"June in January" was the cheerful theme for the 1956 Chicago Auto Show, where for the first time, all exhibits appeared on the ground floor of the International Ampitheatre (top right). The 48th edition of the nation's premiere auto show offered debuts of the Plymouth Fury hartdop, Chrysler 300B and Dodge Town Wagon. A handful of imported models appeared, including the French-built Simca convertible, and Volkswagen from Germany, from the Beetle sedan and convertible to Microbuses and pickup trucks. On the lower right, smiling for the camera are eight of the 21 community queens, posed sitting in a 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible,
All 21 "community queens" posed together in street clothes, unlike the formal gowns they appeared in during the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. Each is wearing a shoulder sash indicating the neighborhood they represent.
CATA publicity directors Walter A. Bermingham (left) and Dan T. Desmond (center) pose with photographer Toivo Kaitila, who shot most of the publicity photographs for the 1956 Chicago Auto Show.
Four men (two of them CATA show officials) pose outside the Amphitheatre, standing next to the official show car for the 48th Chicago Auto Show. The vehicle is the luxurious 1956 Imperial four-door hardtop manufactured by Chrysler Corp. Second from the left is executive vice-president and show manager Edward L. Cleary, and at far right is CATA director Jerry H. Cizek. Note the second generation 'gunsight' taillight sitting on top of the car's rear tailfin.
Onstage during the revue, a teenage girl speaks with Mayor Richard J. Daley (left), WGN announcer Jack Brickhouse (holding microphone), and an unidentified man. The girl appears to be one of the winners of the annual high school safety slogan contest.
Lou Breese, orchestra leader of the stage revue at the 48th Chicago Auto Show, is playing his banjo, while accompanied by a young woman on the upright piano. The rehearsal scene is in one of the conference rooms of Chicago's Conrad Hilton hotel.
A "community queen" stands alongside a chauffeur-driven 1956 Continental Mark II two-door hardtop, during the "Motorevue of 1956" stage revue at the Chicago Auto Show. Sleek and stylish, riding a unique chassis, the Continental was considered a separate make--a beautifully crafted follow-up to the classic Lincoln Continentals of 1941 to 1948.
A "community queen" stands alongside a chauffeur-driven, two-tone 1956 Buick Roadmaster four-door hardtop, during the "Motorevue of 1956" stage revue at the Chicago Auto Show. Buicks were facelifted this year, after a full redesign for '55.
A "community queen" stands alongside a chauffeur-driven 1956 Cadillac Eldorado Seville two-door hardtop, during the "Motorevue of 1956" stage revue at the Chicago Auto Show. For the first time, the Eldorado line included a hardtop as well as the usual convertible (dubbed Biarritz).
A "community queen" stands alongside a chauffeur-driven, two-door 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air four-door hardtop, during the "Motorevue of 1956" stage revue at the Chicago Auto Show. Wholly redesigned a year earlier, Chevrolets got a facelift for 1956 with a fresh grille, taillights, and bodyside trim.
A "community queen" stands alongside a chauffeur-driven, two-tone 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk hardtop coupe, during the "Motorevue of 1956" stage revue at the Chicago Auto Show. Evolved from the low-slung 'Loewy' Studebaker coupes of 1953, the Golden Hawks came with a 352 CID Packard-built V-8 engine that produced 275 horsepower. Studebaker also offered a Flight Hawk, Power Hawk and Sky Hawk in 1956.
Inside the Studebaker exhibit, a "community queen" sits behind the wheel of a two-tone 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk hardtop coupe, during the "Motorevue of 1956" stage revue at the Chicago Auto Show. The Golden Hawks was fitted with a 352 cubic inch, Packard-built V-8 engine that produced 275 horsepower. Studebaker also offered a Flight Hawk, Power Hawk, and Sky Hawk in 1956.
In this pre-show scene, the Plymouth exhibit is under construction. The rear tail fin of a 1956 Plymouth Fury is visible, surrounded by large brushed metal structures that simulate jet aircraft tail design. Chrysler Corp. selected the Chicago show to debut the new Plymouth Fury model to the public. A '56 Plymouth Belvedere convertible is posed on a ramp in the background.
Pre-show scene reveals the Nash and Hudson exhibit that is under construction, looking across to the Ford exhibit. The car in front, seen in 3/4-rear view, is a 1956 Hudson four-door sedan. A Rambler wagon is next to the Hudson. Visible in part on the far right are the tail of a Studebaker, and above it the rear of a 1956 Ford. The Ford Mystere dream car is under covers. On a turntable sits a Ford Sunliner convertible.
Pre-show scene looks into the Mercury exhibit that is under construction. The only vehicle in the photo, seen in 3/4-rear view, is a Mercury Custom convertible, with its top up.
In a section of the American Motors exhibit on the auto-show floor, three Rambler Custom models are on separate raised platforms (one of them slanted) in a roped-off area. A rear view of the four-door sedan (left) reveals the "basket handle" roof band that sets off the three-tone paint scheme. The other two models are a four-door hardtop (center) and a four-door station wagon. A lone woman is standing at left. Ramblers were marketed by both Nash and Hudson dealers.
Transporters dominate the foreground of this scene at the Volkswagen exhibit, along an outer wall at the Amphitheatre. A passenger-carrying Microbus is at right, next to a Volkswagen pickup truck (with one side panel down). Three complete Beetles and one Beetle chassis also are in the display, as is a stylish Karmann Ghia at far left.
Formally-dressed musicians are performing at the small Borg-Warner exhibit on the auto-show floor. Eight violinists and one accordionist are entertaining the strolling crowd. Note the famous Borg-Warner trophy at the top of the display.
