In 1902, several automotive trade publications ran extensive reports on the Chicago Auto Show. Some of the news stories were embellished with whimsical artwork, as seen here. Articles told about the endurance tests at the show between steam, gasoline and electric machines. Big news was that storage batteries had improved enabling electric vehicles sufficient power for a day's running. A growing trend was customers wanting smaller vehicles they could operate on their own, instead of chauffeur-driven rigs.
The second annual Chicago Auto Show is again held at the Coliseum, which will continued to be the main venue for more than three decades. Admission was 50-cents in 1902 and the show featured a total of 100 vehicles. In this rare scene from the event, the Beardsley & Hubbs Manufacturing Co., displayed the Darling gasoline automobiles in four different styles. Across the aisle is the Fournier-Seachmont Co. from Philadelphia, and Locomobile at the back of the hall.
The very first Rambler automobile, which debuted at the Coliseum on March 1, 1902, was manufactured by the T.B. Jeffery & Co. of Kenosha, Wisconsin. A total of 1,500 were built that year, making the Rambler the world’s second mass-produced car -- a year ahead of Ford and a year after Oldsmobile. The 1902 Rambler "runabout" was equipped with a one-cylinder engine that produced 12 horsepower.
A major attraction during the 1901 and ‘02 Chicago Auto Shows were the ‘Stationary Racing’ demonstrations. In a back room of the Coliseum, autos were placed on friction wheels, which were adjusted so that the power necessary to turn them was equal to ordinary roadwork. Between the two vehicles was a large dial around which swept hands of different colors. Each circuit of the dial represented one-quarter mile and the movement of the hands represented the exact travel of the autos on the rollers. The Moffett Vehicle Bearing Co. of Chicago supplied specially constructed roller bearings.
One of the greatest attraction on display during the 1902 Chicago show was the $8,000 machine operated by Henri Fournier. Fournier was a French chauffeur who established three world's records in 1901, and drove the two-seat automobile a mile in record time of 51.6 seconds on New York's Coney Island Boulevard.
Advertisement for the 2nd annual Chicago Auto Show promoted "Exciting Speed Contests," which referred to the stationary racing demonstrations. Due to all floor space filled with exhibitors in the Coliseum main hall, there was no indoor test track. Two major attractions included the Seventh Regiment Military Band and the Great Fournier's Racer, an $8,000 machine operated by Henri Fournier. A total of 100 vehicles from 36 manufacturers displayed "every development of the carriage without horses." More than 60 percent powered by gas engines rather than steam or electrics.