19 Feb 2019

Chicago Auto Show: That New Car Smell, Blowin’ In The Wind

The Chicago Auto Show, which has historically been ‘up’ on the show calendar within a few weeks of Detroit’s, has built its own distinct brand based on available show space (the McCormick Convention Center is HUGE), decent media participation and a few notable intros from those OEMs not wanting to blow their budget at the expensive Detroit. In the ‘City of Big Shoulders,’ it remains the stage for what is typically a few interesting, viable intros.

Thirty years ago, Mazda chose Chicago as the entry point of its all-new Miata roadster. And while ‘Chicago’ and ‘February’ aren’t what we think of when thinking Miata, it was a launch that fully reverberated within the enthusiast community. Subsequently, when Mazda introduced a redesign or the inevitable special edition, they did it in Chicago. If you’ve done the math you’ll know that this is the 30th anniversary of the Miata’s launch, and rather than waiting for the 31st anniversary Miata, Mazda introduced an anniversary tribute this year.

Finished in what looks to be a KTM-inspired orange, and limited to but 500 U.S. copies, the limited run was reportedly sold out within a few hours of its introduction. And in a market as crossover-and-SUV-obsessed as this one, the attention we continue to pay the Miata is both surprising and reassuring.

Not yet ready for an anniversary is Alfa Romeo’s 4C, but that didn’t dissuade Alfa Romeo from showing its 4C Italia. Finished in a blue that would easily transport you to the Mediterranean, Alfa’s roadster was a great reminder that the 4C Spider remains on the market. In the absence of specific 4C marketing, someone should remind us.

Of course, crossovers, pickups and SUVs were also in attendance. Land Rover revealed its Range Rover Evoque, Toyota showed an updated Tacoma, and Ford announced an ‘ST’ version of its all-new (and well-received) Explorer.