It’s auto show time in Detroit! Today the event is known as the North American International Auto Show, and as the big, long name suggests, it’s one of the most important gatherings in the automotive world. But the Detroit Auto Show, as it was originally known, has roots that reach down into the very origins of the Motor City car industry.
After several informal events starting way back in 1899, the first official Detroit Auto Show by that name was held in 1907. The venue was a colorful place called Beller’s Beer Garden in Riverside Park, where a total of 33 new motor vehicles were shown by 17 vendors, and spectator admission was 50 cents. Beller’s establishment is long gone, but the little park is still there at Jefferson Avenue and West Grand Boulevard in the shadow of the Ambassador Bridge. These early events were held in conjunction with sporting-goods shows—the automobile itself was considered a sportsman’s toy in those days.
As the Detroit car industry grew into prominence, so did the city’s annual new car show, moving to successively larger venues: Wayne Gardens in 1910, Grindley Field in 1917, the sprawling Detroit Convention Hall on Woodward Avenue in 1924. The show remained at the Convention Hall until World War II, when it was discontinued to allow the car industry to focus on war production.
In 1954 the Detroit Auto Dealers Association revived the car show at the Michigan State Fairgrounds, and after two years the event was then moved to the cavernous Detroit Artillery Armory (shown above). Finally, brand new Cobo Center downtown became the show’s home in 1960, and it’s been there ever since. In 1989 the event gained its current title, North American International Auto Show, and global status as well. Now automakers from all around the world display their vehicles here each January.
Over the years, countless Dodge vehicles have been introduced at NAIAS, as industry insiders call the show. Recent examples include the Caravan, Viper and Challenger, to name just a few. Be sure to stay tuned to get a first glimpse at the latest that Dodge has to offer.