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A Look At Detroit's First Auto Show

To most Michigan residents the words “Cobo Hall” and “auto show” are practically synonymous.

After all, since 1965, the grandaddy of all auto shows – the North American International Auto Show – has been held inside the downtown Detroit venue.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Back in 1960, shortly after the Cobo opened its doors, it hosted its first auto show: The National Auto Show.

Held traditionally in New York City, the shift to the home of the Big Three Automakers was considered a momentous event. So momentous that President Eisenhower and celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich were among the 1,000,00 people to show up. The show itself was broadcast nationwide on CBS.

Read a fascinating narrative about this show by renowned automobile historian Robert Tate here.

Priceless Photo Preservation had the honor to digitize a collection of stereo slides that included about a dozen full-color images of the show – including some spectacular tableaus of the main display floor. (If you are unfamiliar with stereo slides, they were the equivalent of a do-it-yourself Viewmaster. You looked at the two images with a special viewer to get a simulated 3-D effect. You can see some more examples of historical stereo slides, also known as stereographs, in the New York Public Library’s online collection).

We put together a video that includes some of the interesting stereo slides in this collection we were honored to digitized. They are a wonderful slice of Motor City History. Enjoy!

For a free consultation on digitization of your slides of any kind including stereo slides and Kodachrome, contact Priceless Preservation today at or (734) 219-3916.

To see more slides scanned by Priceless Preservation, visit our Slide Page.

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