Terms like gas-efficient and eco-friendly may have dominated discussion of the U.S. auto industry in recent years.
But on Sunday, the closing day of the Chicago Auto Show, V-8 powered American steel showed it still has the touch.
“If you don’t respect it, it’ll make you respect it,” said Billy Richmond, 39, while checking out a high-horsepower (and high-dollar) Cadillac.
“You have to respect a car like that.”
The hood scoops, aggressive curves and matte finish may have enticed Richmond.
However, like many of the thousands who flocked to McCormick Place last week to window shop, gawk and gaze, watching the car twirl on a rotating stage was likely the closest he was going to get.
“To test drive something like that you need the [American Express] black card,” Richmond said.
“It’s not a grocery getter, but you can get groceries in it. It’s a 200 mile-per-hour car in a family sedan.
You get a little bit of both – luxury and speed.”
Attendance at the 9-day show was up 7 percent compared to 2014′s show, which had an extra day to play with, said Mark Bilek of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. Muscular looking Cadillacs, Dodge Challengers and Ford Mustangs all helped draw the crowds.
But so too did many of the full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.
Meanwhile, carnival barkers extolled the virtues of various makes and models while buxom models stood by and smiled.
Outfitted in coveralls, Anthony Welch, 56, of Chicago, was tasked with wiping down and polishing a red, 707 horsepower, Challenger SRT Hellcat, which retails at about $59,000.
Fighting back against finger smudges is a tedious affair, he explained.
“I wax down the cars. But with millions of people touching them, you can only do so much,” Welch said.
Kevin Janson, 17, of Frankfort, test drove a Challenger on a short straightaway installed inside the convention center.
“Fast” is how Janson — who waited in line for an hour to take a turn behind the wheel — described the car.
“I like the look of it,” he said.
Sipping a beer, 22-year-old Danny Khollman, of Wonder Lake, took in the sights of a Jeep off-road course.
Khollman said he hadn’t been to the auto show for a couple years. But then he saw some pictures friends of his had taken at the show and “got a little jealous.”
“These Jeeps are going through everything. I like this little course they got,” he said.
“I told [my friends] when I came here, I’m opening the checkbook, guys.”