The North American International Auto Show will open after the holidays. It is a huge, gala affair, to say the least. Just about every global manufacturer debuts new cars and trucks at the show, along with their concept vehicles, and they have lots of giveaways or “swag” for attendees.

There is also a major preview party that, over the years, has grown into one of the largest annual charity events in Detroit.

Last year, about 815,000 people attended the show. The record was 838,00 in 2003.

New York claims it had the first automobile show in 1900. But, don’t you believe it! A year earlier, in 1899, a sporting goods dealer in Detroit had a show at the Detroit Armory and decided that, along with baseball gloves and balls, he would show a few of the latest cars. Granted, in 1899, there were only a handful of “new” cars since the automobile industry was just beginning large-scale production. In 1901, for example, Olds Motor Works led the world when it built 425 Curved Dash Olds. 

I found an interesting article about the auto show in the January 1, 2003, issue of the JN’s Style magazine in the William Davidson Digital Archives. It focused on the “new” crossover vehicles, which now dominate the roads. There was a feature story on two fellows that bought new Hummers. Unfortunately, Hummers became extinct shortly after gasoline reached $4 per gallon.

The articles also prove one point — in a blink, the automobile industry will change, and 2003 is already ancient history.

Mike Smith
Detroit Jewish News
Foundation Archivist