At the end of the decade, visitors to the 1969 Chicago Auto Show at the International Amphitheatre continued to enjoy the annual musical stage review, which included live dancers, singers and the introduction of the latest automobiles. A new economy car bows at Ford, the compact Maverick. Chevrolet’s displayed: the T-top Corvette, the compact Nova, and the Camaro pony car. Pontiac launched the first Firebird Trans Am at the show, as a mid-year model. On the right is the decorative "Geo-Sphere" that served as a centerpiece for the Chicago Auto Show.
Four CATA executives discuss a poster for the 1969 Chicago Auto Show. Pictured are (left to right): auto-show manager and CATA executive vice-president Edward L. Cleary; Executive Show Committee chairman William S. Mougey; CATA president Richard V. Lynch; and assistant show manager Ross E. Kelsey.
Executives are at the head table during the annual South Side Day luncheon held by the Economist newspapers at the Saddle Sirloin Room of the Stock Yard Inn, adjoining the Amphitheatre. CATA president Richard V. Lynch is at the speaker's podium. Three guests can be seen in foreground, at another table.
People are walking across Halsted Street to join the long line of people waiting outside the International Amphitheatre to enter the building and see the 1969 Chicago Auto Show.
Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley (second from right) cuts the ribbon to open the 1969 Chicago Auto show to the public. Pictured are (left to right): auto-show manager Edward L. Cleary; CATA president Richard V. Lynch; Mayor Daley; and Executive Show Committee chairman William S. Mougey.
Winners of the annual safety slogan contest, held in Chicago-area high schools, pose with their prizes: U.S. Savings Bonds. Looking on are (left to right): CATA president Richard V. Lynch; Executive Show Committee chairman William S. Mougey; auto-show manager Edward L. Cleary, and Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley.
Male and female performers, wearing outfits from the play "Li'l Abner," are on stage during the musical skit of the Jeep Wagoneer during the "Motorevue of 1969." The theme of the show was "Driving Down Broadway."
In this close-up shot during the "Motorevue of 1969," female performers wearing costumes based on the musical "Funny Girl" pose onstage. No car is visible in this scene, but "Funny Girl" was the backdrop for presentation of the 1969 Imperial. This would be the last stage revue seen at a Chicago Auto Show, following the theme "Driving Down Broadway."
In this wide shot from far back in the Arena of the International Amphitheatre, performers wearing costumes based on the musical play "West Side Story," are entertaining the crowds during the "Motorevue of 1969" presentation of the Buick Electra 225. Members of the Lou Breese Orchestra can be seen in the background. Lou Breese himself had passed away before the auto show began, so the orchestra was conducted by Leo Henning.
In this photo, shot from below stage level during the "Motorevue of 1969," female performers wearing costumes based on the musical play "Funny Girl" are onstage with an Imperial hardtop sedan. This would be the last stage revue seen at a Chicago Auto Show, following the theme "Driving Down Broadway."
Auto-show visitors are shown passing between exhibit areas during the 1969 Chicago event. Man and woman can be seen looking at a car, which is only partially visible in the foreground of this shot. Some visitors are clustered around the Ryba's Fudge booth.
At an unidentified automotive manufacturer's exhibit, young boys are standing at driving simulators, participating in a race contests.
Burry photograph captured the zany mad scientist "Doctor Oldsmobile" and one of his henchman, "Elephant Engine Ernie," performing a humorous skit to auto-show visitors.
TV announcer Jack Brickhouse (left) leads a panel of four sports celebrities at the Lincoln-Mercury exhibit area, including stock-car racer Cale Yarborough (right). Several visitors can be seen at right.
Pontiac debuted the first generation Firebird Trans Am coupe on March 8, 1969, the opening day of the '69 Chicago Auto Show. The hi-performance Trans Am was Pontiac's equivalent of the Chevrolet Camaro Z28. Only 697 Trans Am were manufactured for that model year, most with a 335 horsepower Ram Air III V-8. A 3/4-rear view of a Tempest Custom 2-door hardtop can be seen on the right side of the photograph.
A Corvette convertible is in the foreground of this wide scene of the Chevrolet exhibit, where a modest number of people are inspecting the vehicles. Other Chevrolet models can be seen toward the rear, including a Camaro Z-28 at right and a Chevy Nova (formerly called Chevy II) hardtop at left.
Olympic alpine ski racer from France, Jean-Claude Killy, was a big draw to the Chevrolet exhibit at the 1969 Chicago Auto Show. Fans were handed a brochure titled, "The Killy Way.," and although occasionally overwhelmed, he autographed each of the copies. On the right, Joan Parker, known as the "Dodge Fever girl " from 1968-70, signed autographs for her admirers while inside the MoPar exhibit space.
A panoramic view of the International Amphitheatres Arena from the upper seating, looks down on the large audience enjoying the "Motorevue of 1969" stage show. A sporty coupe is onstage, accompanied by a troupe of female dancers. On each side of the Arena, along the seating areas,are rows of import automobiles.
Datsun's sports car, the 2000 roadster (model SRL311) sits on a raised rectangular platform in this scene at the Japanese automaker's exhibit. Portions of other Datsun models (PL510 sedans and station wagons) can be seen toward the rear. The 2000 roadster used a 1982-cc (121-cid) 4-cylinder engine. Datsun also continued to offer a 1600 roadster with a smaller engine.
