This year, the Chicago Auto Show expanded to 1.2 million square feet, which was more than 40 percent since the 2004 event. New exhibitors included Chicago's own International Truck, featuring its CXT concept. Also new was a 20,000 sq.ft. exhibit by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep featured simulated off-road trails, dirt hill and test tracks within the South Hall. More than a dozen exciting concept vehicles at the '05 show included the Ford SYNus, Jeep Hurricane, Lexus LF-A, Mercury Meta One, Chrysler Firepower, Jaguar Advanced Lightweight Coupe and Suzuki Concept-X.
Don Esmond, senior vice president and general manager, Toyota Division, unveiled the all-new FJ Cruiser sport utility vehicle at a Feb. 9, 2005 Chicago Auto Show press conference. Inspired by the legendary FJ 40 model from the 1960s into the 1980s, the 2007 FJ Cruiser was based on a modified 4Runner platform. Power was supplied by a 4.0 liter V-6, generating 245 horsepower paired with a five-speed automatic on both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and an available six-speed manual on 4x4 models. The FJ Cruiser came with 17 inch steel wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, locking rear differential and traction control.
Kia selected the 2005 Chicago Auto Show to debut its 2006 Sedona minivan. Standard engine is a 3.8-liter V-6 that produces 240 horsepower. A five-speed automatic transmission drives the power to the front wheels and four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are included. With increased performance and decreased curb weight, the Sedona has quicker acceleration. Redesigned cabin features a gear selector mounted to the instrument panel, optional faux wood trim, leather and one-handed flip-and-fold second-row captain's chairs. Safety highlights contain six standard airbags that protect in all three rows of seats.
Cadillac held its world debut of the 2006 DTS full-size luxury sedan at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show. Replacing the DeVille, the front-wheel-drive DTS offered a Northstar 4.6 liter V-8, available as a 290-horsepower L37 or 275hp LD8. Each came mated to the Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic transmission. Redesigned, the interior contained dual-firmness seats with an additional inch of travel. Front seats were heated and cooled, the rear seats heated, as was the steering wheel and windshield washer fluid. DTS also had Adaptive Remote Start, front and rear ultrasonic park assist; IntelliBeam automatic high-beam headlights and six air bags, including an industry-first dual depth front passenger air bag.
Steven Saleen speaks to the media at the Chicago show seconds before he unveiled the 2005 Saleen S281 Extreme, which is based on the Ford Mustang. The S281 Extreme boasts 500 horsepower, a tire-ripping 480 ft.-lbs torque and 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds from the 281 cubic inch V-8. A Saleen-designed Series VI integrated Twin Screw supercharger with two-stage water-to-air intercooling is standard equipment. A heavy-duty six speed manual transmission, balanced driveshaft and Saleen MaxGrip differential all get the ponies to the pavement. Standard on the S281 Extreme are Pirelli P-Zero Rossos with 275/35ZR20s up front and 275/40ZR20s bringing up the rear.
Moments after Steven Saleen unveiled the 2005 Saleen S281 Extreme, he takes questions from the media. Based on the Ford Mustang, the S281 Extreme boasts 500 horsepower, a tire-ripping 480 ft.-lbs torque and 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds from the 281 cubic inch V-8. A Saleen-designed Series VI integrated Twin Screw supercharger with two-stage water-to-air intercooling is standard equipment. A heavy-duty six-speed manual transmission, balanced driveshaft and Saleen MaxGrip differential all get the ponies to the pavement. Standard on the S281 Extreme are Pirelli P-Zero Rossos with 275/35ZR20s up front and 275/40ZR20s bringing up the rear.
People attending the Chicago show had the opportunity to take rides with professional drivers in DaimlerChrysler vehicles on simulated off-road trails and inclines situated on the show floor. Ironically, the very first Chicago Auto Show in 1901 featured a track where visitors could take rides to learn what the automobile was all about.
Visitors to the Chicago Auto Show saw the release of the new 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, rated the most powerful production General Motors car to date. Hand-built by GM's Performance Build Center, the new 500 horsepower aluminum 427-cid Gen IV small-block V-8 used titanium rods and intake valves. Top speed was 190 mph with 0-to-60 in less than four seconds. The wider body broke from Corvette fiberglass tradition and was constructed of aluminum and carbon-fiber composite front fenders and wheel housings. The ZO6 carried on a tradition of ultra-high performance Corvettes that dates back to the 1963 Gran Sport.
A master engine builder from AMG, the high-performance division of Mercedes-Benz, demonstrated his skills at assembling the 604 horsepower, V-12 AMG engine from start to finish, right on the floor of the 2005 Chicago Auto Show. The live demonstration celebrated the launch of the new S65 AMG and revealed the ‘One Man, One Engine’ philosophy employed at the AMG headquarters in Affalterbach, Germany.
