Chicago Classic Car Culture

Nov 1, 2007

Does Chicago have an active car culture? The answer to that question is a resounding "yes!" Anyone who has driven past McCormick place during the annual auto show can vouch for that. Just look around Chicago and you can see the love affair in action. No place is this more evident than in the local cruise nights that pop up in many suburban locations during the summer months. Whether you go there to show a car, see a classic hot rod, or just get out of the house, the Chicago classic cruise nights are some of the best.

During the summer months from dinnertime to dusk on practically every day of the week, you can wander streets from the far northern suburbs to the south side and check out vehicles from the past. Cars of all sizes, ages, and colors will be rolling down "Main Street" in the downtown districts of suburban Chicago.

"These shows are all about community and family" says the creator of a web site that promotes these shows. "People get out with their wife and kids, have an ice cream cone, and swap stories on ideas for next weekend’s garage tinkering project."

People find out about these local shows from their newspaper, car clubs, and online resources like Members of such web sites enjoy the online format because it allows them to share photos, chat in the forums, and have a place to share stories when they cannot attend a cruise night. The web format is also popular in that dreaded Chicago winter season when all classic cars stay bundled up in their garages. has cruise night listings by each day of the week, as well as by suburban location.

Virtually all classic car shows welcome visitors free of charge. New visitors should keep a couple points in mind as they walk the shows as a little etiquette goes a long way.

- Don't touch the cars
- Don't reach inside a car (or get inside a car!)
- Keep strollers, buggies, and wagons a safe distance from the cars
- Keep a close eye on small children - Cars coming and going all the time can be dangerous.
- If you lean over too admire the engine or get a closer look, watch out for your belt buckle or the zipper on your jacket or other metal items on your clothing.
- Don't stand on running boards
- If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all

While hot rod culture has diminished over time, it has never completely gone away. Groups of grease monkeys and car lovers have always gravitated to the classic American car and everything it stands for.

Today, whether it's because of an excuse to get the family out of the house, a reason to polish up the old jalopy, or just a love of classic cars, cruise nights are flourishing around Chicago.

Author: Todd Fredricks. For more information or complete Chicago Cruise Night information visit the

Chicago Classic Car Culture