MotorCities National Heritage Area

By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automotive History Collection
Posted: 01.16.2018

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The North American International Auto Show will once again open its doors to the public from Jan. 20-28, 2018. In 2017, the event attracted more than 800,000 people to the downtown area and this year is sure to be another great event. The annual show will highlight many of the Detroit area’s greatest looking automobile designs to the public, and in addition to the public, the NAIAS attracted hundreds of automotive journalists from around the world as we all as industry execs.

In 1967, the Detroit Auto Show, as it was originally known, was celebrating 50 years. It was also the year for the introduction of the new 1968 automobiles that were on display. The show was under the direction of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, and the official program date was Nov. 18 through Nov. 26.
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The show included “Cars and Stars await your pleasure,” by Mr. Harry Tennyson other special exhibits such as “1968 models spur bright outlook,” by Mr. Thomas C. Mann and most importantly, “1968 year of intermediates,” by Mr. Tom Kleene. Mann, who was president of the Automobile Manufacturers Association at the time, said, “On behalf of the car and truck manufacturers Association I congratulate the dealers of greater Detroit for their united effort in preparing this excellent display of the industry's 1968 models. The 52nd annual Detroit Auto Show is the caliber that one would expect in the automobile capital of the world.”
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During the show, visitors had a chance to see all the new 1968 models that had all the latest features with an emphasis on safety. The 1968 models introduced quite a few new safety features including absorbing steering columns and steering wheels, dual brake systems with warning light locks that prevented doors opening accidentally from the inside. Other features included 1968 engineering trends and recreational vehicle exhibits.
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The 1968 automobile exhibits provided many great and colorful displays that the public thoroughly had enjoyed. Of course, a show of this magnitude at the time was the culmination of dealers and factory personnel working together. Some visitors at the time had the opportunity to see intriguing mechanical displays, cut-away engines and chassis models, along with numerous innovations that demonstrated the many advances in the new 1968 models. Mid-sized vehicles had undergone a major transformation during that time as General Motors, Ford and Chrysler had completely restyled their cars in the intermediate class. Car companies decided to do this based on industry and market predictions that 1968 would be a big year for the intermediates.
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It was also the year for the 1968 Corvette which now lives as an American classic. It was the only true American-built sports car. American Motors (AMC) at the time was relying on the Javelin sporty car to boost their sales for the company, and Ford’s Mercury division offered great styling for its vehicles that included the 1967 Cougar. The highly successful Cougar sporty car had few noticeable changes for 1968.

The 52nd Detroit Automobile Show also introduced many imports that were the highlights for the show. Many models were introduced such as the 1968 Austin Healy 3000 along with the Cortina, Triumph and Volkswagen models.
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In conclusion, the travel trailer popularity was gaining fast among campers along with long rides and family vacations that were creating more interest among Americans.Truck campers were also becoming very popular among sportsman who enjoyed the outdoors. The recreational vehicle exhibit area was located in hall D at the 52nd annual Detroit auto show. The exhibit offered the air-stream trailers along with other and great looking recreational vehicles for the buying public.

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