Auto Show: Even the Walls Are Made Out of Cars
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

As I didn't mention previously, this was my first auto show. I've been driving my 1990 BMW 325iS for over ten years now. I've flogged it on the race track for hundreds of hours. I drove it to the ends of the country. Perhaps once you have a boxy car, every other kind of car just looks weird with its "smooth lines" and "aerodynamicismness".

That said, as Cha Cha (my editor) and I walked into the expanse of the show and examined our free map, I couldn't help but look to see how close we were to the suburu area. The new WRX comes in at a respectable 265hp, and some very impressive four paw 0-60 times. It's fairly lightweight for a modern car. The "hatchback" is vaguely spacious. With about a hundred other things ahead of "new car" on the list of stuff I want to buy, it's unfortunately not worth even sitting in it.

Sitting in it, I liked it. The shortcomings of my current vehicle, most of which could be fixed with a modest amount of time and money, loomed before me. The shortcomings of this car, having never driven it, were unknown and easy to ignore. I let my mind wander as I gripped the wheel. Truly, not having a WRX is the main reason I'm not kicking ass on the WRC circuit right now.

All around me people were sitting in cars, opening trunks and raising an eyebrow, frowning sternly at the shape of a side mirror, scrutinizing under the hoods. As far as large public events go, this was nowhere near the spectacle of the motorycle show last weekend, or even a shopping mall in december. But still more of a spectacle than a museum.

[ tags: auto autoshow cars chicago hp5 hp5@1600 leica m4 travel ]

Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

Only two things make Cha Cha smile like that. One is a saturn.

Just as I turn my nose at car after car, holding up the simple and bulletproof design of my old BMW as the ideal, she looks at car after car with a snort. "27 miles per gallon? My saturn gets 65. How ridiculous. And $20,000? I wouldn't pay that for a house."

"Well, with real life driving, and if the engine were broken in....I'd bet it would hit 29...." I trail off. What can I say? Given so many years of autogineering, most cars hitting the 30 mph mark shouldn't be too much to ask.

I'm suddenly distracted by a giant transformers robot looming over everything. I think I saw him in a movie! He is huge. I press into the crowd for a photo, Cha Cha close behind.

[ tags: auto autoshow cars chicago hp5 hp5@1600 leica m4 people travel ]

Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

This is a batman car which will never be made for production. Or maybe it was transformers or something. Its lines were stunning and very imaginary.

[ tags: auto autoshow batman cars chicago hp5 hp5@1600 leica m4 travel ]

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