MotorCities National Heritage Area
grandfather_grandson_car-cropped.jpg

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection
Posted: 01.09.2017


file 20170109164157 1967 Detroit Auto Show
First I would like to say Happy New Year to all the great readers of MotorCities National Heritage Area Story of the Week, and I hope 2017 proves to be a very prosperous and great year for everyone.

We will kick off the 2017 Story of the Week focusing on something a little more current – The North American International Auto Show. Of course back in 1967, it was called the Detroit Auto Show. It is really hard to believe that this show has been around for more than 50 years.

The cars back then were great looking and offered many great features for the viewing public. It was a time when many Americans were listening to the sounds of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer,” and other popular bands at the time on WKNR- Keener 13 radio.
file 20170109164302 1967 Detroit Auto Show1967 Camaro ConvertibleThe 1967 show was called the 51st annual Detroit Auto Show which was presented under the direction of the “Detroit Auto Dealers Association.” The show was featured at Cobo Hall from Nov. 26-Dec. 4. Adult admission at the time was $1.25 at the door with children 12 and younger only paid 50 cents.

“Safety” was the big buzzword for that auto show with the 1967 models featuring more safety related features than ever before. For example, some of the new cars had absorbing steering columns, dual cylinder brake systems and most importantly, padded instrument panels. The show introduced more than 500 models including over 200 domestic cars and 85 imported vehicles and 200 recreational vehicles as well.
file 20170109164334 1967 Detroit Auto ShowPontiac GTO displayed at the 1967 Detroit Auto Show.The Detroit Auto Show also introduced the new sporty Camaro for 1967, which became a huge sensation with consumers who had thoroughly enjoyed the new design. The sporty cars such as the Camaro, Cougar, Mustang and the Plymouth Barracuda and GTO, all had represented the fastest growing segment of the automobile market.

The late Mr. Roy Abernethy, who was the Chairman of the Board for the Automobile Manufacturers' Association stated this about the 1967 Detroit Auto Show, “The excitement and air of anticipation surrounding this 51st annual Detroit Auto Show signify that it is more than a display of automotive products. It and similar expositions are symbols of the automobile industry's dynamic growth, its annual rebirth in the form of new and improved motor vehicles.”
file 20170109164520 1967 Detroit Auto ShowMach I Mustang Concept Car for the 1967 Detroit Auto Show.The show also introduced many great imports such as Austen-Healey, BMW Citroen, Datsun Fiat, Jaguar Saab, Simca, Toyota, Triumph and Volkswagen were all a part of the 1967 show.

The purpose of the show was to give the consumer a chance to look over the new 1967 models and to compare the pricing information and talk to people who knew about automobiles and their features. There were displays that emphasized safety features along with popular recreational vehicles that included compact vans equipped for camping, a variety of travel trailers and pickup trucks and camper units. There also were several motor homes on display for those who needed that added vacation along with the new Ford Bronco and Jeep Universal four-wheel drive vehicles as well.

Attendance rose that year to more than 250,000 people who traversed the more than 400,000 square feet of interior showroom floor.
file 20170109164556 1967 Detroit Auto ShowPlymouth display for the 1967 Detroit Auto Show. The show also included many great looking show car themes that included new and exciting engineering models. For example, the Ford display featured the all new Mustang concept which many people thoroughly had enjoyed. The 1966 Ford Mustang Mach I concept Auto Show image that is a part of this story featured a two-seater fastback with a very aggressive looking chopped roof profile. The show car had traveled the auto shows across the country for the 1967-1968 show season. The Mach I concept car never saw production but certain cues were utilized in production on the 1969 models.

In conclusion, even 50 some odd years ago, the Detroit Auto Show was a great piece of our automotive heritage in the city and beyond. And today, the North American International Auto Show continues to grow and celebrate Detroit’s automotive fervor.

A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program.

For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. (Bibliography: Smith, C. David. “The Sporty Look Has Taken Over.” Detroit Free Press, Sunday November 27, 1966.)

If you would like to contribute an article for the MotorCities newsletter, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 313-259-3425.