The Detroit Auto Show, the Halcyon Days

January 29, 2007
0702 X Cover
We recently came across a program from the Detroit auto show of 1962 (held in October, rather than January-now there's a good idea), and it makes for an interesting contrast with today's Detroit show.
0702 X Music
Forty-five years ago, the show theme is "America Drives Ahead!" That's also the title of "an original musical revue created especially for the 44th National Auto Show," with music by Quincy Jones and starring Dick Williams, Meg Myles, and, of course, the '63-model cars.
0702 X Lyndon
Vice President Johnson is honored guest and speaker at the National Automobile Show Dinner.
The Show Committee is comprised of executives from American Motors, Chrysler, Ford, GM, International Harvester, Studebaker, The White Motor Company, and Willys.
0702 X Map
Map of the show floor shows Rambler, Studebaker, Willys, Plymouth, Oldsmobile. And no imports.
Henry Ford II says, "Probably no National Auto Show in the 62-year history of the event has opened in more challenging times." He's referring to the space race and geopolitical conflicts. But business-wise, those were halcyon days for America's automakers-they had no idea what challenging times lay ahead.
0702 X Detroit Map
An ad for parts supplier Rockwell-Standard has a map showing 17 major automotive manufacturing and administrative sites that dot the Detroit area-half of which are now gone.
The program notes the rising popularity of camping and the role of women in the auto business.
0702 X Womans Touch
The program also touts the industry's efforts on safety, quality, and emissions.
On emissions, though, the attitude seems somewhat less than gung-ho. The article boasts that the industry is fitting positive crankcase ventilation to all '63 cars, but the chairman of the Automobile Manufacturers' Association's Vehicle Combustion Products Committee cautions that areas other than Los Angeles lack scientific proof linking air-pollution problems with motor vehicles. The AMA's position is that "these communities should make a study to determine whether the motor vehicle actually is responsible, and if it is, launch a campaign aimed at having motorists keep their cars in top operating condition through proper maintenance, and institute an annual inspection of exhaust emissions where vehicle controls are adopted."
For all that's changed about and around the Detroit auto show since the early Sixties, one thing hasn't: the venue. It's still held at Cobo Hall. Joe Lorio
0702 X Riviera Ad

The Buick Riviera: "America's bid for a great new international classic car"
0702 X Amt Models Ad
AMT Corporation (models): "today's hobbyists are tomorrow's stylists"
0702 X Studebaker Ad
Studebaker: "From the advanced thinking of Studebaker corporation"
0702 X Rambler Ad
Rambler: "The new shape of quality"
0702 X Jeep Ad
Jeep: "Jeep drives ahead with two history makers!"
0702 X Dana Ad
Dana corporation: "Mother's taxi service demands a limited slip differential"
0702 X Plymouth Ad
Plymouth: "Plymouth's on the move"


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