Back in The Day at the Detroit Auto Show

Posted: 01.15.2012
MotorCities National Heritage Area – Making History at the Auto Show

The inaugural Detroit Auto Show, sponsored by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), was held in December 1907. The show was at Beller’s Beer Garden in Riverside Park on Jefferson Avenue in conjunction with hunting and fishing accessories show. Back in 1907, it only cost 50 cents to attend the show and a total of 33 vehicles were shown by 17 exhibitors. Since then, the show has grown from a regional event into a world-class showcase.

Early Detroit shows were characterized by a decidedly patriotic theme. Note the two Wheeler automobiles on display in the center of the photo.In 1910, the show moved to the Wayne Gardens Pavilion. In the years that followed, the show became increasingly popular as the demand and interest for automobiles grew. The DADA was continuously forced to find new and larger sites for the show – one year it was held at a lumber plant, the next at a dance hall, then at the Morgan and Wright Bicycle plant. In an ironic twist to shows debut at a beer garden, the 1917 Detroit Auto Show was held at the Billy Sunday Tabernacle tent on the old Detroit Athletic Club Athletic Field, then called Grindley Field, and soon to become the site of Convention Hall near Woodward and Warren. Despite the unusual venue, the shows held here became some of the most successful “ one year, the interior of the tabernacle tent was decorated to resemble a Japanese garden. Later, the Grindley family completed the permanent Convention Hall in time for the 1924 exhibit, which housed the annual auto shows until the beginning of World War II.

According to Walter J. Bemb, automotive sales pioneer and early president of the DADA, the first shows were surrounded by secrecy. “We would move our display cars into the show auditorium under wraps, and those wraps would stay on until the opening gun sounded.

When the show resumed in 1954, it was held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds at the Convention Hall, which at one time boasted America’s largest exposition area on one floor. The Detroit Auto Show remained at the Fairgrounds for two more years before moving to the Detroit Artillery Armory, where it stayed until 1960.

Consumers have always used the Detroit Auto Show to inspect every square inch of the new models on display, as seen in this photo of the Willys stand at the 1954 show.

What a thrill back in 1954, seated behind the wheel of a shiny, new Studebaker Starliner coupe. The stylish Starliner was designed mainly by Robert Bourke.

1957 marked the first year that international auto manufacturers exhibited at the Detroit Auto Show – domestic models from the Big Three now shared floor space with Volvo, German Isetta, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Porsche.

The Detroit Auto Show was renamed the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in 1989. The NAIAS is a showcase for the worlds vehicle introductions and has ushered in the debut of 1,049 total vehicles introductions since 1989.

Some other interesting facts about the NAIAS:

  • More than 75,000 yards of carpet are used for the exhibits and aisles “ thats enough carpet to cover 750 football fields. And once the show is over, you can purchase the carpet at a reduced price by visiting the Donald E. McNabb Company in Milford.
  • It takes about 10 week to construct the NAIAS. Fifteen years ago, this was accomplished in four days, but todays exhibits are larger and more unique. Some exhibits even have two or more floors.
  •  Some exhibits are actually built twice – once in Europe or Asia as a test-run and then the exhibits are dismantled and shipped overseas to the NAIAS for final construction.
  • Every year, several architectural magazines visit the NAIAS and write about the design of the exhibits, as well as the building techniques used in their construction.
  • More than 1,500 carpenters, stagehands, electricians, Teamsters, riggers and ironworkers are employed full time to construct and dismantle the NAIAS and they typically work 12-14 hour days and include some double shifts.
  • 1,732 people ensure the show’s daily operations including: 200 janitorial workers; 500-700 catering personnel; 65 vehicle polishers; 135 car porters, 87 full-time Cobo Center staff members and 20 additional part-time Cobo Center staff members; 75 NAIAS permanent and temporary staff; and 450 auto show security personnel.
  • The NAIAS exhibits are collectively valued in excess of $200 million, excluding the value of the more than 700 vehicles in those exhibits.

The 2012 NAIAS will be held January 14th – 22rd. For more information regarding hours and ticket sales visit

For more information about other iconic figures, go to MotorCities National Heritage Area at

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Corvettes America Car Show to Donate to Leader Dogs and Karmanos.

Americas Corvette Club

December 1, 2011 West Bloomfield, MI

 Corvettes America, the premier Corvette show in Michigan, will present a check for $3000 to Leader Dogs for the Blind and another check for $3000 to the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute at the December 6th meeting ofAmerica’s Corvette Club.  Representatives from both Leader Dogs and Karmanos will be in attendance to accept these donations and talk with club members.

America’s Corvette Club of Michigan meets the first Tuesday of every month at7:30 PMin the showroom of Cauley Performance Automotive,7020 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield, MI 48322 at 7:30 PM

Corvettes America celebrated its 11th anniversary this year, drawing automotive enthusiasts from across Michigan as well as surrounding states andCanada. It also has national ranking, regularly drawing participants from California, Florida,Texas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New York State among others.  The show, which is the largest all Corvette show within a two hundred mile radius of Detroit, is an all volunteer effort staged by members of America’s Corvette Club of West Bloomfield under the direction of President Richard Heldenbrand and Show Chairperson Jim McDonald.  America’s Corvette Club, which is sponsored by Cauley Performance Automotive of West Bloomfield, is the largest Corvette club in Michigan and ranked fourth in size nationally. Proceeds from the show each year are donated to local and national charitable organizations. 

Cauley Performance Automotive, George Matick Chevrolet, UBS Peninsula Wealth Management Group and Lingenfelter Performance Engineering were the primary sponsors of the 2011 Corvettes America Show. 