Celebrating the return of the Dodge Charger to the Daytona International Speedway after a 27-year hiatus was the limited-production 2006 Charger Daytona R/T. Distinguishing the Daytona R/T model was a fascia with a chin spoiler, black honeycomb grille; black 'Daytona' and 'HEMI' decals, signature heritage R/T badging, black rear decklid spoiler and 18-inch polished wheels. A 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 engine with 350 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque came standard, mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick. The interior featured performance front seats with suede inserts and embroidered Daytona logos on the headrests. Custom exterior colors included the 1970 MoPar high-impact Go ManGo! and Top Banana.
Introduced at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show, the 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab laid claim to the largest cab in its field. It was the latest answer to the demand by consumers for more passenger space along with increased hauling capacity. The new cab was 111.1 inches long and had 145.2 cubic feet of interior space, enough to comfortably seat six adults. Available in the Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 series, the Ram Mega Cab offered a choice of 345-horsepower Hemi V-8 or 5.9L, inline-six Cummins turbo-diesel, producing 325 horses. Towing rating was 15,800 pounds. The Ram Mega Cab models arrived at Dodge dealerships in the fall of 2005.
With its 5.7 liter 605 horsepower V-10 engine, the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT boasted guided missile performance. Carbon fiber reinforced composite body panels kept the weight down and the speed up.
An example of the 2006 Eclipse coupe is highlighted on a slanted turntable inside the Mitsubishi exhibit. With its taut body that pushes the aerodynamic envelope to beautiful extremes, the next-generation production model incorporates design elements first seen on the Eclipse Concept-E that appeared during the 2004 Chicago show. The 2006 Eclipse offers more powerful 4 and V-6 engines than previous models, with up to 260 horsepower. Available with five-speed Sportronic or six-speed manual transmission, the sporty coupe rides on 18-inch wheels. New for 2006, an entertainment package consists of a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with six-CD in-dash changer, MP3 playback, and nine speakers with a 10-inch subwoofer.
Mercury displayed the 2006 Milan five-passenger mid-size sedan at the 2005 show. Named after Milan, Italy, the five-passenger automobile featured a chiseled body, satin aluminum trim, waterfall grille, and light-emitting diode (LED) taillights. Milan interiors were available with two-tone leather seats and either satin metallic or Wales Mahogany wood trim finishes. Its 15.6-cubic-foot trunk boasts a flat load floor and low lift over height. Standard was a 160 horsepower 2.3 liter Duratec inline four-cylinder engine linked to either a five-speed manual or automatic, while an optional 3.0L Duratec V-6 pumped out 210 horses through an advanced six-speed automatic transaxle.
Buick premiered the 2006 Lucerne entry-level luxury sedan at the 2005 Chicago show. Lucerne replaced the LeSabre name, which has been in the Buick lineup since the 1959 models. The five-and six-passenger four-door Lucerne came standard with a 195 horsepower V-6. An optional 4.6L 32-valve dual overhead cam V-8 engine developed 275 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. This made Lucerne the first Buick sedan since the 1996 Roadmaster to offer V-8 power. It was also the first Buick offering Magnetic Ride Control, paired with StabiliTrak, to enhance ride performance. A total of six air bags came standard, including an industry-first dual depth front passenger air bag.
Appearing at the 2005 auto show was the 2006 Chevrolet HHR, featuring retro styling reminiscent of the second series 1947 and first series 1955 Suburban Carryall utility wagon. Design cues included a high roof, deep-draw, flared fenders and a one-piece stamped metal hood. Built on the same small car structure as the 2005 Cobalt, the five-passenger HHR had an overall length of 174.5 inches and a cargo capacity of approximately 63.1 cubic feet. Available in two model levels: LS and LT, the HHR offered 140 horsepower 2.2 liter and 170 hp 2.4L four-cylinder engines. Each model was available with either the standard Getrag five-speed manual or optional Hydra-Matic electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmissions. The HHR models arrived at Chevy dealerships in the fall of 2005.
On display in the Honda exhibit was a special cutaway version of the 2006 Ridgeline four-door pickup truck and a fully assembled Ridgeline in the background. Ridgeline is Honda's first half-ton payload truck in North America and introduces the industry's first fully integrated, closed-box frame with unibody construction. A steel reinforced, five-foot, composite truck bed (6.5 feet with tailgate down) features an 8.5 cu.-ft. lockable and water resistant in-bed trunk. The five-passenger Ridgeline came equipped with a 255 horsepower 3.5 liter SOHC VTEC V-6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, and fully automatic four-wheel drive system and 5,000-pound towing capacity. Standard safety items included four-wheel anti-lock brakes, side curtain airbags and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control.
