If the Detroit auto show ordered up that January snowstorm as a fitting backdrop for the many new sport-utilities and sport wagons on display, Chicago should put in a requisition for blue skies and clear freeways.
With few exceptions, the 91st Chicago Auto Show at the McCormick Place convention center will put the emphasis back on passenger cars.
At least 11 new cars are expected to be revealed in drawings or in the metal during a media preview on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 10 and 11. By comparison, there will be just one production sport-utility from Mercedes-Benz and a sport wagon concept from Subaru.
Headline makers at the show are expected to include:
Pontiac: General Motors' excitement division will reveal the 2000 Bonneville. It has been moved from the H platform to the G platform, where it will share components with the current Cadillac Seville, the 2000 Buick LeSabre and the next Oldsmobile Aurora. (See photo on cover.)
Chevrolet: The wraps come off GMX230, the internal code-name for the 2000 Monte Carlo coupe. A sister of the Chevrolet Impala sedan shown in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Monte Carlo will share the Impala's two V-6 engines and underpinnings but feature distinct body work with unique front and rear fascia treatments.
Nissan: The 2000 Maxima will be larger, with rounder, less conventional styling. Its platform will be merged with that of the next Altima. The company also will debut a wagon hybrid concept.
Cadillac: GM's luxury division will show the 1999 Catera Sport, a slightly racier version of the GM-Opel-sourced Catera featuring aero skirts, sport wheels and badging.
Honda: The sporty Si designation returns to the Civic lineup in this 160-hp version of the coupe. Cosmetic touches, larger wheels and tires and a stiffer suspension complement the package.
Mazda: Mazda will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its genre-defining Miata roadster with a new limited edition. Unique interior and exterior treatments, plus a mild powertrain enhancement, will go into a series of 3,000 individually numbered models, Mazda says.
Mercedes-Benz: A 4.3-liter V-8 upgrade will separate the new ML430 Sport from other models in the M-class sport-utility lineup. Mercedes also officially will launch the North American operations of Designo, the company's European in-house color and trim customizing department.
Mitsubishi: Large stocks of unsold Eclipses convinced Mitsubishi it should not show reporters the new model just yet, but they will get to see renderings. The car is said to borrow design cues from the SST concept shown last year in Detroit and Chicago.
Subaru: Genuine Philippine mahogany and white ash were used to create the Subaru Forester Woody concept, a playful 1990s knockoff of the wood-sided wagons of the 1940s. 'Moon' dish wheels, a wood roof rack and an in-car PC are part of the clash of eras in this car.