Tag Archives: Chicago Auto Show

Car Spot: 69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car

A rare concept car that still lives today

Mark and I love going to the Chicago Auto Show each year. We get to see what’s new but one of the coolest exhibits are the concept cars. Not so much by the current manufacturers but tucked away in a corner of the North Hall is the Klairmont Kollections display of this year’s show. This week’s car spot is one of its, the 69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car.

69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car
The paint job on this concept car was amazing.

RELATED Spot: See another from the Klairmont Kollections, a Lincoln Bubbletop.

The fourth generation of the Dodge Dart, which began with the 67 model year, was the budget muscle car of the brand when compared to its bigger brothers, the Charger and Coronet. In 68, the Dart was offered with the legendary 426 HEMI, but in 69 it got even better as you could get the small Dodge muscle car with the 440-cubic-inch big block V8. While the Dart from the late 60s doesn’t get the same level of respect as the Charger, it was still a very popular model, both as a performance car and as an affordable daily driver.

RELATED Spot: Its pony car cousin the Plymouth Barracuda.

This Dodge Dart was built specifically for the 69 Chicago Auto Show, by Detroit’s Alexander Brothers. It’s powered by a 340-cubic-inch V8 mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, with power steering and power brakes.

69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car interior
The Interior looked like it just left the factory.

Inside, it features bucket seats, a radio delete plate, a wood-rimmed steering wheel, along with the familiar chrome Hurst shifter. Outside it has rectangular headlights with small, circular driving lights mounted in the middle of the custom chrome grille along with a custom hood scoop that surprisingly is non-functional. It rides on Ansen Sprint slotted aluminum wheels and adds the chrome flip-up gas door of the Dodge Charger.

69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car square headlights
Rectangular headlights were the craze then because they could lend to a better design.
69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car hood scoop
It looked cool even if it was non-functional.

RELATED Spot: A restomod Charger.

The biggest difference is in the back where the designers created a uniquely sculpted tail with an integrated spoiler that flows down into the rear section of the quarter panels. The taillight panel is also very different, with a recessed area and custom elongated taillight lenses stretching across the rear end. Quite a difference from the production ’69 Dart which had small, stacked taillights on the outer edge of the rear end flush with the downward-facing portion of the trunk lid.

69 Dodge Dart Swinger 340 Concept Car left rear
Note the chrome flip-up gas door, spoiler, and custom elongated taillight lenses stretching across the rear end.

RELATED Spot: The ultimate Mopar, a Viper GTS.

A lot of other concept cars end their lives after the show circuit in the crusher but this one was saved and sold to a lucky collector and was passed on to a few more before ending up at Klairmont Kollections. It’s sad that so many others were not.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about this unique car. Be sure to check out my other spots and Mark’s reviews of new cars. Check back next Friday for another one of my spots and have a great weekend.


Car Spot: Rolls-Royce Cullinan

How can an SUV be ugly and extremely expensive at the same time?

“From urban adventures to journeys into the wilderness” from the description on their website. Really? So you mean to tell me that I might see owners of this vehicle, which can cost close to half a million bucks, on the same trails as Jeeps, Broncos, and other SUVs? Not buying it.

Spotted this Cullinan while down at this year’s Chicago Auto Show.

In 2018, reluctantly followed Bentley and Lamborghini venturing into the SUV business with the Bentayga and the Urus which has become globally its best seller. A huge departure for the luxury British carmaker, which has a long history of producing luxurious passenger cars. It gets its name from the world’s largest uncut diamond. It sort of looks like a Rolls Royce Phantom that has been making too many stops at fast-food restaurants. It is a sure head-turner on the road but its enormous grille, flat sides, and boxy roofline won’t appeal to everyone. Yup, got that one right.

The Spirit of Ecstasy, also called Eleanor, Silver Lady, or Flying Lady adorns this Rolls-Royce.

The Cullinan comes with just one engine, a 6.75-liter V12 that produces 571hp and drives all four wheels through an automatic gearbox. This absolute beast of a vehicle can do 0-60mph in just 5.0sec. Its top speed is electronically limited to 155mph. It’s rated at 12 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway which isn’t that bad considering its size and engine.

RELATED Spot: 71 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible

Inside the spacious cabin is lined in box-grain leather, lambs-wool carpeting, beautiful wood trim, and milled aluminum accents. The vehicle’s liftgate configuration allows the brand to fit the cargo area with an optional Viewing Suite consisting of a pair of leather-wrapped seats and a small table that pop out of the floor. This is by far the most luxurious way to take in a polo match at the country estate. Yup, not seeing it at any off-road events.

