Review: The Best of The Chicago Auto Show

Feb 19, 2015

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The 107th Chicago Auto Show filled the Windy City’s McCormick Place with dozens of new trucks and oodles of ideas on how to custom-style them.

With the Chicago show being mostly a new-vehicle review, most of the trucks were wearing “factory approved” accessories. But, in today’s marketplace, a lot of the OEM approved stuff really comes from secondary market suppliers. And if the hardware didn’t come from the aftermarket, the original ideas probably did.

Domestic truck makers exhibiting in Chicago each had their own persona. For GMC it was an upscale image with chrome accessories displayed in a handsome wood case. Chevy played it sporty, with mostly bright colors, but black wheels and tires. Dodge was the tough guy “ramming” its way up the sales charts with hefty HEMI engines or Cummins Diesels and bright two-tone paint schemes.

Meanwhile, Ford’s image was that of the big, brawny and serious competitor with high-tech Power Stroke engines and aluminum body panels.

Japan’s Toyota was all over the ballpark, covering all of the bases from company heritage (with a 1961 FJ25 Land Cruiser), to a Tacoma pickup wrapped in red-white-blue-and-cammo to promote the “Hiring Our Heroes” program to find jobs for veterans.

Nearby in the Toyota booth was a white Tacoma next to a display of all the factory accessories available for it.

Mazda was introducing a new Cummins diesel for its trucks and Kia’s new Trailster was in the spotlight at the Korean automaker’s booth.

From Germany came the Mercedes AMG G63, a G-Class blend of utility and luxury with a Bi-Turbo power plant.

If you want to talk about very special, job-oriented truck accessories, the Chicago Auto Show had those, too. Chevy, for instance, displayed the latest edition of its Tahoe police SUV with cop wheels, a push bumper and a light bar rigged up to flash all during the show.

Still, it was hard to exceed the amount of accessories on the big, red Ford F-750 Super Duty tow truck featuring a rust-proof Poly Body by UPF, and a Ford 6.7L Power-Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel. It also had rows of equipment cabinets, a dual boom hoist and a gigantic hydraulically-operated wheel lift.

For truck enthusiasts, venues like the Chicago Auto Show are places to get some great ideas on how trucks can be dressed up and tricked out.