All new for 2006, the Infiniti M35 and M45 four-door luxury sedan featured muscular proportions, and lively performance. The M45 came equipped with the 4.5 liter DOHC V-8 currently used in the Infiniti Q45 and FX45. This version pumped out 335-340 horsepower. A 3.5L DOHC V-6 producing 280 hp in the M35. Both the M45 V-8 and M35 V-6 came mated to a five-speed automatic transmission with short-throw performance shifter and manual shift mode. The Rear Active Steer system improves handling performance by adjusting the geometry of the rear according to steering input and vehicle speed, and Land Departure Warning (LDW) technology helps alert the driver of a pending, unintended lane departure.
For only $400,000, plus change, you could've bought an SLR McLaren with Mercedes styling; formula 1 technology and AMG performance. The supercharged V-8 developed 617 horsepower and a top speed of 208 mph.
Many manufacturers in the near-luxury and luxury market have a performance auxiliary that provides visual and mechanical upgrades available off the showroom floor. For Acura, "A-Spec" fills that bill. The A-Spec concept from 2005 was based on the newly- introduced '05 RL sedan. Available upgrades included a redone, sloping front clip, fender flares, reshaped rocker panels, new rear spoiler, restyled rear bumper, 20-inch alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber. A revised performance suspension, Brembo brakes and drilled rotors were added. Inside the cockpit were premium leather material, a two-tone headliner, wood steering wheel and wood shift knob trim.
Starting life as a pre-production 2006 Chevrolet HHR, the auto show custom version was modified by GM designers and West Coast Customs in Los Angeles. Riding on 18-inch Givoanna Rims, the body was sprayed silver with a blue pearl coat, featuring unique front and rear bumpers, a chopped roof, shaved door and rear hatch handles. Throughout the cockpit, the silver/blue exterior color was repeated, accenting the four-suede and leather two-tone bucket seats. A 10-inch monitor was molded in the dash with touch screen computer system. Flowing down the center of the passenger compartment was a custom console that houses 10 seven-inch monitors and four 10-inch WCC Orion subwoofers.
Chrysler Group’s superstar for the '05 Chicago show was the Firepower concept, which combined taut coupe styling with a Viper-like chassis design and new 425 horsepower, 6.1-liter Hemi V-8. The result was a rear-wheel drive, grand tourer that had an estimated 0-60 mph time of less than 4.5 seconds and top speed of 175 mph. Other components included special suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, five-speed AutoStick transmission, plus 19-inch front and 20-inch rear wheels. Inside the Ocean Deep Blue two-passenger cockpit was Oyster leather and Behr maple accent, which beautifully balanced the Hydro Silver Pearl exterior.
Carroll Shelby, renowned race driver and father of the original 1960’s Shelby Cobras, consulted on Ford’s Shelby GR-1 (‘Group Racing’) supercar concept. The polished aluminum body fastback prototype featured butterfly doors, and two-seat race-inspired interior. An aluminum-block 6.4-liter V-10 with 605 horsepower and 501 foot-pounds of torque came mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a Ford GT-type suspension. A tapered Kamm tail improved wind drag, highlighted by an integrated transmission cooler, ground-effects venturi and vertical taillights. Unique hood with twin portals bring air into the engine compartment, while additional intakes and vents perforated the side body surface to ensure cooling throughout. Twin fuel fillers fed two individual 10-gallon fuel tanks. The Shelby GR-1 rolled on 19-inch, one-piece 12-spoke BBS milled aluminum wheels wrapped in Goodyear Z-rated racing slicks.
GMC displayed the Graphyte concept vehicle at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show, representing a refined SUV with all the capability expected in a four-wheel-drive truck. The midsize Graphyte featured a two-mode full hybrid combined with a Vortec 5300 V-8 with Displacement on Demand (DoD) technology. A tailored design took GMC’s design language to new levels of elegance, incorporating strong truck cues, such as minimal overhangs, tight wheel-to-fender openings, and a sleeker, more aerodynamic appearance including an elegant, metal-framed grille. From its commanding driving position, the Graphyte’s interior had a crafted, airy environment that was enhanced by the large skylights. Mokanto wood veneer, as well as anodized and polished aluminum trim, and Spiral Grey leather upper sections accented the tan five-passenger interior. It was designed and built at the GM Advanced Studio in Coventry, England.
