Touted as "The outstanding show in the country," by then Chevrolet General Manager E.M. Estes, the 60th edition of The Chicago Auto Show offered visitors a look at more than 450 vehicles and 50 accessories and equipment displays. Show officials recommended a three hour visit in order to properly tour the many exhibits. By 1968, American's love of high performance autos was at its zenith. An example was the Dodge Charger R/T that offered an amazing 425 horsepower, 426 Hemi V-8. However, the growth of muscle car popularity was on its way to an untimely demise. Two things ultimately brought America's relationship with the muscle car to a halt. First was the introduction of emissions controls and second was the skyrocketing cost of insuring high-performance autos. Although gasoline prices remained stable, Americans began to show an interest in conservation, and high-MPG automobiles became increasingly fashionable. On the right is a photo of the decorative "Geo-Sphere," which highlighted the entrance area for the Chicago Auto Show.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley is seen presenting the money prizes to eight winners of the Safety Slogan contest, which was held annual before the auto show in Chicago high schools. The scene looks like it was in the office of the Mayor.
A poster promoting the 1968 Chicago Auto Show is seen on the side of a State Street bus, as it makes its way through the downtown area. Note the portion of a Volkswagen Beetle in the foreground.
Large number of people are lined up at one of the entrances to the International Amphitheatre, waiting to tour the 1968 Chicago Auto Show. Free parking was available adjacent to the exposition hall.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley cuts the ribbon at a turnstile entrance to officially open the 1968 Chicago Auto Show to the public. The 60th annual show was held at the International Amphitheathre, Feb.24-March 3.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley sits behind the wheel of an Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight convertible during the 1968 auto show. Executive Show Committee Chairman Lawrence P. Faul is in the backseat, and Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) Executive Vice-President and auto-show manager Edward L. Cleary is in the front passenger seat. A costumed female presenter, wearing a plumed hat, stands next to the car's door
Ford Motor Company president Semon E. "Bunkie" Knudsen posed in front of the new Continental Mark III hardtop coupe in the Lincoln's exhibit. New for 1968, the Mark III personal-luxury coupe made its world premiere at the Chicago Auto Show. It was a direct descendant of the graceful Continental Mark II of 1956-57. Knudsen had previously been head of GM's Chevrolet division, before moving over to Ford.
People are standing, others are seated in folding chairs in the International Amphitheatre Arena, waiting for the "Motorevue of 1968" to begin. More people are seated in the permanent viewing area, on two levels. Musicians are in place at the rear of the stage. A full-scale stage revue returned this year, but then would fade into history.
Entertainers, one wearing a turban and plain pants, performed a skit onstage to help introduce the 1968 Oldsmobile Cutlass hardtop during the "Motorevue of 1968" stage revue.
Three female performers wearing "mod" minidresses helped introduce the Pontiac GTO hardtop coupe during the "Motorevue of 1968" stage revue.
Female performer posed onstage in front of a 1968 Checker Marathon sedan, during the "Motorevue of 1968." Checker continued to sell its sedans and station wagons to the general public, as well as to taxicab fleets.
Male performer wearing comic suit does his routine along with a 1968 Imperial hardtop sedan during the "Motorevue" stage show at the 60th annual Chicago Auto Show. This was the final year for the musical revues. Imperials received a new grille for '68, and came in Le Baron, Crown, and Crown Coupe trim levels.
Photographed from outside the Chrysler's exhibit space, a Newport convertible is on the right. Simulated woodgrain panels decorated the bodyside of this model, offered as a mid-season special for $126 extra. A 440 cubic inch Firepower TNT V-8 engine is mounted on a display stand under the large Chrysler sign at the entrance.
Within the Dodge exhibit, a ventriloquist performs with a puppet to help promote a new Coronet R/T (Road/Track), the performance-focused version of Dodge's mid-size hardtop coupe. A young woman on the platform wears a minidress with "bumblebee" striping, to match the black stripes on the car's rear fenders. A sizable crowd has gathered at the presentation. A convertible Coronet R/T was also available that year.
NASCAR stock-car driver Cale Yarborough posed with his racing Mercury at the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit during the 1968 Chicago Auto Show. Wearing number 21, the car featured “427 C.I.” on its hood, which designated the displacement (in cubic inches) of the vehicle's V-8 engine. Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times, with his first win coming in 1968.
Large crowds are photographed milling through the dozens of different exhibits, including one for Pontiac seen in the foreground. A sign proclaimed that Pontiac was "Third in Sales, and Gaining."
Auto-show visitors seated in the balony of the International Amphitheatre Arena, overlooked a string of imported cars. From the bottom: Jaguar XK-E, Honda 600, Renault 10, MG-B GT coupe, Mercedes-Benz 230 sedan, Volvo P1800 coupe, Datsun PL510, Citroen DS21 station wagon, Toyota Corona, and Opel Kadett Rallye coupe.
A large sculpted elephant wearing a "Mini-Brute" sign was part of the exhibit area for the German-built Opel, marketed by Buick dealers. Barely visible behind the elephant is an LS sport coupe. A station wagon can be seen at far left, and a fastback coupe at right. Opel Kadetts came with three different 4-cylinder engines, depending on model.