Opulence doesn’t begin to describe this interior.

The Cullinan’s arrival in showrooms in 2019 quickly translated into an order bank that was full through July and showed no signs of stopping. So much so that it added workers at its lone production plant in Goodwood, England. This was Rolls-Royce’s best-selling model last year although the company won’t provide exact numbers for each model. Keep in mind that this is a high-profit vehicle so they don’t have to sell a lot of them. With a base price of $355,000, they can be optioned all the way up to 600 grand! This one was $460,000. Wow that’s about what our house is worth. Just for grins I had some fun with numbers. On a zero-interest 48-month loan, monthly payments would be $9,583! With no interest! Wowy wow wow!

It’s Rolls-Royce’s best-selling vehicle.

Thanks for stopping by and checking us out. Be sure to hop back next Friday for another one of my car spots along with some it its history. Have a great weekend.

This one at Chicago Auto Show, $468,750

2022 Chicago Auto Show is back

Dealing with Covid the best they could

It has to be tough putting together an event and dealing with all the Covid restrictions but the organizers of the Chicago Auto Show, running today through the 21st, pulled it off. They went to the city and state with a plan and it was given the green light. It’s not going to be like past years. First, all entrants will have to show valid proof of being vaccinated before entering, and second, the show is only about half the size.

Normally filling both halls of McCormick Place, it only fills one. Noticeably absent are manufacturers like Mazda and Mercedes-Benz. But what the show is lacking in displays, it more than makes up for with experiences as there are five different test tracks. More on that in a moment.

The big reveal of the show came from Ford who now only showed off its Bronco Raptor but also its Everglades edition. The Raptor is Ford’s answer to the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 392, essentially a Bronco on steroids ready to tackle any kind of terrain.

Power comes from Ford’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost® engine targeted to deliver more than 400 horsepower. I can’t wait to see these two go head to head.

The Everglades is more meant for those who don’t mind getting wet. Designed with offroading and mudding in mind, the new model builds atop the Black Diamond trim and the Sasquatch off-road package. It comes with a factory-installed Warn Zeon 10-S winch rated at 10,000 pounds. I don’t recall seeing that on a production truck.

A snorkel keeps the engine breathing clean air. The only bummer is that it is only available with the base 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine and a 10-speed automatic. Ford plans to open orders in March, with priority going to existing Bronco reservation holders who don’t have a build date. 

Of course, they had an electric. Seems to be the fad right now. They showed off their F-150 Lightning which delivers a targeted 563 horsepower, up to 300 miles of EPA-estimated range, and hands-free driving. MSRP is under $40,000 before incentives to that should help sales. Ford claims it can power your house for up to three days. I file that under “good to know” but not a reason to buy.

But the coolest display they had was a pair of Ford GT’s introducing the 2022 Ford GT Alan Mann Heritage Edition. Right next to it is the 1966 Fort GT 40 that Alan Mann and his team raced at LeMans. No pricing was announced on the new GT although it will probably be around $800,000 like the other special editions, Ford, as rolled out. I have never been this close to one of the older GT’s.

From the “Why would they even think of doing that?” area, Ford took a classic F-100 and ripped the engine out of it replacing with an electric motor. The Eluminator EV Concept electric pickup is now powered using a 2021 Mustang Mach-E battery-electric powertrain. This is an e-crate motor Ford Performance is providing to guys crazy enough to want to do something like this.

Not to be outdone by Ford, Chevy was also on hand to show off its new Silverado EV coming this spring. This isn’t their current Silverado converted to EV power. It was developed from the ground up as a fully-electric truck on GM’s advanced Ultium EV Platform. Rated at up to 664 horsepower with more than 780 lb-ft of torque it certainly will be able to haul a lot of stuff. It can haul up to 10,000 pounds and has a 400-mile range. MSRP before any tax break is a reasonable $40,000.

Also on display is the new Z06 Corvette. It is powered by the all-new 5.5L LT6, the highest horsepower, naturally-aspirated V-8 to hit the market in any production car, ever creating 670 hp. Go and check out the reveal video Chevy did. Most important, listen to its sound. If that doesn’t give you chills running up and down your spine, well I don’t know what will. This is a car I lust after and so did buyers at Barret-Jackson in January where the rights to the first one off the production line went for 3.8M!

OK, back to the test tracks. There are five of them, Camp Jeep, Ford Built Wild, Ford Built to Electrify, Ram Truck Territory, and Toyota Proving Grounds. During our media preview day on the 11th, I did the Ford Built Wild so I could see what the new Bronco is all about.

