Dodge SRT

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

Every year the automakers who sell cars in the United States pull a fast one over on the public. They bring their products, which THEY are trying to sell to US, to a convention hall and WE pay money just to SEE them. Does that make sense? Not really, but the opportunity to see some of the sweetest rides around is enough for some people, especially auto aficionados, to throw logic right out the window.

Super Bowl Sunday didn’t just play host to the biggest football game of the year, it also concluded the Washington, D.C. Auto Show. Available to the public for 10 days from January 27th to February 5th, the auto show welcomed just about every major automaker into the nation’s capital as well as some special guests including various members of the Washington Redskins, WWE Superstar Randy Orton, and even the Commander-in-Chief himself, President Obama.

But with the 2012 Chicago Auto Show beginning THIS Friday (or as early as tomorrow for members of the media), it’s time to look ahead at what the rest of the nation is likely to see at their local convention center. But since it can’t be guaranteed that everyone of these awesome pieces of machinery will make it to your neck of the woods (including one that was NOT in the D.C. Auto Show), here are the 10 coolest car’s you will PROBABLY see at an auto show near you plus one “honorable mention”:

Honorable Mention : Chevrolet ‘Bumblebee’ Camaro – There was no room for this car inside the top ten, but it was worth mentioning nonetheless. No, this car cannot ACTUALLY transform nor does it come with Megan Fox. But this yellow and black Camaro is an exact replica of the one used to play Bumblebee in the Transformer movies and comes complete with the famous Autobot decal right below the Camaro’s nameplate.

Bumblebee Camaro

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

10 : Blake Griffin/West Coast Customs Kia Optima – Yes, this is a shameless ploy by KIA to try and make their rides appear more “sportier” and less “economical”. But you know what? It totally worked. With amazing bodywork that is designed to resemble the texture of a basketball, this glistening “tricked out” version of the Kia Optima customized by West Coast Customs is way cooler than that one Griffin dunked over in the All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest last year.

Blake Griffin Optima

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

9 : Mercedes SLS – You may or may not have seen this Mercedes coupe before. Either way, though, you’ll probably have the opportunity to see it in person at some point this year. With a body that fits right in with other high-end import coupes and a set of doors that appeal to German automotive lovers and Dellorean fanboys alike, the SLS is one sexy ride IF you can afford its $190,000 price tag. Even if you can’t, though, if you’re local auto show is running the same promotion that was in D.C., you’ll have an opportunity to get a photo of you behind the wheel of this Mercedes for FREE.

Mercedes SLS

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

8 : Chevrolet Tru 140S Concept – One of the greatest things about auto shows is concept cars, and this wave-of-the-future build from Chevrolet does not disappoint. With an aggressive, 2-door body that looks more indicative of an Audi or an Acura, this Chevrolet sub-compact will undoubtedly take on a totally different look before it hits the streets (if it even does). As it is, however, the Tru 140S makes for some great eye candy right now.

Tru 140S

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

7 : Audi R8 Spyder – Little can be said about the R8 that hasn’t been said already. It’s fast, it’s powerful, and it’s outside just about everyone’s budget with the exception of Tony Stark. Still, you can see it in person merely for the price of admission. And the Spyder convertible version of the R8 comes complete with infinite headroom, so Kareem Abdul-Jabar at least has that going for him.

R8 Spyder

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

6 : Lexus LF-LC Hybrid Sport Coupe Concept – The second concept car on the list is a far deviation from your daddy’s Lexus. Pulling inspiration from the automaker’s more performance enhanced models, the satiny luxury coupe looks like it could flat-out smoke it’s counterparts on the street. Add in the fact that it’s a hybrid vehicle and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your ecological footprint is no bigger than the tread marks you leave behind at the stop sign.

LF-LC Hybrid

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

5 : Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Edition – Calling all gamers, your car is out front! This decked-out version of the Wrangler comes complete with so many gadgets you’ll feel like you’re fighting it out against the Spetsnaz right on the streets of suburbia you call home. But for those who want people to KNOW they have this MW3 version of the Wrangler, the model comes complete with MW3 floor mats, bucket seats, rear tire cover, and, of course, metal placard just in front of each front door on the body.

Wrangler MW3 Edition

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

4 : NEW Audi S7 – Taking a right turn on “topical”, one of the cars likely to be at an auto show near you is the Audi S7 that was featured on Audi’s hilarious vampire-zapping commercial during the big game. Becoming available at dealerships soon, the S7 features a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that it borrowed from its sister, the S6. And with just about 420 horses underneath the hood, you’ll be out frying vampires faster than you can say “Twilight sucks”.

Audi S7

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

3 : Chevrolet ‘American Pride’ Camaro – Simply put, you will not see anything more beautiful than this custom Camaro at your local auto show. Using its entire body as a timeline-like mural of American war history, this Chevy muscle car starts with Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln in one quarter panel and swings all the way around to modern day military bomb techs on the other. Attention, Michaelangelo, the bar has just been raised.

American Pride Camaro

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

2 :  Ford Evos Concept – If anyone tries to tell you that the American automakers are still dead in the water, please kindly show them a photo of the Ford Evos concept car. A super-sweet hypothetical design from one of the nation’s largest and most affordable automakers, the Evos will likely be a point of inspiration when it comes to designing Ford’s future sedans. In the meantime, though, it’s crazy opening doors will entertain the easily distracted person in us all.

Ford Evos

Photo by Bryan Lienesch

1 : Acura NSX Concept – This car was NOT at the D.C. Auto Show, but it’s worth every ounce of hype that it is currently getting. Not yet in production in the U.S., the NSX will be coming stateside soon enough. It was also the focal point of Acura’s Super Bowl spot featuring Jerry Seinfeld, the “Soup Nazi”, and Jay Leno. And considering that search results for the sports car were up 1,800% after the Super Bowl according to AutoTrader.com, you could find yourself in just as brutal of a bidding war as Seinfeld and Leno were IF you can even afford its hefty price.

NSX Concept

Photo Courtesy MotorTrend.com