By 1953, half of all new American-built automobiles were equipped with automatic transmission. The 45th Annual Chicago Auto Show gave consumers exhibits containing the new, limited-edition Cadillac Eldorado and Buick Skylark convertibles, as well as the European-inspired Studebaker coupe. Visitors also saw the Chevrolet Motorama Corvette prototype months before the two-seat fiberglass sports car went into production. On the right, a "community queen" from the "Stars of Motordom" stage revue is shown kneeling next to the front fender of a 1953 Chrysler Imperial hardtop. Wire wheels, seen on a number of cars at the show, were becoming less common on the street.
Three members of the Executive Show Committee discuss artist's rendering of proposed stage design for the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Pictured are (left to right): Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) president James F. Goodwin; show manager and CATA general manager Edward L. Cleary; and committee chairman Frank H. Yarnall (holding auto-show booklet). Photo was taken during a CATA luncheon held November 12, 1952, at the Saddle & Sirloin Room of the Stock Yard Inn, next to the International Amphitheatre.
Close-up view of a scale model of the approved stage design for the 1953 Chicago Auto Show, which was created by the Becker Brothers Studios. Photo dated February 10, 1953.
Members of Executive Show Committee are on stage during "Stars of Motordom" revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Show chairman Frank H. Yarnall is addressing the audience.
Scene from "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show, viewed from a distant seating area of the International Amphitheatre. A 1953 Henry J with two-tone paint is on the revolving stage, with a "community queen" standing alongside.
"Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show, photographed from behind the orchestra pit in the International Amphitheatre in March 1953. Musicians in the Lew Diamond orchestra are visible in the foreground. Performing onstage are costumed "Starlet" dancers and two singers.
“Stars of Motordom” stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show, in March 1953. Performing in the background are the "Starlet Dancers." In the foreground, a costumed astronomer and an astrologist are engaged in a comical skit.
Interesting view from the seating area of the "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Onstage are costumed female drummers, singers, and the 20 "community queens."
View of "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 45th annual Chicago Auto Show that took place March 14-22, 1953. Onstage are two male acrobatic performers. The top man is balanced on top of a ladder, which sits atop the foot of the bottom man.
High angle view of "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 45th annual Chicago Auto Show, March 14-22, 1953. A 1953 Willys Aero-Eagle two-door hardtop sits on the turntable while a spokesman related to the gathered crowds that Willys Overland was celebrating 50th anniversary of building vehicles, and was "The Shape Of Vehicles To Come."
Close-up view of the stage, from directly behind the orchestra, during the "Stars of Motordom" stage revue. A 1953 Kaiser Dragon four-door sedan is onstage, along with its chauffeur, several "community queens" and an Andy Frain usher. Musicians in the Lew Diamond orchestra are visible in the foreground. Inspired by a 1951 trim option, the Dragon was the most luxurious Kaiser, featuring gold-plated body trim and a padded top.
Close-up view of the stage, from right behind the orchestra, during the "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. A 1953 Dodge Coronet convertible is onstage, along with its chauffeur, a "community queen" and an Andy Frain usher. Dodges were fully redesigned for 1953, and available with a Red Ram V8 engine. This convertible is equipped with an optional "continental" (externally-mounted) spare tire.
Close-up view of the stage, from right behind the orchestra, during the "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. A 1953 Buick Skylark convertible is onstage, along with its chauffeur, a "community queen," and an Andy Frain usher. The Skylark convertible was a new limited-production Buick model, which featured a cut-down windshield, wire wheels and dramatic wheel cutouts, and lacked the usual Buick "portholes," also termed "ventiports." For the 1953 model year, Buick V-8 replaces straight eights in all but the Special models.
Outside the International Amphitheatre in March 1953, a group of 18 men and one woman pose for the camera alongside a chartered bus. Representing Kaiser-Frazer, the group came from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to view the Chicago Auto Show.
A shapely model posed with a chrome-plated display version of the 1953 Willys Hurricane six-cylinder powerplant at the 45th edition of the Chicago Auto Show in the International Amphitheatre. The stock Hurricane engine produced 90 horsepower and allowed 400 to 500 miles on a tankful of gasoline.
Photo taken from outside the Kaiser display at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show spotlights five Henry J models, including the Corsair and Corsair DeLuxe. In the background, partially blocked from view is a railed-off DKF-161 (Darrin Kaiser Frazer) (161 for the cubic inches of the Henry J six), a new fiberglass reinforced sports car. The car in the foreground is a 1953 Ford.
Entering the Buick exhibit at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show features various of the new models on display, including the limited-edition Skylark convertible at the far left. Under its large hood was a 322 CID V-8, rated at 188 horsepower. A Special two-door sedan is parked in the right foreground. It was Buick's least-costly model that year and the only series with a straight-eight engine (other Buicks adopted V-8 engines in 1953). In the background, partially blocked by the Skylark and a pillar, is Buick's plastic-bodied Wildcat dream car. Wildcat nomenclature began a long run with Buick, not only in future dream/concept cars, but production vehicles as well, starting mid-year in 1962.
Photo taken from outside the Ford display area at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show features various Ford models, including a Crestline Country Squire station wagon at right. In the background is a cutaway of a Ford four-door sedan. A Henry J is partially visible in the foreground. This was Ford's 50th anniversary year.
Two female presenters in evening gowns pose next to a Commander Starliner hardtop, within the Studebaker display area at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. The women are surrounded by an enormous crowd of show goers. Designed by the Raymond Loewy team, the 1953 Studebaker had elements of European styling and is considered one of the finest designs of the modern.
