Among the inaugural events at Chicago's new McCormick Place was the 1961 Chicago Auto Show. For the first time all American and imported cars and trucks were in one vast arena, as the $35 million facility provided over 300,000 square feet of exhibit space. The nine-day extravaganza took over 850 man-hours to assemble. Of more than 400 cars and trucks on view, visitors were able to examine the new compacts including the Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85, Dodge Lancer and Pontiac Tempest. On the right, an outdoor billboard promotes the 53rd edition of the Chicago show at the new McCormick Place exposition center.
Three executives discuss an artist's painting of the proposed stage design for the 1961 Chicago Auto Show. The scene was taken during the CATA Press Luncheon on February 7, 1961, at the Drake Hotel. Pictured are (left to right): CATA executive vice-president and show manager Edward L. Cleary (holding show program); CATA president Maxwell S. Evans (pointing at artwork) and CATA director and show chairman Don C. Mullery On the right, a performer dressed as an American Indian princess smiles for the camera on her way to the stage to entertain the crowds during new car presentations.
Long, high-angle view looks down upon the Chevrolet exhibit under construction before the opening of the 1961 Chicago Auto Show. In the foreground is a four-door hardtop equipped with a clear plastic hood that exposed the 409 cubic inch V-8 engine underneath. Directly behind is a rear view of an Impala convertible with the softtop still covered in protective plastic..Note the exhibit crew members setting-up the special spot for a custom Corvair two-door sedan, which is wearing wire wheel rims and racing stripes running from the front bumper, over the hood, roof and rear lid down to the back bumper.
A behind the scenes photograph taken two-days before the opening of the 1961 Chicago Auto Show, captured the Dodge convertible display under construction. Located on the main floor of the brand new McCormick Place exposition hall, a construction crew are working to complete one of the revolving circular platforms. A large sheet was partially draped over the full-size Dodge convertible to protect it from debris. Dodge offered a softop in the Dart Phoenix ($2,988) and Polara series ($3,252).
Two Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) city buses are parked in front of the original McCormick Place (1961-1966), in a nighttime photo shot outside the front entrance. Notice the free-form sculpted artwork in the vertical recesses of the building.
Onstage in the new Arie Crown Theatre, several entertainers, one dressed like a policeman, are performing a skit along with a 1961 Buick convertible. Their actions are coordinated with live music and voice-over commentary on the virtues of the Buick. Photographed from the sunken orchestra pit area in front of the stage.
Onstage in the new Arie Crown Theater, entertainers costumed as cheerleaders are performing a skit along with a 1961 Pontiac Tempest four-door sedan. Their actions are coordinated with live music and voice-over sales commentary on the Pontiac compact car. Notice the rear-projected name on the back curtain.
On the top floor of the new McCormick Place, inside the Studebaker exhibit, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (under the letter in front of the convertible) stands next to WGN announcer Vince Lloyd (hand over mouth) as he waits to be interviewed for television. The car behind the mayor is a 1961 Studebaker Lark convertible. In the center, sportscaster Lloyd Pettit, with microphone in hand, is interviewing show manager and executive vice president of the CATA, Edward L. Cleary. Notice the Chevrolet Corvette String Ray concept car on the raised platform, to the rear of the Studebaker exhibit space. Introduced in 1959, the experimental String Ray name was spelled as two words, and predicted the stunning exterior of the 1963-67 Corvette String Ray.
A Falcon four-door sedan is set in a special display at the Ford exhibit on the upper floor of the new McCormick Place. Notice the use of "Charlie Brown" and the other "Peanuts" cartoon characters to promote the Falcon. On the side of the display are small speakers that can be held to one's ear to hear detail information about the Falcon.
Many models are positioned in the completed Chevrolet exhibit on the top floor of the new McCormick Place exposition center. A production 1961 Corvette is on the far right, with the sensational Corvette XP-700 show car behind a fenced-in platform. That vehicle originally was released in 1959 and predicted the rear wraparound lines on the 1961-62 Corvettes. Full-size Chevrolet models, now devoid of tailfins, can be seen center and on the left.
A very large crowd, including two sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, swarmed around an eye-dazzling floor display, featuring illuminated letters that spelled out Pontiac, suspended overhead of a one-of-a-kind 1961 Pontiac Bonneville convertible show car. Among its features were fur-lined interior panels.
Several models are positioned in the Imperial exhibit space on the upper level of McCormick Place. In the foreground is a Le Baron Southampton four-door hardtop, with a rearview of the Imperial convertible behind. Note the tall, sharp tailfins on Imperials, at a time when other manufacturers were abandoning that form of body design.
Inside the Chrysler exhibit on the upper level of the new McCormick Place, a smiling female model poses in front of a special display touting the new Astra-Glow lighting system. The unique lighting illuminated the dashboard gauges on the 1961 Chrysler automobiles. On the right, the Fiat Jolly marketed by Fiat, was popular with young consumers.The Jolly saw success as transportation at tropical resorts and recreation centers.
A Mighty Mite 1/4-ton 4x4 vehicle (model M-422) is on display at the exhibit space for American Motors Corporation. The railed-off display shows the Mighty Mite with its hood opened, exposing the air-cooled engine. Another aluminum V-4 engine, with transmission, sits next to the vehicle. A highly legible poster alongside the vehicle lists specifications.