For more information on Corvettes America visit Those interested may also send an e-mail to or call (248) 249-3688.

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Christmas is Just Around the Corner

And we’ll put up a good old Michigan Christmas Tree in Jim’z Garage.  Maybe decorate it with a bunch of Genuine GM (or Ford, or MOPAR) parts.  But it won’t go up ’till after Thanksgiving.

Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor.
This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Oh…. Yes there is! It is time to think outside the Box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Santa's new ride... See the USA in your Chevrolet...


Everyone– yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.  Buy something Made in the USA from the National Corvette Museum.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese-made flat-screen TV?  Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.  Buy an American car from your hometown dealer.

Just huntin' Christmas trees...

There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.
Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan  your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.
And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community.

If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US (We the People), encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we could not imagine.
THIS is the new American Christmas tradition!!

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Corvettes America Show Report

October 25, 2011 | written by Bill Connell

11th Annual Corvettes America Car Show Grows Despite the Rain.

America’s Corvette Club of Michigan engineered an excellent outing for mid-August this year with their Alpine Valley Corvette Show (named after the physical location in White Lake, Michigan).  The event began with overcast skies, which were briefly followed with a light shower, but then the day opened up with pleasant temperatures under partly cloudy skies.

Approximately 350 Corvettes joined for a judged Show & Shine Competition (with many prizes), an NCCC Sanctioned People’s Choice Competition, a used Corvette Corral, a good number and variety of vendors, a charity benefit silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, and food offerings.  By the way, $6000 was raised for donation to charity, half each to Leader Dogs for the Blind and the Karmanos Cancer Institute.  All generations of Corvettes were well represented, and many, many sharp looking cars were present.  A good sized contingent of cars even came all the way from Texas, California and other parts of the USA!

The two major sponsors of the show this year were George Matick Chevrolet and Cauley Performance Automotive, both of which had large blue and white striped tents to attract interested customers.  Other vendors present included The National Corvette Museum, American Custom Industries, ARESCO Auto Lifts, Callaway Cars, Corvette Central, D.J. Race Enterprise, Galli Shirts & Sports Apparel, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering,  and Paragon Reproductions.

Thanks to all who participated, and see ya next year, August 11th for the 12th Annual Corvettes America!

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Fall Color and Classic Car Show in Clarkston

Fall Classic Car Show Independence Oaks Park, in Clarkston, Sunday October 2, 10AM

Hang Out with the Hoods

Classic car owners and fanatics are invited to the Fall Color Car Classic at Independence Oaks. More than 16 different car classes compete, including muscle cars, street rods, corvettes, sports cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles. Trophies, giveaways, a 50/50 raffle and food concessions are available. A 2011 Annual Vehicle Permit or daily pass is required for park entry (excluding classic car owners). Classic car owner registration cost is $12 in advance or $15 on the day of the event. Proceeds from the event support Alhambra Charities’ mission to assist those with developmental disabilities. For more information, contact Lou Schneider at 248-673-2826.
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Doin’ Woodward in your Vette? Remember the Kingsley?


BLOOMFIELD HILLS,MICHIGAN August 17-19, 2011. Organized by Larry & Verna Courtney 

If you’re a Corvette owner, you love cars, then there’s nothing in the world like the Woodward Dream Cruise! The Woodward Dream Cruise in Metro Detroit is a grass roots phenomenon that has grown into the WORLD’S LARGEST one-day automotive event.

During Dream Cruise Week in 2003, we were looking at all of the great cars going by and thought, wouldn’t it be great if for just one night, Corvettes would take over Woodward during Cruise Week.  We hurriedly called all of our Corvettes friends fromAmerica’s Corvette Club and asked them to join us for a cruise down Woodward.  Seventy five club members participated. This was the beginning of Corvettes on Woodward.

The beginning cruise evolved intoMichigan’s largest allCorvette Food Driveand Cruise and the largest All Corvette Event within a 400 mile radius ofDetroit.  The charity we support is the “Open Hands Food Pantry” inRoyal Oak,Michigan. 

 Last year over 400 Corvettes from all over the US and Canada came to participate in the now, three day event that includes tours of the GM Heritage Center, GM’s private museum and the GM Performance Build Center, home to the engines for the Z06 and ZR 1.  Tours include trips to Katech Performance, Advanced Automotive Technologies, Spectre Werkes, Race Car Replicas, MasterWorks Automotive Services, and Alternative Automotive Technologies.   We have a track day at Milan Drag Waysponsored by MasterWorks and meet and greet parties at the Moose Preserve and Hooters. Donations of food and money are the only registration fees.  Please send us an email if you are attending and what tours you would like to go on Corvettes on WoodwardAugust 17-19, 2011. Don’t forget your donations.

 The RADISSON HOTEL of Bloomfield Hills,Michigan (did you go to the Kingsley Inn before the Prom?) is the host for all of the events.  They allow us unlimited use of the parking facilities, and give every Corvette owner a discount on the room rates.  This year it was decided that the RADISSON will be selling food with a ‘Made inMichigan” theme.  The menu is Coneys, Better Made Potato Chips, Fago Soda and Vernor’s Ginger Ale.  The staff of the hotel donates their time at the food booth to ensure everyone has a great time.  Our DJ, Eric keeps the crowd singing and dancing.

The Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic, muscle, street rods, custom, collector and special interest cars like the Corvette cruise the 16 miles of Woodward.   Each year, from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the former Soviet Union; North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada and all points in between caravan to Metro Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer.

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