At the Citroen booth, a number of people have stopped to take a closer look at the futuristic and innovative DS19 four-door sedan. Notice the uniformed security guard (left) and the African-American porter (right).
Close-up shot of a 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman four-door hardtop. The car is on a raised, rotating platform, with a female model posed alongside. The sign above the woman's head states: "56 DeSoto designed for the Super Highway Age."
On a platform with rotating floor was the 1956 Dodge Custom Royal La Femme four-door hardtop --unabashedly aimed at women. LaFemme was truly feminine, including pink accented interior. Designer accessories included a matching raincoat, rain hat and umbrella. The hardtop in the photo was painted in La Femme’s exclusive Regal Orchid over Misty Orchid two-tone combination.
In the aftermarket area of the auto-show floor, two young boys enjoy cruising in a peddle powered, scaled version of the 1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible.
On the auto-show floor, a crowd is milling around the Simca exhibit. A close-up view of the convertible is in the foreground. Several signs tell of the low ($1,695) price and appealing gas mileage of the four-door sedan model, advising that the car is made in France.
Various Cadillac models and body designs are on display in this scene at the company's exhibit space. In the left foreground is a two-tone Eldorado two-door hardtop. Behind it, on a raised platform, is the concept Brougham four-door hardtop. An Eldorado convertible is on the far right, next to the DeSoto exhibit.
Close-up shot on the auto-show floor features two special Dodge cars. The car on the left is a Lancer D-500 two-door hardtop. At right rear is the Custom Royal four-door sedan that shattered performance and endurance records at Bonneville.
Unusual high-angle shot looks down into the Plymouth exhibit. A Belvedere convertible is the main focus of this scene, with a great interior view of the car. Two female presenters are standing on the sloping platform, with the top-down Belvedere. Several other Plymouths and DeSotos can be seen among the crowd.
Debuting in 1955, the Buick Wildcat III was exhibited at the Chicago Auto Show in January, 1956. It was one of the earliest four-passenger fiberglass concept cars and housed an extremely powerful V-8 engine with 280 horses and a four-barrel carburetor. This was the third version of Buick's Wildcat in as many years. Hood sloped forward; parking, directional lights were housed in bumper bombs, and air intakes helped cool brakes.
The Eldorado Brougham dream car from 1955 was exhibited on an elaborate turntable inside the Cadillac exhibit during the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. Previewing future trends like quad headlights and front swiveling bucket-style seats, the Eldorado Brougham used center-opening doors. Air outlets were located in rear doors flush with body panel, and the abbreviated tailfins flowed back into outer rear bumpers forming the "quad" exhaust system. Crown by a stainless steel roof, the overall height was less than four and one-half feet, yet body length with “Dagmar” front bumpers reached 210 inches. That’s nearly a foot longer than the base model 2008 Cadillac Escalade. High-performance was supplied by a compact 270-horsepower V-8 engine. Interior featured recessed controls for greater safety, front radio speaker titled upward for better tone qualities, and knickknack pockets built-in between the front seats.
First shown to the public in 1955, the Flight Sweep I appeared in the Chrysler exhibit during the 1956 Chicago show. Standing only 53.6-inches tall, the 4-passenger convertible featured smooth, clean bodylines with upswept tailfins, integrated bumpers and a windshield that sloped sharply at 56 degrees.
Chrysler Corporation unveiled the experimental Plainsman 'idea station wagon' during the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. Mounted on a 115-inch wheelbase Plymouth chassis, the two-door wagon accented a Western theme with its "Palomino beige" finish, gold-colored Texas longhorn medallion and hand-worked bronze trim which was chrome plated. A unique cantilever, stepped roof contained a centered louvered ventilator that provided draft-free ventilation of the eight-passenger cabin, and the padded white fabric top covering the rear two-thirds of the all-steel roof was weather-resistant. Clever idea on the Plainsman that made its way into the 1957 station wagon models by Chrysler Corp. was the spare tire and wheel hidden behind the right wheel and accessed via a lift-up panel.
In September of 1955, Ford released photos of a futuristic body design for a car that would be propelled by a gas turbine powerplant. On display during the 1956 Chicago extravaganza, the prototype show car had no engine, although provisions were made to fit one under the rear deck. Cargo and spare tire were housed under the front hood. A large bubble of glass served as roof, windows and windshield. Hinged at the back the canopy could be opened up 70-degrees, front seats would swivel outward and passengers could easily enter and exit through half-doors. The scoop at the top of the windshield supplied fresh air into the 4-passenger cockpit. A radiotelphone was housed in a console between the two rear bucket-type seats, and the aircraft-type steering wheel was a "throw-over," meaning that the car could be driven from either front seat. Other modern features were pushbutton ignition switch, padded dash and a television set behind the front seat.
Debuting in mid-1955, the futuristic GMC L'Universelle dream truck was exhibited at the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. This concept called for a front wheel drive with engine and transmission located behind the front axle.
One of Mercury’s most memorable dream cars of all time is the audacious XM Turnpike Cruiser from 1956. Bold styling featured 12-inch wide V-shaped taillights and matching pealescent concave-sculpted rear fenders. The XM Turnpike Cruiser’s large, flat roof seemed to float above the two-tone interior. Twin transparent roof panels flipped-up when doors were opened.
Crowds were awestruck by the Packard Predictor dream car as it revolved on a turntable during the 1956 Chicago Auto Show. Painted pearlescent white, the ultra-modern two-door hardtop featured hidden headlights, wrap around and wrap over windshield, retractable roof panels, see-through tail fins, and exhaust ports in the rear bumper. Predictor was equipped with torsion-level suspension, a 300 horsepower, 374 cubic inch Packard V-8, and an Ultra-matic transmission with electronic push-button control. Though only 4.6 ft. high, Predictor was 18.5 ft long.