The annual World of Wheels car show has been a precursor to spring in Chicago for decades now. Featuring a wide array of custom, modified show cars, it has been a longstanding tradition in the Chicago area. It started off taking place at McCormick Place near downtown Chicago, but has since moved to the Stephens Convention Center. While I love to see more shows happen within Chicago city limits, it must be said that the change of venue has not hurt the show at all. In fact, there is more space, more cars, easier access, and overall less expensive when factoring parking costs. The show really has blossomed since moving to this new venue, and it has come a long way from the shows I remember.
The World of Wheels show is definitely the bastion of older domestic cars, featuring all manner of muscle cars, rat rods, low riders, and anything in between. The level of show car on display these days, is quite impressive. Even if you are more into imports or more modern offerings, it is still worth a visit to see the level of detail and quality work put into these cars. You don’t have to be a fan of low riders to appreciate the level of detail put into the custom painted murals, and multi colored patterns on display. You need not be a fan of old Ford pickups from the 30’s, to appreciate a sparkling red finish so deep and vibrant that it looks as if it were carved from a slab of ruby and polished to a high gloss. One can be a fan of shiny new cars, but still appreciate a rusted rat-rod that transforms utilitarian transportation into a form of high concept art. There really are some incredible cars on display, on par with some of the best show cars I have seen anywhere. World of Wheels has really become a must see for any automotive enthusiast in the area, especially if you are a fan of old American Iron.
American Iron is definitely the majority at the show, but it is not exclusively a domestic affair. In fact there has been a small sub-sect of import show cars making appearances at World of Wheels for many years. What started as a modest stand of maybe one lone car crew, has now grown into it’s own section within the show on the second floor. This second show, dubbed the Tuner Galleria, has been part of World of Wheels for seven years running.
Touge Factory again proudly displayed the unorthodox, SR22 swapped 350Z, that is not only a serious track oriented weapon, but a beautiful display of the talent and ability that has made Touge Factory one of the premier import custom shops in the region.
Vintage Japanese cars have continued their rise in popularity, with another strong showing at this year’s Tuner Galleria, including the Honda swapped Datsun 510.
Speaking of vintage, there was this gorgeous VW pickup on display as well. I do not recall seeing it last year, but it was a welcome addition this year.
Another vintage offering from Bavaria, this BMW 2002 was absolutely fantastic. With examples like these at Tuner Galleria, I like where to future of vintage imports is headed.
Of course not everything is vintage, there were plenty of modern offerings like these two. I could not help but think, “whats old is new again” as these weren’t the only modern imports at the show sporting 90’s era street glow effect lighting.
There is no doubt the love for Honda’s is still incredibly strong in Chicago. This teal EG hatch had me reminiscing about my old EG.
Of course the gorgeous MKIV Supra must be mentioned, this is one of two white ones at the show this year. The ultimate Japanese muscle car, seems to be ever the fan favorite, and I suspect headed for serious appreciation as a collector car in the future.
So there you have it, this is just the tiniest of samplings of what the show has to offer, if you missed it this year, be sure to pencil it in for next year. It is well worth the price of admission, as I can not think of any other show that offers the overall quality, size and scope of what World of Wheels/Tuner Galleria brings.
– photos and writing by: Robert Sixto