After America’s involvement (1941-1945) with the global Second World War, the first official new car automobile show to be held in the United States was in Chicago, from Feb. 18-26, 1950. This would be the 42nd edition of the Chicago show, billed as the largest in the nation. The show was held at the International Amphitheatre, Halsted Ave. at 43rd Street. Major news stories on the show highlighted independent auto manufacturer Kaiser and Frazer debut of their 1951 models at the '50 Chicago event. Chevrolet and Pontiac introduced hardtop models, and Nash premiered the compact Rambler. The stage show revue was titled, "Wheels of Freedom," and by the end of the nine day run, the auto show drew 478,000 visitors to the south side of the city. Pictured on the right are two show “messenger/pages” posed with the chrome-plated “overbite” grille teeth of a 1950 Buick from General Motors. Inset is an example of the lapel badge worn by the Exhibitors, Press, Chicago Mayor Kennelly, show officials and others.
CATA president Frank H. Yarnall (left) and show chairman James F. McManus looked over a scale model of the stage setting for the 42nd Chicago Auto Show, containing murals of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. This would be the first show held since World War II. The actual murals stood 24 feet tall.
A painter works on the image of Abraham Lincoln, while CATA general manager and show manager Edward L. Cleary studies drawings of the design. Portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, each 24 feet high, were said to be the biggest-ever paintings of the two presidents. Both likenesses served as backdrop curtains for the "Wheels of Freedom" stage revue, which was held twice daily during the 1950 Chicago Auto Show.
An artist and his assistant are seen discussing the very large painting that served as one of the curtains for the Chicago Auto Show stage revue in 1950. The artwork pictures the Wells Street Plaza of the forthcoming Congress superhighway (Interstate I-290). Cloverleaf interchanges and limited-access freeways were a new idea in the early postwar years. Today, I-290 runs westwards from downtown Chicago and a portion is officially called the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. It’s also nicknamed as the Eisenhower or “the Ike.”
A "community queen" appeared onstage with a 1951 Kaiser during "Wheels of Freedom" revue at the 1950 auto show. Performers and additional community queens were positioned in the background and commentator/soloist Alexander Gray was on the right. Prior Kaisers (1947-50) had been more boxy in shape, but 1951 Kaisers were sleeker and considered quite stylish.
A ‘community queen’ posed onstage with a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan convertible during the ‘Wheels of Freedom’ revue. Costumed members of the Frank Bennett Singers were positioned in the background, along with additional community queens. The enormous illustrated scenery showed the cloverleaf interchanges of the forthcoming Congress Superhighway that would extend west from downtown Chicago. Opened in 1956, the road was renamed Dwight Eisenhower Expressway on January 10, 1964
Close-up shot of a "community queen" dressed in an evening gown, posed onstage with a 1950 Plymouth Special DeLuxe convertible, during "Wheels of Freedom" revue. Costumed members of the Frank Bennett Singers and additional community queens were positioned in the background. The '50 Plymouth received a minor facelift after a total redesign in 1949.
Close-up shot of a "community queen" dressed in evening gown, posed on onstage with a 1950 Packard convertible, during the "Wheels of Freedom" revue. Costumed members of Frank Bennett Singers and additional community queens were in the background. All Packards had eight-cylinder L-head inline engines and were offered in three series: basic Eight, Super Eight, and Custom Eight.
A "community queen" poses alongside a 1950 Nash four-door sedan, as part of the "Wheels of Freedom" stage revue. Performers and additional community queens are positioned in the background. An usher is on the left, and commentator/soloist Alexander Gray on the right. Nash's "upside-down-bathtub" fastback design had been introduced in 1949, and used for the Nash Statesman and Ambassador series.
One of the "community queens" dressed in evening gown, appeared on stage with a chauffeur-driven 1950 Willys Jeepster Phaeton, during "Wheels of Freedom" revue. Costumed members of the Frank Bennett Singers were positioned in background, as were additional community queens. Introduced in 1946 as part of the Willys civilian vehicle lineup, the phaeton had side curtains instead of roll-up windows.
A "community queen" in evening gown onstage with a 1950 Dodge convertible, during "Wheels of Freedom" revue. Costumed members of the Frank Bennett Singers and additional community queens were in the background. Facelifted for 1950, all Dodges used a six-cylinder L-head inline engine and Fluid Drive, with a semi-automatic transmission.
A "community queen" in evening gown posed onstage with a 1950 Studebaker Starlight coupe, during the "Wheels of Freedom" revue. Costumed members of the Frank Bennett Singers and additional community queens were positioned in the background. Studebakers were known for their "Is it coming or going?" profile and new bullet-nose front end.
Dancers kicked their legs high during the stage revue, with orchestra in foreground. Performers in the "Wheels of Freedom" revue included the Melba Cordes Dancers and the Frank Bennett Singers. Neighborhood "queens" also participated in the revue, helping to introduce the new car models.
Close-up view of eight male members of the Frank Bennett Singers, dressed in costumes of the American Revolution. The men performed during the "Wheels of Freedom" stage presentation.
Twenty young "community queens" dressed in evening gowns and posed together for a portrait. The auto-show program described a "galaxy of gorgeously gowned glamor girls chosen as queens in Chicago communities and suburbs, who will appear in a 'Pageant of Pulchritude' number," as part of the "Wheels of Freedom" revue.