And Then Camp Jeep which has been at the Chicago Auto Show for 18 years now. I went for a ride in the new Wrangler Unlimited 4xe.

Note: In the past, the lines for these are fairly long so plan on hitting them earlier in the day. The show runs through the 21st. Go, have some fun.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited hybrid

New Pacifica hybrid a refined people hauler …

Chrysler has been making minivans since the 1984 model year, but its latest, the 2020 Pacifica, is easily the best of the bunch.

Chrysler minivans have nearly always been comfortable and easy to drive. The company’s Stow N Go seats were a brilliant addition, as were its earlier rear seats that could be rolled out for easy removal and storage. But, let’s be honest, there were some mechanical issues, something about transmissions. That’s behind the company, now part of Italian conglomerate, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Continue reading 2020 Chrysler Pacifica Limited hybrid

2020 Chicago Auto Show Highlights

Lots a new models revealed

This year’s Chicago Auto Show shapes up to be one of the best in a very long time. Mark and I traveled down to Chicago during media days and there was a lot of excitement.

Other cool stuff

How about this Ford GT that was manufactured out of liquid carbon fiber. Ford says they will make about a dozen of these this year and they take about three times longer to make than the standard Ford GT.

ford gt, ford, supercars, 2020 chicago auto show

Continue reading 2020 Chicago Auto Show Highlights

2018 Chicago Auto Show: New vehicles big and small

It’s the largest show in North America

Mark and I love this show and have been making the trip down south from Milwaukee for a long time. Besides seeing the latest from the auto manufacturers, we spend time catching up with our fellow reporters. And we got some exercise walking two miles in the one million square foot exhibit area at McCormick Place. Continue reading 2018 Chicago Auto Show: New vehicles big and small

2017 Chicago Auto Show

Cool new cars and fun stuff to do

Going to the Chicago Auto Show is one of our favorite trips of the year because we always have a great time. This year was no different. We captured some of it in the two videos below. If you’ve been thinking about going, and we recommend it, get a long little doggie, because it runs through February 20th.

2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD

Beautiful Jaguar XJL delivers power, luxury + AWD

Even in snow this Jag handles like a sports sedan.
Even in snow this Jag handles like a sports sedan.

Sometimes in life we are lucky, and I was all of that as I slipped behind the wheel of Jaguar’s gleaming limo of a sedan, the XJL.

This is a beautiful car aimed at the beautiful people that have the money to spend on luxury and looks.

It’s a long car, hence the L in its name. Yet the XJL looks lean and muscular, like an Olympic sprinter ready to pounce on the competition at the start of a race. This is a spirited road car riding on a 124.3-inch wheelbase. Such length puts it in the league of full-sized SUVs, inside and out. UW’s starting five basketball players could ride comfortably in the XJL. And this was my second ride in such a luxury liner in the past year. Lucky me!

Overall the car is 206.8 inches long. By comparison, the sizeable Lexus LS460 AWD I drove just a few weeks back is 6.8 inches shorter in length, and it was plenty big.

jag6Yet unlike the Lexus with its smooth gentle giant of a 5.0-liter V8, Jaguar tucks a 3.0-liter V6 under its long hood. Ah, but the secret is that Jaguar supercharges its V6 to create 340 horses, 20 shy of the Lexus. But here’s the deal. Jaguar always has an eye on performance and keeps the XJL trim at 4,153 lbs., or about 500 lbs. lighter than the Lexus. Continue reading 2015 Jaguar XJL Portfolio AWD

Braking News: Our look at the Chicago Auto Show

New reveals, but kind of laid back

ford racing, ford gt, supercars, lemans, chicago auto showLaid back, that’s how Mark and I sum up this year’s Chicago Auto Show as far as the new models go. Of course nobody could top Subaru’s reveal of their new Legacy last year. No car was cooler than the new Ford GT, which you can see in the image here and in one of the videos below.

Continue reading Braking News: Our look at the Chicago Auto Show

Braking News: Kia concept shown at Chicago Auto Show

Concept cars are cool

Photo: Kia
Photo: Kia

At the Chicago Auto Show not only did Mark and I see the newest models offered by the chicago auto show, auto show concept cars, kia, kia neromanufactures, but also concepts, one of them the Kia Niro. Positioned as a new urban lifestyle concept that is set to become a possible future B-segment contender. The Niro is powered by a 1.6-litre T-GDi engine with hybrid electric drive. Butterfly doors open, of course not when we were there, into the roof panel and swing up high with low-set flush handles. It is one cool little car. Mark and I would have loved to have taken it home. Click on the image on the right to see the video of our walk around.