viewed, including the 4.0L inline six-cylinder engine. Note the small television screens that are spaced around the base of the exhibit and imbedded into the artificial rock formation.
Land Rover's display took the form of a rain forest, complete with misty air. The lineup of British-built sport-utilities included the Land Rover Discovery and Defender 90, as well as two versions of the Range Rover.
Displayed on an eye-catching orange and yellow rotating platform, is the brand new Suzuki X-90. This small, sporty two-seat 4x4 vehicle was offered only as a two-door, and powered by a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine that produced 95 horsepower and 98 lb.-ft. of torque. It was part of the Suzuki truck exhibit on the lower level of McCormick Place East.
A new mini sport-utility vehicle for the U.S.A., the RAV-4, is on display in the Toyota truck exhibit. A large freestanding space divider /Toyota sign sits near the RAV-4. The name RAV-4 stands for "Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-Wheel Drive."
The custom T-shirt booth is very popular at the annual show. These shirts were offered with choice of iron-on decals, and original airbrush artwork. A customer could chose his favorite vehicle from hundreds of full color car illustrations, which were permanently pressed onto a shirt. Also offered was the option to have a name airbrushed along with the artwork. Original airbrushed T-shirts were done on request.
In celebration of the Wienermobile's sixtieth anniversary, the Oscar Mayer Meat Company had a special exhibit during the auto show. One of the latest versions of the Wienermobile is shown in this photo.
In celebration of the Wienermobile's sixtieth anniversary, the Oscar Mayer Meat Company had an interesting exhibit during the auto show. Various Oscar Mayer memorabilia and historic photos were on display. During the run of the show, free Wienermobile whistles were handed out.
Located on the lower level, in a booth that included signs for The Sound Advantage, and Budget Rent-A-Car, was a solar energy powered car. The sign on top of the vehicle states, " Souvenir Photos, Help The March of Dimes, Race The Sun, Fight Birth Defects." "Race the Sun," was a TriStar motion picture that told the story of high school students who built and raced a car, powered by the sun, across the Australian continent. The team's car was known as the "Cockroach." A life-size cardboard cut-out of actor Jim Belushi, who starred in the movie, is also part of the display.
Scene at the display booth for the City of Chicago Department of Transportation, which notes that Richard M. Daley is the Mayor. It also states that Thomas R. Walker is the Commissioner. A Chicago police motorcycle is at the front of the booth, and a sign promoting CAPS, part of the Chicago Police Department Traffic Safety and Training Unit, is on the far left. A traffic signal and many photos are on display,
After being introduced as a concept car in 1993, Plymouth's Prowler made production status as a 1997 model. The production version was shown at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show. It differed little from the concept version with radical open front wheels with cycle fenders and seating for two. Also like the concept, it featured V-6 power instead of V-8 the public wanted. This would hurt Prowler sales in the years to come.
The second generation Dodge Intrepid appeared at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show in concept form. Called the Dodge Intrepid ESX, the dream car featured an all aluminum body and was constructed by Reynard Racing Cars in Great Britain. Ahead of its time in more than styling, it featured a hybrid propulsion system with a three-cylinder diesel and two electric motors for a combined rating of 245 horsepower. When the production Intrepid bowed for the 1998 model year, it was rather sedate by comparison, with only a V-6 gas engine.
The Ford Econoline Chicane with its new V-10 engine is introduced at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show on the seventh of February. The tricked-out concept van was created to be a support vehicle for motorcycle racing teams .
Imagine a street-legal Indy-style performance car, and you have the V-12 Indigo. Ford engineers used carbon-fiber and aluminum for the chassis, and carbon-fiber body panels to achieve the 2,300-pound weight. An example of the hand-built, 435 horsepower, six-liter V-12 engine is displayed in the foreground. Manual shifting was via a button on the Nardi steering wheel. Up front, the wheels were exposed, and the bumper serves as a wing. Dramatic swing-up doors gave access to the Formula One inspired, two-seater interior.
Honda proudly displayed a new sports car concept called the SSM (Sport Study Model) during the 1996 Chicago Auto Show. Power to the rear wheels was supplied by the front-mounted, 2.0 liter, twin-cam five-cylinder VTEC engine. The two-seat cockpit had contoured bucket seats, wraparound instrument cluster and body-colored roll bars. Importantly, the SSM roadster predicted the shape of the future (2000) Honda S2000 production model.
A focal point of the 1996 Toyota exhibit was the MRJ mid-engine, 2+2 sportster concept. The MRJ was displayed to gauge public reaction for a proposed successor of the second generation MR2. Unique retractable hardtop roof raised and lowered electrically, and the MRJ offered enhanced agility with its four-wheel steering system and fully independent suspension. Performance was supplied by a mid-engine, DOHC 20-valve 1.8 liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing and 170 horsepower. The four-passenger cabin could be reconfigured with the rear seats folded down or pushed-up to create an unexpectedly large luggage space.
Toyota launched a mini-size sport-utility vehicle for 1996, dubbed RAV4 (Recreational Activity Vehicle with 4-wheel drive). The auto show display included a battery-powered version dramatically posed on a tilted platform. Toyota, like other auto companies in the late 1990s were expanding research into non-petroleum powered vehicles.