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The Fabulous GM Motorama


The year was 1949, the television had yet to become a mass marketing tool. The best way of advertising your product was to expose it in as large a gathering as possible. GM discovered a fantastic way of accomplishing this, it was called "Motorama". There were eight shows held between the years of 1949 and 1961. These were the grandfather of the modern automobile show. During those 12 years they played to an audience of more than 10 Million people in a total of eight different cities.

The shows introduced such well known car names as Corvette, Nomad, Biscayne, Corvair and Impala. Actually the first shows of 1949-50 were called "Transportation Unlimited" and not Motorama.

They were held in New York and Boston and over half a million people attended.
As a result of General Motors military commitment to the Korean War no shows were held in 1951 and 1952.

1953

In 1953 the term "Motorama" was first applied and the extravaganza began. It opened in the Grand Ballroom of the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel on New Yorks plush Park Avenue.

The budget was guessed to be close to one million dollars. Remember this was 1953!

The 1953 Motorama was the birth place of the American sports car. This was the year Chevrolet would introduce a two seat, fiberglass sportscar named Corvette. It would be rushed into production in just a few short months from this day.

This year more than one and a half million people viewed the shows which were also held in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, and Kansas City.


 


1954

New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and now Chicago had replaced Dallas and Kansas City.

Attendance was now over two million people and the crowd was treated to a peek at the experimental "Corvette Nomad".

The crowd feedback was so positive that Harley Earl then head of General Motors styling section called Detroit and asked to see the car ( Nomad ) on a 1955 Chevrolet. The 1955 Nomad would be displayed at the next years Motorama and could be purchased as well.

1955

New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston was added again.

The show was now costing more than two million dollars and was used to display G.M.s huge line of products ranging from household appliances to earth movers. But the big attraction was as always the dream cars.

1956

New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.

The show budget had now escalated to five million dollars. One needs to remember this was 1956 dollars !! This year Chevrolet introduced the Impala, a car which would be changed a bit and then introduced in 1958 to replace the aging 1955-1957 models. It was longer and lower and would represent the things to come for Chevrolet owners.


Logistics

The Motorama caravan had now grown to 125 trucks to carry the show which was now including a full orchestra, dozens of automobiles and full mechanical stages that would lift the cars over the crowds heads.

The show was becoming a logistical nightmare of cost and planning.

In 1956 car phones were unheard of but some of the Motorama trucks had them.

 

 
 
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Date Last Updated: July 14, 2017
 
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