Chicago Mayor Martin H. Kennelly (center - with flower in his lapel), posed next to the Kaiser-Darrin sports car. The scene was photographed within the Kaiser exhibit at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show.
Scene within an auxiliary Willys display area featured a close-up view of a 1953 Willys Aero four-door sedan with two-tone paint and wide whitewall tires. A sign advised show goers to visit the main Willys display on the first floor.
Scene within the DeKalb truck body exhibit at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show includes Chevrolet- and GMC-equipped examples.
Several vehicles are visible in this wide, angled shot at the Diamond T truck display area on the show floor during the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Diamond T trucks featured air power steering, as indicated on a display placard.
"Continental kits" (externally-mounted spare tires) were among the products displayed in the aftermarket area of the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Also shown at this display area are U.S. Royal tires and Gay-Lord wire wheel discs. Lincoln had used an external spare tire for its 1940-48 Continental, and the name was used for aftermarket installations in the 1950s. They were available for many different car makes, not all of which looked graceful with a spare tire hung on the back.
Close-up view of the exhibit sponsored by the office of the Illinois Secretary of State (Charles F. Carpentier) at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Robert Young, star of the radio show "Father Knows Best" (heard on WMAQ, 670 AM) is featured on a poster aimed at teenage drivers. The exhibit also includes optical equipment for testing the vision of attendees.
Clown dressed as hobo performs next to miniature car during "Stars of Motordom" stage revue at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show.
Nash-Healey hardtop coupe sits atop a small platform on the show floor. Photo was taken prior to the show's opening, with construction material still evident. Pinin Farina, in Italy, designed the Nash-Healey, which also was available as a convertible.
At the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit area of the 1953 Chicago Auto Show, a Mercury Monterey hardtop sits in the right foreground. Farther back, at center, is the Mercury Bahamian, one of several Monterey-based show car models seen at the 1953 show.
Wide shot of the Chevrolet exhibit area at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show includes a convertible at the center, and a Corvette on a raised platform at the right rear. Chevrolets were redesigned for 1953, with a more squarish body. The Corvette sports car would go on sale later in the year, in small numbers (only 315 built).
Wide shot of the Dodge exhibit area at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show includes a Coronet four-door sedan in the foreground, with optional wire wheels and two-tone paint. Dodges were redesigned for 1953, and could now be equipped with a V8 Hemi engine, named Red Ram.
Tight shot of the Studebaker truck exhibit area at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show includes a pickup truck at left, and a chassis tilted on its side at right.
Wide shot of the Ford truck exhibit area at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show includes several heavy-duty models.
Built on a 115-inch wheelbase, the Cadillac LeMans 2-seater sports car was powered by a high-performance 331.1-cubic inch V-8 engine. Familiar Cadillac styling cues included the P-38 inspired tailfins and decorative side scoops. The front end, especially the grille, predicted the styling of the 1954 Cadillac.
Decades before the production of the Cadillac Allante or XLR two-seat convertibles, there was the sporty Le Mans dream car. Displayed in the Cadillac exhibit during the 1953 Chicago show, the Le Mans also appeared in an advertisement on Sunday, March 15. Powertrain consisted of a beefed-up GM-built 331.1-cid V-8 and Hydra-Matic gearbox.
Little Tim Allen of Joliet, Illinois, is explained some of the refinements of the new Chrysler Special Sports Coupe by Walker Way, executive of the Chrysler Corp. Designed in America and handcrafted by Ghia in Turin, Italy, the car stood only 55 inches high, and the body featured the low sweeping lines found on that era's European sports cars. It was built on a modified Chrysler chassis and wore 17-inch wire wheels wrapped in white wall tires.
The Anniversary Capri convertible was a special Lincoln show car created to celebrate FoMoCo's golden anniversary. It was claimed that Ford used $4,000 worth of 14-carat gold to plate the bumpers, grille and body trim. Three other modified Lincolns toured with the Anniversary Capri: the Maharajah, Midshipman, and Cadet.
Maharajah was one of four show cars that highlighted the Lincoln exhibit during the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Based on a '53 Lincoln Capri four-door sedan, the Maharajah was painted in an ultra-luxurious gold pearl paint, complimented by a white roof and featuring gold trim in the five-passenger cabin. Along with the Maharajah, people attending the 45th annual show had the opportunity to view the Lincoln Midshipman, Cadet and Anniversary Capri factory-built custom cars.
Three factory custom variations of Mercury production models appeared at the 1953 Chicago Auto Show. Seen in this photo is the 'Bahamian,' a Monterey two-door hardtop with a special tan body and dark brown roof. The second custom was an all black convertible named 'Contemporary' that featured a five-passenger interior upholstered in black leather with charcoal and white fabric. Third Mercury special was the 'Kentucky Colonel' four-door sedan, finished in a mint green paint, complimented by a cabin done up in white linen and Milan straw vinyl with mint green welting.
Based on the 1953 Pontiac convertible, the Parisienne Landau Town Sedan featured an open front roof section and Panoramic wraparound windshield. Custom-built for show purposes only, the black beauty wowed the crowds with pink leather front bucket seats, black nylon satin frieze passenger compartment and luxurious black broadtail carpeting. Accenting the entire rear side panels were long, vertical air scoops. Another one-of-a-kind Pontiac flaunted at the 45th annual auto show was called the “Avalon,” which was a production four-door sedan finished in a custom chartreuse and black color combination. Notice the special display on the far left of the Pontiac cutaway body and chassis, which was sliced in half in a manner to retain the lines of the front end, one piece windshield, rear deck and window, yet exposing the differential, drive shaft, transmission and engine. All exposed parts were finished in brilliant color or chrome.