Chicago Auto Show February 21, 2003


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There was only one H1 there and it was locked up. There was no emphasis on the H1 at all. The dealership salesman that was working the Hummer area said that they dumped all their H1's except for 3. He said that they have 40 unsold H2's on their lot and the economy was not good.

I was really interested is seeing the Studebaker / Avanti SUV which is a obvious rip-off of the H2 design. I was told by the Avanti salesman that the GM lawsuit was settled in their favor. After seeing the truck I can't see who would buy it. It's just a Hummeresque looking Ford Excursion. It is much longer then the H2 and will have an extra row of seats. It's built on a Ford F250 chassis so it must ride like a roller-skate. The salesman said it will have a Powerstroke diesel which is nice except it will have no off road capabilities. I think he said it will sell in the 70 to 80 range. In my opinion the truck was really built as a P/R ploy. The publicity that they are getting from it far exceeds what it took them to put it together.

As long as we're talking Studebaker I would take a look at the new Mazda coupe which definitely has Studebaker Avanti lines. It's a real cool car. The back door is one of those doors that opens from the center. The car has the new/old rotary engine and will sell in the 25k area.

I had a chance to really look at the Mercedes Glandewagon. The one at the show was hotrodded by AMG with a 400+hp engine. This truck is really nice. It's comfortable, very well built, has lockers as standard equipment and is not physically that large. In fact it's quite compact. From a technical standpoint I would get rid of my Hummer for it except for it's one BIG downfall. NO Ground clearance. Whether you are in snow or off the road Ground clearance in my opinion is the single most important factor next to driver skill. This truck sells for 75k with the AMG selling for 100k.

The only other truck that piqued my interest was the Toyota Landcruiser concept. The original Landcruiser FJ-40 was not the big hulk that Toyota now sells. The original landcruiser was Toyota's answer to the original Jeep CJ5's and landrovers. It was a small all steel bodied 4wd utility truck. This new concept truck looks promising.

All the exotic's were locked up. You have to realize that any vehicle left open to the public will get 'ripped off' at a show this big. People steal the shift knobs, radio knobs, cigarette lighters and anything they can possibly take. In fact all the cars that were open to the public had all of these items already removed.