Cutaway display of a Series 10 Suburban 9-passenger wagon at Chevrolet's truck exhibit space reveals the vehicle's interior accommodations and its 350-cid V-8 engine. Suburbans were available on a short wheelbase with 1/2-ton rating and 2-wheel drive (C10) or 4-wheel drive (K10); or on a longer wheelbase as the C20/K20, with a 3/4-ton rating. Built on a truck chassis, Suburbans had coil springs all around.
A Jeep Universal sits atop a large simulated rock in the 1969 Kaiser Jeep exhibit, highlighting the vehicle's off-road capabilities. Another traditional-style Jeep may be seen at right, and a portion of the larger Wagoneer is visible at left rear. An engine on a stand is at right rear. In 1970, Kaiser Industries would sell its Jeep operation to American Motors.
Scene at the display booth for International Import Car Parts, which features a kit-type sports car. This distributor of vehicle parts was located in River Grove, Illinois. In its ad in the auto-show program, the company claimed to have more than 500,000 parts in stock.
Tires are mounted on the wall and stored in racks at the display booth for the Hollingshead Tire Center, in the aftermarket section of the Amphitheatre floor. A mock-up of a car's front end can be seen, and visitors were encouraged to register for a daily drawing.
Two men are hawking auto-show programs in the entrance area of the Amphitheatre. A sign describes the program as the "World's greatest auto show publication," with 140 pages containing picture and specifications for all vehicles, plus a floor plan and details on the stage revue.
Buick's Century Cruiser concept car was designed for cruising on automated highways in the distant future. The experimental vehicle offered hands free driving, swivel contour seats, a refrigerator and TV set. When the Century Cruiser entered the expressways, a punched card with programmed routes would take over, piloting the car to the correct destination by information transmitted from electronic highway centers. The car’s progress could be watch on a strip map projected on a radar-like screen built-into the front console. The prototype could be manually operated via pistol grips positioned in the armrests for steering and speed regulation. An entrance canopy slid forward and upward, permitting doors on each side to glide ahead and allow passengers to enter.
High, rearview of the Chevrolet Astro III concept vehicle while on display at the 1969 Chicago Auto Show. Considered a potential high-performance vehicle for restricted-access highways, the Astro III had a tricycle-wheel layout, a rear-mounted Allison gas turbine engine, and rear-vision closed-circuit TV. A low center of gravity would help keep the car stable, and a canopy lifted to provide access to the aircraft inspired cockpit.
Chrysler’s Concept 70X concept car featured parallelogram doors similar to those used on today’s minivans. Interior contained a small ultrasonic electronic device that was mounted next to the rear seat speaker. This component swept an area 50 feet to the rear in three zones: left lane, right lane and immediately behind. When a vehicle entered one of the swept zones, a red warning light lit up on the mirror, often giving as much as .04 seconds warning before impact.
Starting with a 1969 Fairlane, the Super Cobra SportsRoof show car was lowered two-inches and the front clip was stretched by eight-inches. Concealed headlights, wall-to-wall taillights, black metal louvers, and slant back windshield added to the racy exterior. The high performance 428 cubic inch V-8 engine powered the Super Cobra, and featured a tall shaker air scoop that poked through the hood. Custom interior was finished in candy-murano and hot red to compliment the red exterior.
Ford's Thunderbird Saturn II was a personal luxury car of the future. With a hood that was four-inches longer and roof two-inches lower than a stock 1969 TBird, the Saturn II featured special electronic equipment for computerized travel, two-way communications, radar screen and more. The gold metallic exterior complimented the goid metallic fabric interior seats, and the wide wheels had reflective paint on hub centers.
A custom chauffeured driven Continental Town Sedan was displayed in the Lincoln exhibit. It featuring concealed headlights, slanted windshield, glassless front doors, a divider glass partition, and to provide even more privacy, the rear window was reduced in size. Instructions to the driver from the rear seating were done via an intercom system, and the passengers could enjoy color TV and multiplex stereo sound system. The exterior was painted in antique moss pearlescent lacquer, and the interior was trimmed with moss green material accented with gold. Passengers enjoyed the use of a foldaway vanity.
A sure show stopper, the topless Road Runner concept car for 1969 was called Duster I, and came fitted with a 426-cubic inch Hemi-head engine that produced a whopping 425 horsepower. A built-in roll bar adjusted to match high-speed racing, and spoilers located in the rear quarter panels opened to prevent side-to-side yaw when slipstreaming. Smaller front rock shield spoilers helped to reduce frontal lift. Built on a shortened Road Runner platform, the wheelbase was reduced 16-inches to an even 100 inches, and the car rolled on wide H60 x 15-inch tires.
GM recycled some of its dream/concept vehicles in the late 1960s. Such is the case with the Pontiac Cirrus shown at the 1969 Chicago Auto Show. It was redone from the experimental GM-X which was built for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The exaggerated fastback picked up a new nose and was said to have a Pontiac 400 cubic inch V-8 engine. Inside it was still like an aircraft cockpit with 21 dials and numerous control levers. Pontiac did nothing more with the Cirrus name, which eventually ended up on a line of Dodges in the 1990s. .