Jeff and I are here at the Chicago Auto Show in the Windy City. It's sunny and nice so far, if you can consider 28degF nice. After a quick lunch sponsored by Bridgestone Americas, we'll head down to the show floor and start reporting on the new cars.
First we're going to go down and find the TOV Project Si so we can make sure it arrived in one piece and looks halfway decent. Check back in a little bit for some photos of the Lexus ES350 and whatever else catches our eye.
Update 1:42PM. We just came back upstairs to download a few pics. Unfortunately as we downloaded our pics we discovered that a large number of our shots have been corrupted by some sort of electronic gremlin. So we have to reshoot some of the cars (including our own). Unfortunately we may not be able to upload the fixed pics until later. For now this is what we got of the ES350, GS450 Hybrid, Our Project Si and Nissan's '07 Quest with improved interior.
Other than that, there's not a lot to report from the floor here yet. We did bump into Peter Cunningham over in the Honda booth and after he finished chewing us out for not posting one of his latest press releases (somehow, we never got it, we promise!) we spoke briefly about the upcoming season and a little bit about the 550hp supercharged S2000 drift car that they're currently having built. Peter seems pretty upbeat about the season, but as anybody who follows the Speed World Challenge, anything can happen with all the rewards weights, technical bulletins, etc... Realtime will be in Atlanta in a few weeks for some testing during a regional event if you feel like checking out their "practice".
While we were speaking with Peter, Lincoln was holding their press conference and I noticed that theirs featured Kermit the frog and Magic Johnson. Not sure of the tie in there...
If you want to see our Project Si, it's parked over in the South Hall (SH12) in the SEMA/Shell Project Vehicles Display, right next to the Gran Turismo4 Civic Si. The SEMA/Shell display is situated next to the Mitsubishi and Dodge displays on the opposite wall from Honda's display. Here's some trivia regarding the size of some of the displays. Honda's measures 24,262 sq. ft, with Acura's covering 16,200. Nissan has 40,960, Toyota has 52,876, Mazda's is 13,323 and Dodge's is 79,486. Okay, Tuan's back with some of the reshoots so I'm going to start processing those again.
Update 4:28PM. Just back from the Honda Civic Si Sedan Concept introduction. Honda displayed a TOV logo during the presentation when talking about the target market for the car. We were able to talk to John Mendel again about today's Civic Si Sedan concept. We'll have his video interview in a few days. In the mean time, we're working on close-ups shots of the sedan. In person, the car looks very nice. The two-tone paint job with the black roof and hood strikes a nice resemblance to our own Coupe project car. Bear with us while we process our photos and some short video clips. Did I say nice and sunny earlier? Well, it's nice and blizzard like now.
Update 12:24PM, Thursday February 9:
I'm flying back to Atlanta in a little bit but I ran over to the show to try to check out some of the stuff we missed yesterday and also to try to get some pics of the '07 Tundra. The Tundra intro was at 9AM and I waited around until about 10:15-10:30 for the crowd to dissipate, but there were still too many people to get any clean shots. I got a CD with the standard PR photography. I'll post a few of those pics later. I wasn't even able to climb inside and see what it was like, but I can tell you it's a pretty large vehicle, featuring a 5.7L V8 and up to a 10000lb tow rating. I also checked out the new Hyundai Accent. There's a 3-door hatch and 4-door sedan. They're okay but nothing earth shattering. The Hyundai Entourage minivan also went on display. Again, not a lot of earth shattering news from a product standpoint though they're pitching it as around $1500 cheaper than the Odyssey. From what I saw, the Ody is worth the premium.
I mosied back over to Lexus because yesterday we didn't get much of a chance to fully check out the new ES350. Overall it has a pretty nice interior, though I noticed that headroom in the rear was a little bit tight as was toe room for rear seat passengers. I popped the trunk and took a glance inside before a "helpful" PR person rushed over and asked if I needed any help. I informed her that I was just checking out the trunk and she pretty much slammed it shut. I'm not sure why they were trying to hide the cargo area of a production vehicle - I guess it was my mistake for assuming auto shows were put on so we could check out the various vehicles. I had no such problems in the Mercedes booth, where I was able to crawl through the '07 S-Class. As you might expect, that's a pretty nice ride on the inside. I'm not fond of the exterior styling, but the interior is quite nice.
One more thing before I have to snap the lid shut on my laptop and dash off for the airport. The Buick Enclave concept caught my eye and I had a brief discussion with one of the designers. Overall I came away pretty impressed with their version of the MB R-Class/Audi Q7. Of course we'll have to wait and see how the production car looks in about 16 months, but they really did a very nice job on the concept. I'll be posting some pics later this evening or perhaps tomorrow, if you're interested in seeing some of the stuff