A 280SL roadster posed by a decorative wall in the Mercedes-Benz exhibit. The two-seater moved up to a 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine that year, which generated 180 horsepower, a gain of 10 more than the previous models.
Young woman wearing white shorts, red jersey and white cap opened the front-hinged hood of the Italian-built Fiat sports car to expose the engine.
Members of the auto-show crowd gathered around Mercury's "Salute to Good Sports" exhibit, where a contestant armed with a golf putter attempted to "Putt for Prizes."
On a special platform with in the Mercury exhibit, a young boy is tossing a football while an Andy Frain usher reaches down to pick up a second football. People waited in lined for their turn to throw the ball and win prizes. Contests are part of the fun at the annual Chicago Auto Show.
Cadillac exhibited a custom version of its front-wheel drive Eldorado coupe that featured an open top over the front chauffeur compartment and landau roof covering the rear passengers. Called the Eldorado Biarritz, this Caddy was powered by the large 429 cubic inch V-8.
In this close-up shot, a female presenter is seated inside the Chevrolet Astro I show car, while her male colleague speaks to the crowd. Based on the rear engine Corvair compact car, Astro I sat on an 88 inch wheelbase and powered by a mid mounted air-cooled six cylinder powerplant. A hatch lifted behind the windshield, and the seat rose to meet the passengers, then descended and reclined to allow the low roof. A periscope rear view mirror looked over the blind rear quarters.
A high angle photo captured a densely-packed crowd as they listening to a female annoucer talk about the experimental Chevrolet Astro I show car. The Astro I featured an electric swing-back roof (raised in this scene), plus power elevating seats for entry and exit. Like nearly all concept vehicles, it never saw production.
Two views of the Dodge Charger III dream car at the 1968 Chicago Auto Show. The two-seater had a 184-inch overall length, and stood just 42-inch high. Design details include concealed headlights, special rear airfoil and taillights hidden under side flaps. At the push of a button, the canopy top rose up, the two-bucket seats elevated eight inches, and the steering wheel instrument cluster swung away. A periscope rear-view mirror was mounted in the top of the canopy.
No engine was mentioned, but it was hinted that the 426 cubic inch Hemi V-8 would fit into the engine compartment.
A rare color photograph of the futuristic Dodge Deora show truck at the 1968 Chicago Auto Show. Based on a '68 Dodge A-100 van, the Deora was designed by Harry Bradley, and featured an all metal body hand formed by the famous Detroit-based Alexander Brothers. The windshield was hydraulically raised and the single front door swung open. For easier entry/exit, the steering wheel would swing out of the way. The power plant was the 170 cubic inch Slant Six engine, located in the covered truck bed. Speedometer and tachometer were floor mounted on the drivers right and other gauges were in the sidewall panel.
A female presenter posed alongside the futuristic Dodge Deora show truck at the 1968 Chicago Auto Show. A large crowd has gathered around the display, many finding it hard to believe that the custom Deora was based on a '68 Dodge A-100 van. All metal body work was handled by the famous Detroit-based Alexander Brothers, from designs by Harry Bradley. The windshield was hydraulically raised and the single front door swung open. For easier entry/exit, the steering wheel would swing out of the way. The power plant was the 170 cubic inch Slant Six engine, located in the covered truck bed. Speedometer and tachometer were floor mounted on the drivers right and other gauges were in the sidewall panel.
Occasionally in the 1960s, trucks were modified and featured as special show vehicles by the manufacturers. For 1968, Dodge grabbed attention at the Chicago Auto Show with its D-100 Scat Packer pickup truck. Custom touches included Bumble-Bee stripes that ran vertically on the rear fenders and deep-dish chrome reverse wheels.
The Ford Bronco Dune Duster roadster first appeared at the 1966 Chicago Auto Show, and then returned two years later during the 1968 show. Ford commissioned Barris Kustom of North Hollywood, California to construct the Dune Duster four-wheel drive vehicle. Based on the six-cylinder Bronco roadster, Dune Duster was finished in a specially formulated golden saddle pearl, and featured an NHRA-approved roll bar with intergral headrests, as well as walnut appliques and exposed chrome exhaust pipes,
Manufacturers were courting the youth market in the late 1960s with muscle cars like the 350 horsepower Oldsmobile 4-4-2. During the 1968 show, Olds featured the “Mod Rod” factory custom 4-4-2 convertible. The Cutlass-based ragtop was painted in colors that blended from pearl white in front to yellow in the center and metallic orange at the rear. Female models dressed in outfits that matched the design and materials featured in the car’s interior were on hand to describe the special car to an enthusiastic crowd. A small sign in the background promoted Olds’ new Rocket 455 V-8, installed in its larger models.
A custom Cutlass 4-4-2 convertible called "Mod Rod," was a highlighted vehicle in the Oldsmobile exhibit at the 1968 Chicago Auto Show. Olds assaulted the youth market in the late Sixties with its sporty muscle cars like the 4-4-2, which debuted in 1964. Available for 1968 were versions of the 400 cid V-8 engine that produced from 290 to 360 horsepower. Portions of other Oldsmobile models can be seen toward the rear in this shot