Jeep’s Hurricane concept must be the most maneuverable and powerful 4x4 ever built. Equipped with two 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines: one in the front and one in the back, there was a total of 670 horsepower and 740 lb-ft of torque available on demand. Two modes of automated four-wheel steering were used, first, the traditional with rear tires turning in the opposite direction of the front. A second mode turned all four-wheels in the same direction for nimble crab-like steering. With 14.3 inches of ground clearance, and 37-inch tall tires, there wasn’t much that the Hurricane couldn’t climb. The black one-piece structural carbon fiber body also formed the chassis, plus suspension and power train were mounted directly to the body. Chrysler Group Multi-Displacement System (MDS) enabled the Hurricane to alternate between 4-, 8-, 12- or 16-cylinders and clock 0-60 mph in less than five-seconds.
Star attraction in the Lexus exhibit was the #01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley Daytona Prototype racing car. On a stand next to the vehicle was the race-modified 4.35-liter (265 CID) version of the production V-8 utilized in the LS, GS and SC models. The 32-valve, DOHC, fuel-injected engine from Toyota Racing Development (TRD), U.S.A., Inc. has an aluminum block and cylinder heads, producing 500 horsepower and 11:1 compression ratio. In its first season, the Lexus V-8 powered racing car driven by Scott Pruett and Max Papis won the 2004 Rolex Sports Car Series title.
A sensation at the 2005 Chicago Auto Show was the ultra high-performance Lexus LF-A concept. The two-seat prototype was theoretically developed to run a parallel course to the corporate efforts in Formula One racing with an engine capable of developing more than 500 horsepower from a displacement of less than 5 liters. With a combination of optimum gearing, weight and aerodynamics, the LF-A concept would produce a top speed in the neighborhood of 200 miles per hour. Although it was about five-inches shorter in length than the Porsche 911 Turbo, its wheelbase was nine-inches longer. The LF-A concept was an indication of the path that Lexus' global design might have followed.
The Azeal Coupe was Nissan’s high performance entry-level sporty car prototype and first concept car created at Nissan Design America (NDA) studios in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Azeal rolled on 19-inch wheels and tires, with a chiseled body that featured short front and rear overhangs, wide fender flares, and a sharply sloped rear roofline with integrated active airfoil. A distinctive glass-panel roof was bisected by a body color ‘Mohawk, ’ and the top includes integrated rails and clips for mounting roof racks. Power was supplied via a turbocharged, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Handsome 2+2 cockpit included "Sinister Gunmetal" instrument panel, contrasted by perforated dark leather seats with Wasabi Chartreuse inserts.
Saturn's Sky Roadster concept is related to the rear- wheel drive Pontiac Solstice sports car. The Saturn Sky features pronounced fender peaks, short overhangs and a wide stance with 18-inch wheels pushed to the corners. Under the steel-bodied clamshell hood lies a 2.4L, 170 horsepower Ecotec inline four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. It's connected to a five-speed Aisin manual transmission with a short throw shifter, or an optional five-speed automatic. Saturn first presented a Sky roadster/convertible concept car during the 2002 Chicago show. Sky was added to the Saturn 2007 model lineup to generate new interest in a division that focused on economy cars.
The FT-SX concept was developed by Calty, Toyota's North American-based, research and design center located in Newport Beach, CA and the TMS Advanced Product Strategy Group. Visually, the FT-SX had a totally new silhouette and package, lower and wider than an SUV, but taller, more comfortable, and more versatile than a sedan. At more than 15-feet in length, over six-feet in width and over five-feet in height, the FT-SX delivered a stance that was both sleek and imposing. Added, were a powerful 3.5-liter V-6, all-wheel drive, two-piece detailed 21-inch wheels, four doors, a large, multi-function glass roof and an innovative rear hatch.
Volkswagen’s development team based the Ragster (ragtop + speedster) concept on the New Beetle convertible. Ragster’s most visible design cue was the drastically dropped roof with the shorten A-pillars and U-shaped roof frame. Though the car looked similar to the New Beetle production model, the fenders, bumpers, headlights, taillights and 19-inch aluminum rims were all newly designed. Racing car bucket seats, sports car type steering wheel with integrated engine start button (right side) and ragtop control (left side), were highlights of the custom cockpit. VW said a powerful gasoline engine or a high torque TDI could propel the Ragster if it were to go beyond the prototype stage.
Volvo Cars in North America teamed with Legoland California to promote driving safety and family values. As part of the sponsorship agreement between the subsidiaries of the two Scandinavian icons, full-size replicas of Volvo’s XC9 SUV were constructed from Lego modeling bricks. Weighing in at 2,930 pounds, the Lego XC90 is hollow, and was built at the Lego offices in Enfield, Connecticut. It took five Lego Model Builders two months to assemble the Lego XC90, using 201,425 bricks. Volvo was the ‘Official Car’ of Legoland theme park in Carlsbad, California.