Last Friday, Urban Gear Works had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Auto Show's Social Media Preview. I can't stress enough just how amazing it was. The people in charge of running the Chicago Auto Show should be genuinely proud of the event, and they deserve further accolades for opening their preview up to members of the non-traditional media. As I've stated before, I started Urban Gear Works as much to sharpen my skills as a software engineer (my "day job") as I did to create an outlet for my automotive passions. In the process, I've come to understand some of the difficulties a small blog faces when operating along side more established sites and traditional media outlets. It was very forward-thinking of the Chicago Auto Show to recognize the efforts of grassroots blogs like this one.
For me, attending the media preview was a glimpse into another world. Honestly, it was a dream come true; an opportunity to experience something I'd only read about until now. I was able to experience the auto show in a way previously reserved for professional journalists and industry professionals. Urban Gear Works will be posting throughout the week, but for now, here are a few highlights:
- Not only did I learn how exciting it can be to cover a media preview, I learned just how much work it can be. Obviously, the event was on Friday, and now it's Monday. I have new found respect for full-time journalists after single-handedly attending as many events as possible, retouching hundreds of photos, and working up a set of articles. I've been attending the public auto show for decades, but it is a completely different experience to attempt to cover every scheduled event and photograph all the new models. I honestly had no idea just how much work was involved.
- Ralph Gilles (@RalphGilles) and Klause Busse (@BusseKlaus) are very genuine, friendly people. Despite their top positions at Chrysler, they were both very willing to share their time and thoughts with members of the social media. Ralph Gilles spoke to me in a way that made me feel like I wrote for Road & Track, and Klause Busse personally showed me some special details in the Viper's interior. I'll go more in depth about both soon.
- Last year, matte finishes were limited only to the Mercedes display, but it looks like they are now in full trend. Several automakers displayed matte-finished models, but the Fiat Abarth, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, and Chrysler 300 Turbine really stood out.
- Since I've moved to the city, whenever I look at the new models on offer from an automaker, I'm always considering whether any fit the elusive category of "one vehicle to do everything". It has to be small, stylish, sporty and versatile. Many cars make three out of four, but finding a car that checks all the boxes is very difficult. The Buick Encore, Nissan Juke Nismo, and Fiat 500L are all interesting additions to this category.
- In all the years I've been attending the auto show, I've always wondered if any of the public's comments make it back to the manufacturers. Attending the less-crowded media preview gave me the opportunity to find out. Some of the people working the displays aren't just models hired for the event. Some are actually employed by the manufacturers, tasked with writing reports back to management. So, next time one asks you if you need anything, it might be worth asking when that concept car you fell in love with is going into production.
Urban Gear Works will be reporting more on all of the above in the near future. Until then, enjoy the flickr gallery!