Several 1961 Rambler American compact models are in this scene at the American Motors exhibit space, including a convertible on a raised platform in the center, and a two-door station wagon on the far left. The car on the far right is a 1961 Rambler Custom four-door sedan.
Behind a roped-off area at a special exhibit for the Meister Brauser Racing Team is a racetrack scene with the Meister Brauser II Scarab race car. Two male mannequins are dressed as pit crew members. Meister Brau beer was a division of Peter Hand Brewery Company.
A young female model is behind the steering wheel of a 1922 Model Checker Taxi Cab, as part of a special attraction in the Checker Motor Company exhibit. The sign in this photo states that the taxi was built in Chicago and nicknamed, "Ol Man River."
Built in Germany, an Amphicar is shown in a display that includes a small pool of water and surrounding flowers. The car is tilted on one side to give a better view of the undercarriage of the vehicle and its boat components. The Amphicar was "the car that swims," and able to operate as a boat or car.
At the Simca exhibit, several models are on display. The French-built Simca during this period was imported to America by Chrysler. In the foreground is an Etoile four-door sedan. Behind this car is an exposed Simca engine and chassis. On a raised, rotating platform sits the dramatically futuristic Simca Fulgur concept car.
Several vehicles are displayed at the Willys Jeep exhibit, but not prominently in this shot. On the far right side is a special exhibit promoting the television series titled "Hong Kong," which co-starred Jeep vehicles. A rear view of the Willys station wagon is in the center of the photo, with a mini delivery van behind the wagon.
At the Plug-In Travel "Coffee-Break" Kit booth, a woman demonstrates how the immersion heater device plugs into the cigar lighter and fits in a plastic cup to heat water for instant coffee or soup.
Appearing together in this small exhibit space was a combination of British-built 1961 Jaguar and Daimler models. In the front row are (left to right): Jaguar 3.8 four-door sedan, Daimler SP250 sports car, and Jaguar XK150 fixed head coupe. Behind them is a Jaguar Mark IX four-door sedan.
A 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL convertible with roof up is posed in the foreground of the Mercedes-Benz and DKW Auto Union exhibit space. Further back, in front of a large painted mural of Stuttgart, Germany at night, is a Mercedes-Benz 190SL two-door coupe. The front end of a 1961 DKW Junior can be seen behind the white "P" letter sign.
Three British-built cars occupy the front row in this scene at the Rootes Group exhibit, on the top floor of the new McCormick Place. Left to right are: Singer Gazelle four-door sedan; Sunbeam Alpine sports car; and Hillman Minx four-door sedan at far right. Toward the rear, a Sunbeam Rapier two-door hardtop is directly behind the Gazelle, and a Hillman Minx convertible is behind the table at center.
Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley (fourth from left) and show chairman Don C. Mullery hand U.S. Savings Bonds to the six winners of the annual high-school traffic safety slogan contest.
At the Ford truck exhibit, several vehicles are on display. In the center foreground is an Econoline pickup truck, with an Econoline van on the far right. The front of a Falcon 2-door panel wagon is in left center of this scene, ahead of a Falcon Ranchero on a raised platform.
At the Fiat exhibit, many Italian-built automobiles are on display. In the foreground (partially blocked) is the "Jolly" sedan (beach buggy). To the left of the Jolly is a 1500 roadster, with a 1200 4-door sedan on the far left. To the right of the Jolly is a 1200 roadster. A 2100 4-door station wagon is on the far right, and a glimpse of a 1960 Mercury front fender is at lower right.
Chevy brought the Stingray racing car, first seen in 1959, to the 1961 Chicago Auto Show, after the car was retired in late 1960. The fiberglass body was penned by Larry Shinoda and predicted the shape of the 1963-67 Corvette. Original power came from a fuel injection 283 cubic inch V-8, but later the Stingray prototype featured a Mark IV 427 cubic inch V-8 engine. The sign on the far right states: “Corvette Stingray – An Experimental Vehicle to Test Handling and Performance.” Notice that Stingray was spelled as one word.
First shown in 1959, the Chevrolet XP-700 was revised in 1960, and a big hit when exhibited at the 1961 Chicago Auto Show. The newest version featured a longer and narrower front end section, a double bubble plastic roof complete with a periscope rear-view mirror, and wraparound extended tail end the influenced future Corvette styling. Originally painted red, the version that appeared during the '61 Chicago Show was finished in pearlescent silver, which matched the silver cockpit.
Chevrolet exhibited the Impala Special convertible during the 1961 Chicago Auto Show. This one-off two-door ragtop featured a unique exterior mother-of-pearl paint; real wire wheel hubs, restyled interior trim, and specially contoured front bucket seats.
A close up view of the tail end of the Simca Fulgur concept car during the 1961 Chicago show. Fulgur is Latin for “flash,” and Simca stands for "La Société Industrielle de Méchanique et de Carrosserie Automobile." Atomic power and radar were features mentioned on this futuristic vehicle
Simca of France displayed the Fulgur concept car during the 1961 Chicago show. Atomic power and radar were features mentioned on this futuristic vehicle. Fulgur is Latin for “flash,” and Simca stands for "La Société Industrielle de Méchanique et de Carrosserie Automobile"