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February 14 - 22, 2015
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Concept Car History
Chicago Auto Show -
Model year 1957 was pivotal for car interest in America. A real break from the recent past, in that prestige and style were key elements of manufacturers' marketing efforts. Engineering advancements were still touted, but the all-new Ford, Chevy and Plymouth were focusing attention on their power, glamor, daring styling and massive size. Middle America could now buy a finned Ford that was more than 17-feet long and less than five feet high that brought more of the things you want than offered before in a low-priced car history. On the right is an example of an Exhibitor badge worn during the nine-day extravaganza, and a rare color photograph from the '57 show, highlighting a new Buick hardtop and Andy Frain usher on stage.
CATA executive vice-president and auto-show manager Edward L. Cleary (seated, left) and CATA president Clarence J. McCorkle are holding posters for the 1957 Chicago Auto Show. Standing behind them are five of the "community queens," who would participate in that year's event. Photo shot on December 12, 1956.
A community queen stands with a Nash Ambassador hardtop sedan during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. Note the hint of a "continental" spare tire, which were installed on many Nash products during that era. For '57, the Nash headlights moved out of the grille and onto the front fenders. Ambassadors came in Super or Custom trim, but the old Statesman series was gone.
A community queen stands onstage, in front of a Hudson Hornet sedan during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. This would be the final year for the Hudson brand, which differed from comparable Nash models only in trim details. Hornet, the last remaining model, came in Super or Custom trim.
A community queen stands in front of a 1957 Packard Clipper sedan, during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. Packards in 1957 were little more than rebadged Studebakers, with different trim, taillights, and grilles. Three more queens and an Andy Frane usher are in the back ground.
A community queen poses with a 1957 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer two-door hardtop during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show that added to the excitement at the International Amphitheatre. The Custom Royal Lancer was the top trim level model for Dodge that year, and listed for $2,885.
A community queen leans on the front door of a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop sedan, during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. Chevrolets received a redesign for 1957. Note the large stainless steel trim strip along the rear quarter panel.
A community queen posed with a two-tone Plymouth Belvedere convertible during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. Like other Chrysler products, Plymouths featured new "Forward Look" styling by Virgil Exner. Convertibles came only in top-of-the-line Belvedere trim priced at $2,638.
Singers and dancers were part of the musical introduction of the 1957 Buick Roadmaster two-door hardtop during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. Additional performers and a musician are visible on the suspended platform at the rear.
A community queen stands onstage, along side a Cadillac Eldorado convertible during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show.
All 20 community queens are dressed in their formal evening gowns with tiaras, while on stage for the "Motorevue of 1957" musical revue, during the 49th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.
Ten of the 20 community queens dressed in evening gowns and tiaras, were photographed holding bouquets of roses during the "Motorevue of 1957" stage show. All of the queens were awarded roses on the closing evening.
A proud grandpa posed with his happy grandkids, while sitting on an example of the 1957 Chevrolet front bench seat during the 49th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.
Two young women, likely community queens who were part of the 1957 Chicago Auto Show, posed for publicity shots while standing on the front fenders of a huge Mack heavy duty dump truck.
Crowd of people gathers around a display featuring a Mercury hardtop coupe. Dramatic restyling gave Mercury models a gaudy look this year. Topping the line was the new Turnpike Cruiser, featuring a retractable, reverse-slanted back window and a "skylight dual curve windshield."
Two men examine an Oldsmobile J2 Rocket V-8 engine that was 371 cubic inches and produced 277 horsepower. The engine was displayed in the Oldsmobile exhibit area. The man on the right is J.F. Wolfram, vice-president and general manager of the Oldsmobile Division.
A porthole-equipped Thunderbird coupe and a full-size Fairlane 500 convertible are partly obscured by decorative posts at the Ford exhibit before the opening of the 1957 Chicago Auto Show. On the left foreground is the a rearview of a Fairlane Club Victoria. Ford came in four series in '57: Custom, Custom 300, Fairlane, and Fairlane 500. Engines ranged from a 144 horsepower 223 cid six cylinder up to supercharged 312 cid V-8 with generated 300-340 hp.
A Suburban station wagon is in the foreground just outside the Plymouth display area on the auto-show floor. The 1957 Plymouth Suburban on the left had a spare tire mounted in the right rear fender, an idea adapted from the Plainsman show car seen a year earlier. In addition to other Plymouth models, an exposed chassis is visible in this photo.
