Live From The Chicago Auto Show! In 1988 and 1992…

I was always a big car fan, well before I even learned to ride a bike. My mom says when I was two or three, I’d run around with my Lincoln Mark IV and Cadillac Fleetwood Pocket Cars, and if I tripped, I wouldn’t let go, to keep the cars from getting scratched. So when my mom and dad took me to my first-ever Chicago Auto Show in 1988, to say it was a big deal would have been an understatement.

As anyone who has read my posts knows, I’m a big Volvo fan. Through the years, my folks had a ’73 1800ES, ’77 245DL, ’84 244GL and an ’86 240DL, just to name a few. So I just HAD to see Volvo’s display. Irv Gordan’s famous 1800S was there – it had recently turned over one million miles and Volvo got lots of PR out of it.

This is me and Mom in front of a 760. I’m not sure where the rest of the car is.

I had to have my picture taken behind the wheel of a new car. I am pretty sure this is an N-body Skylark sedan. All in all, I thought the Chicago Auto Show was really great. It would not be my last.

Fast forward to 1992. We are looking at one of Volvo’s venerable 240s in gunmetal gray. Don’t you wish you could go back in time and get a brand-new 240? I do.

By now my dad had the 1991 940SE that would be my first car in the not so distant future. Mom had traded in her navy blue 740GL wagon for a ’92 Grand Caravan, but we still liked Volvos. This 940 Turbo is especially sharp in bright red.

Here’s a 740 station wagon, in its last model year. We had two of these, the above-mentioned ’90 740GL wagon with saddle leather interior and a burgundy ’89 740GL wagon with tan leather.

In 1992, Volvo brought back the GL trim level to the 240 series. I was especially taken with this particular emerald green 240GL, with its turbine-spoke alloys, sunroof and saddle leather interior. Me, my mom and my sister are on the right, checking it out. I have no idea who the guy on the left was.

Sick of Volvos, you say? Okay, let’s wander around and see what else is on display.

How about a nice Ferrari 512TR?

If the Ferrari is too expensive, there’s always the classic Alfa Romeo Spider. You better hurry though, because they’re not going to be around much longer. I still have my Alfa brochures from these shows.

The W140 Mercedes S-Class was all-new this year, replacing the long-lived but still attractive W126. So which was the last brick-outhouse Mercedes, the W126 or the W140?

If you lost your shirt during the S&L fiasco and had to turn in your leased Mercedes, you could get one of North America’s lowest-priced cars, the Hyundai Excel. If you told anyone in 1992 that Hyundai was going to be a big deal in 15-20 years, closing in on Toyota and Honda in sales and quality, you would have gotten laughed at.

Don’t forget the concept cars! Pontiac fielded an interesting targa-topped concept, the Salsa.

I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a sports car or a sporty car, but the overall proportions remind me of a compact crossover, a segment which did not exist when this photo was taken.

Honda fielded a pretty wild-looking concept, the EP-X. With its canopy and aerodynamic lines, it puts out a serious aircraft vibe.

In 1962, this is probably what people thought everyone would be driving in thirty years, complete with nuclear power or jet propulsion. They were a little off.

Well, thanks for joining me on my trip through the new cars of the past. I remember when all these cars were new, and today they’re all Curbside Classics! Oh well, time marches on. For all you Diamond-Star fans, here’s a parting shot of a Plymouth Laser.