Story of the Week

Posted: 01.06.2013
The Biggest Auto Show of All October 15, 1960
By: Robert Tate
It was called the Forty-Third National Automobile show sponsored by the Automobile Manufacturers Association. Cobo Hall first opened its doors to the auto show public on Saturday, October 15 through Sunday, October 23, 1960. The price was 50cents for adults and 25cents for children under the age of 12.

Front Cover of the 1960 National Automobile Show Program Guide
Photo Credit: "The National Automotive History Collection"

This was a first for Cobo Hall in the Downtown Detroit Civic Center and the first time in the 60-year history of the National Automobile show that the event was held outside New York City. Approximately 300,000 square feet displayed all new 1961 American -built cars and trucks in combined areas A, B, and C.

Photo Credit: "The National Automotive History Collection"

The theme of the show was "Wheels of Freedom" and this was a moment when freedom was being challenged throughout the world. Wheels have forced men from burdens and restrictions throughout history. A 60-year old tradition was broken when the Automobile Manufacturers Association decided to stage the 43rd National Automobile show in Detroit's Cobo Hall which cost 54 million dollars to construct.

Photo Credit: "The National Automotive History Collection"

It took hundreds of the nation's major manufactures cooperated to stage the spectacular "Auto Wonderland" show within the show opening at Detroit's new Cobo Hall . Designed as an integrated "World's Fair" type of exposition, Auto Wonderland was a spectacular added attraction to the main event of the Auto Show which featured the automobiles and trucks on stage together for the first time. President Eisenhower was the honored guest and speaker at the show.

Photo Credit: "The National Automotive History Collection"

Visitors to the show observed the complete story of motor vehicle manufacturing -from planning through production-in exhibit form for the first time. A 4-cent commemorative stamp honoring the automobile industry was placed on sale the day of the show Saturday, October 15. The Auto Show was also televised nationally by CBS on Sunday October 16, between 6-7 PM this mark the first time that Detroit starred in a natural role as the “Motor City” since all previous National Auto shows were held in New York. The worlds greatest Auto Show dazzled over 1,000,000 visitors who enjoyed and love the show. A number of special events were keyed into the show, among them the Detroit Symphony Orchestra which featured a special commissioned overture saluting the automotive industry. The dedication for Cobo Hall took place on Thursday, October 13 and during the shows attendance special groups were honored -"City County Employees Day", "Sport Celebrities Day", "Ladies Day" and International day.

Screen legend Marlene Dietrich dropped in during the run of her one-woman show at Detroit's Shubert Theater. She refused to pose in front of an old-time vehicle and told a reporter she only liked black cars. Photo Credit: "The National Automotive History Collection"

Cobo Hall has always attracted millions of people over the years, so let's take a look back at this historic review featuring the opening day at Cobo Hall.. Be sure to visit the North American International Auto Show this year which will be open to the public January 14-27, 2013.

Special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for donating his story to the MotorCities Story of the Week program. If you have a story that you would like to donate to be featured as a MotorCiteis Story of the Week, email Lisa Ambriez at
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