Various Mercury models are displayed at the company's exhibit area on the auto show floor, including a hardtop coupe in the foreground atop a raised platform. Exterior styling was completely new for '57, and quad headlights were the latest styling innovation.
Many Chevrolet models are visible in this photo, taken from above at the company's exhibit area on the auto-show floor. A midrange model four-door sedan is at left; a Bel Air two-door sedan at right. Restyled this year with sharply-pointed fins, Chevrolets came in three series: 150, 210, and top-of-the-line Bel Air. Upscale models featured tapered rear-quarter trim panels.
Taken from above, this long shot of the Chevrolet exhibit area has the utilitarian-looking top of a decorative pillar in the foreground, with a row of cars to its rear. Second in the auto lineup is the stylish Nomad station wagon with its characteristic angled B-pillar, produced only in 1955-57.
Ramblers are featured in this shot taken at the American Motors (AMC) exhibit area on the auto-show floor, including a Custom Rebel hardtop sedan at right (behind ropes). A mid-year addition, the Rebel had a bigger-than-usual V-8 engine, anti-roll bar, Gabriel shocks, and heavy-duty springs. At far left is a Nash Metropolitan, the mini-sized single-seat convertible built in Britain for American Motors.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (far left) visits the Chevrolet exhibit area with four unidentified men. Only a portion of the concept car is visible.
Three Jaguar automobiles are on display at the company's exhibit area, which promotes five local dealerships. In the foreground is an XK140-MC roadster. At left rear is an XK140 drophead coupe. At right rear is a Mark VIII saloon (Mark 8 sedan). Note the wire wheels on the roadster, which sold for $4,160. A sign atop the Mark VIII says "this car designed for Queen Elizabeth."
Close-up highlights the rarely-seen Bristol 405 saloon (sedan), which appeared at the imported-car exhibit area on the auto-show floor. Produced in Britain from 1954-58, the 405 sedan accompanied two-door Bristol models. Note the unusual recessed grille opening with a central driving light, as well as the tiny but pointy tailfins on this model. Even the European manufacturers were beginning to adopt American-style fins.
General Motors displayed the handsome 1957 Chevrolet Cameo pickup truck at the 49th edition of the Chicago Auto Show. The Cameo wore fresh styling ideas, including the innovative flush-body rear fenders overed by plastic panels, and two-tone decorative trim strip. A portion of a Chevrolet chassis/cab is visible at the right.
Stylized schematic drawing of a Ford Fairlane 500 serves as the backdrop for a display of actual Ford parts and accessories. Items pictured include a different steering wheel option, power steering and brakes, V-8 engine, high-performance cam, remote outside spotlight, front fender chrome accents, bumper guards, full-size hubcaps and white sidewall tires.
Long row of imported automobiles is on display in a corner of the auto-show floor. Pictured are (from left): Arnolt-Bristol roadster; Renault 4CV; Renault Dauphine; Morris Minor sedan; another Morris Minor; Morris Minor convertible; MG-A roadster; MG-A coupe; MG Magnette sedan; and an Austin-Healey roadster.
A direct front end view of the V-8 powered Studebaker Silver Hawk coupe is seen in the center of the Studebaker-Packard exhibit during the 1957 show. On the right is a Packard Clipper station wagon. A profile of the supercharged Golden Hawk can be seen in the background.
A massive dump truck with twin exhaust stacks protruding from the center of its hood, occupied a large portion of the Mack exhibit area. Two signs read, "Built Like a Mack," and in the foreground, is a sign for the Ford truck exhibit that was across the aisle.
Two community queens, dressed in evening gowns and wearing tiaras, posed while seated in an antique Rambler runabout. The antique car is positioned behind ropes, in front of a stage curtain.
"Mrs. Iowa" at the 1957 Chicago Auto Show posed next to a DeSoto Firedome Sportsman hardtop sedan on the auto-show floor inside the International Amphitheatre. For model year 1957, DeSotos came in four levels: Firesweep, Firedome, Fireflite, and the high-powered Adventurer series.
Five "community queens" dressed in evening gowns posed inside a Dual-Ghia convertible, which was on display at the Milesmaster exhibit, in the aftermarket section of the auto-show. Produced in Detroit from 1956-58 by Dual Motors, with a body built by Ghia in Turin, Italy, the Dual-Ghia evolved from the Dodge Firearrow show car of 1953-54. Priced at a hefty $7,741, plus $100 for a more potent engine, Dual-Ghias were popular with Hollywood celebrities and people in the Social Register.