Eight costumed gentlemen, members of the Frank Bennett Singers, performed onstage during the "Wheels of Freedom" revue. Illustrations of different forms of historical transportation, which included a covered wagon and steam locomotive, were used as background artwork.
Commentator/soloist Alexander Gray sang onstage (at right) during "Wheels of Freedom" stage presentation, along with the Melba Cordes Dancers, Frank Bennett Singers, several "community queens,” and a live orchestra, under the direction of Ralph Foote.
Scene shot in the Chevrolet exhibit showed several models, including a convertible at left. Like most American cars, Chevrolets had received new bodies for 1949, facelifted a bit for 1950. A Powerglide automatic transmission was new this year, along with a hardtop coupe body style (second from right, at rear of photo, ahead of a station wagon).
Lincoln attempted to draw visitors to its exhibit with an exposed chassis that revealed the car's flathead V-8 engine. Production Lincoln models seen, include a Cosmopolitan convertible at the right and the front end of another Cosmopolitan at left. Until 1949, Lincolns had been powered by V-12 engines.
Scene at the Ford exhibit showed several body styles, and a cutaway model near the center of the image. The all-new postwar body style had debuted a year earlier. Ford still offered the flathead V-8 engine that had been introduced back in 1932.
Characters and their creator from the popular Kukla, Fran, and Ollie television show pose together inside a Ford convertible during the 1950 Chicago Auto Show. Pictured from left to right are Kukla, puppeteer Burr Tillstrom and Ollie (Oliver J. Dragon). The puppets appeared on TV from 1947-1957 along with Chicago comedienne and singer Fran Allison.
One of the auto show's "community queens" sat inside a 1950 Chevrolet convertible with the fabric top lowered. Signs with Chevy's slogan, "America's Best Seller," was featured through out the exhibit. Chevrolet was redesigned for 1949 and had a mild facelift for 1950. All came with a six-cylinder engine, and the Powerglide automatic transmission was an all-new option.
Some people considered the Studebaker somewhat strange in styling--perhaps appropriately matched by the gown worn by the "community queen," who posed next to a Champion convertible. Most Studebakers had six-cylinder engines, but a V-8 became available during 1950. Champion was the lowest-priced Studebaker model.
Olympic track star Jesse Owens (holding microphone) is being interviewed by radio station WJJD at the auto show. Pictured are (left to right): CATA president Frank H. Yarnall; show manager Edward L. Cleary; James F. Goodwin; sports announcer Vince Garrity; Jesse Owens; an unidentified gentleman; show chairman James F. McManus, Jr.; and Ralph J. Scheu.
Six high school students pose with their winning entries in Chicago's safety slogan contest, which was held in conjunction with the annual auto show.
Several International stake-bed trucks and a few people were photographed together during the 1950 show. In the foreground, blocked by two men, a small display featured the Super Blue Diamond engine. Although its trucks were known for dependability, the International company produced no passenger cars.
Front view of a 1950 Chevrolet stake-bed truck dominates this scene, along with fabric-wrapped support columns. A Chevy panel truck is partially hidden by one of the pillars. In the Fifties, trucks were sought for their practical utility, not as a fashion statement.
In the center of the Chevrolet truck exhibit was a custom built panel van with a transparent plexiglass panel that covered the cutaway section of the vehicle's side panel.
Individual ads for Motorola and Pontiac from 1950, promote that these two major brands would be among dozens of others on exhibit during the 42 edition of the Chicago Auto Show. The nine day affair. was held at the International Amphitheatre on Halsted at 43rd Street, using all of the 225,000 square feet of exhibition space.
A scene outside of the display booth for the Anderson-Prichard Oil Corporation, billed as producers and refiners. Two large drums of Apcoseal automotive undercoating were at the entryway, and smaller containers on a counter in the back of the booth.
Close-up view of eight female members of the Frank Bennett Singers, dressed in hoop skirts and bonnets. The ladies performed during the "Wheels of Freedom" stage presentation.
Actor dressed as a "Keystone Cop" blows a whistle at an early touring car and the riders on a tandem bicycle. This was one of the performances during the "Wheels of Freedom" revue, featuring an orchestra under the direction of Ralph Foote.
Cadillac exhibited the one-of-a-kind Debutante convertible at the 1950 Chicago Auto Show, which was the first major show in the United States since World War II. General Motors announced at the time that the $35,000 Debutante was "the most luxurious car ever built by Cadillac." The exterior was painted Canary Yellow, and its six-passenger interior was upholstered in leopard skins, which included the floor, seats, and portions of the door panels. Highlighting the cabin were 24-karat gold plated knobs, instrument panel, bezels and fittings.
Chicago Mayor Martin H. Kennelly (third from left) with members of the Chicago Auto Show committee and Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) executives admire the Nash N-X-I prototype. Under the hood of the experimental N-X-I was the tiny Fiat 500cc engine that produced 18-horsepower. The N-X-I prototype evolved into the two-seat Nash Metropolitan sold by American Motors from 1954 through 1962. Left to right: CATA president Frank H. Yarnell, CATA vice-president Ralph J. Scheu, Mayor Kennelly, show chairman James F. McManus, Jr., show manager Edward Cleary, and James F. Goodwin.