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New Model Year Showrooms


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I am sure many here remember as I do the excitement about the mystery behind new model year introductions at the various dealerships. This was during an era where designs changed every year. Television ads had masked cars and sometimes gave sneak peeks. Cars were hidden in back lots, showroom windows soaped over and when the "official" introduction date came (usually around October 15th), there would be full blown parties, some formal, complete with searchlights.

I am amazed that cars are so much alike that new model years slide under the radar with no fanfare. Heck, I just saw a commercial for a 2013 model car and it is only the beginning of February!

Does anyone have pictures to share of these events and dealerships to share the memories?

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I somewhat remember that, Dad bought a new Ford in 1961, and I clearly remember looking at the catalog in our dining room and picking out the red and white interior to go with the black Fordor hardtop. I was 10 years old and would use that car to take my drivers lesson years later.

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There was a lot of excitement when the new models came out in the Fifties. Motor Trend would have spy photos of partialy disguised test models leading up to the introduction.

I remember being shocked when I saw a new '57 Plymouth for the first time, when I was walking to Junior High school and it looked like a space age car, so different with the fins!

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I feel for the people who didn't grow up in those times. They missed so much. I remember riding my bike to all the dealers in the mid-fifties that were a stones through from my house. Buick, Ford, Dodge/Plymouth, AMC, Studebaker, and so on..........all gone! I collected all the brochures of each model. I think 1957 was the biggest year for all the makes. Like a poster mentioned, all space age cars. The new Fords stood out the most for me, with their Popeye headlights. I was 11. Beam me up Scotty!!!!

Edited by Skyking (see edit history)
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Yup Same here. All of the dealers were with a bike ride from home. All the kids would wait until the opening day in 1956/57 when all the forward look fin cars were introduced. Think about the way they do it/or don't do it now. They introduce a 2013 in February of 2012. Sure you have a future car now and the sales person does a real good sales(snow) job on you about that. But then 2013 rolls around and you want to trade it in on a 2014 car and that same miserable cretan of a sales person now beats you over the head and disparages the car because this 2013 car has excessive mileage on it.

Go figure.

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Possibly the biggest car introduction blowout was in 1949 when Oldsmobile introduced the "Rocket 88." With that introduction was a little Red Rocket shaped ball point pen give away that every kid hounded their dads to take them to the Olds dealer to get. You couldn't get one by yourself, so dad had to be there. Now you know where Ray Kroc got the idea for "Happy Meals."

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I feel for the people who didn't grow up in those times. They missed so much. I remember riding my bike to all the dealers in the mid-fifties that were a stones through from my house. Buick, Ford, Dodge/Plymouth, AMC, Studebaker, and so on..........all gone! I collected all the brochures of each model. I think 1957 was the biggest year for all the makes. Like a poster mentioned, all space age cars. The new Fords stood out the most for me, with their Popeye headlights. I was 11. Beam me up Scotty!!!!

It is sad that we now live in a disposable, selfish, lazy, and lackluster society. It shows not only with cars but almost every aspect of life including those who live and breath texting. That is their whole life it seems. I believe the computer age has helped in many areas of living but has hurt "civilization".

Even in the late 1960s this was still happening and it was all about who could keep up with or outdo the Joneses hence changes in styles each year. It is now a cookie cutter industry ... no "joy" in driving replaced with road rage and utility vehicles.

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I feel for the people who didn't grow up in those times. They missed so much. I remember riding my bike to all the dealers in the mid-fifties that were a stones through from my house. Buick, Ford, Dodge/Plymouth, AMC, Studebaker, and so on..........all gone! I collected all the brochures of each model. I think 1957 was the biggest year for all the makes. Like a poster mentioned, all space age cars. The new Fords stood out the most for me, with their Popeye headlights. I was 11. Beam me up Scotty!!!!

Those Popeye headlights as you refer to them were not intended. they were actually a last minute design change thanks to the folks making headlights not being able to fulfill the industry volume needs for the lamp sizes dictated by separate low and high beam headlamps (quads). That's why only the top end makes had quad headlamps in 1957 and all Ford and Chrysler cars except for Lincolns, Mercury Turnpike Cruisers, and Imperials had a makeshift headlight setup at the fenders. Since GM was still living on the body design changes of '55 they didn't have an issue and the only '57 GM car to get quad headlamps was the Eldorado Brougham.

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I well remember back in the 40's and 50's when all the new car dealerships were located in downtown Tulsa. New model arrival week was a big deal when all us teenage boys would go from showroom to showroom drooling over the new models. The new cars weren't bad either.

Back then, before the whinney yuppies got auto racing banned, the Tulsa County Fairgrounds, located in the city, had a clay race track with a 1/4 mile oval inside a 1/2 mile oval. The tracks were located next to the Commerce Building and Grandstand. The grandstand located on the top of the building faced the tracks. This huge building was all wood construction. Every saturday night from spring thru fall there were stock car, now called jalopy, races on the 1/2 mile track These were 30's Fords and Chevies.

Anyway, in 1957 one of the two Chevy dealers stored their new 1958 introductory inventory, probably a couple hundred cars and pickups, in the Commerce Building under the grandstand. One saturday in late August or early September myself and a couple of friends went to the races with and acted as pit crew with our hero driver Malcolm Campbell and his 37 Ford. Shortly after returning home at about 11 PM we heard a lot of fire engine sirens and saw an orange glow in the sky in the direction of the fairgrounds. What else to do but hop into my buddy's 46 Ford and head put in the direction of the fire. When we arrived at the fairgrounds the Commerce Building and Grandstand were totally comsumed in a great conflagration (you don't know how long I have wanted to use that word in a sentence). The building and all of the new Chevies were a total loss.

Below is a link to showing the Commerce Building and an ariel view where you can see the tracks next to the building. I didn't find any picutes of the fire in my search.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_ZRrqKbqqvtg/TSYsukbZilI/AAAAAAAAGlE/XtfhN_xm5-k/s1600/Untitled-3.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ZRrqKbqqvtg/TSYsxhW5-jI/AAAAAAAAGlI/APgtV5wsUCY/s1600/Untitled-1.jpg

Edited by Bob Call (see edit history)
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Quad headlights were also illegal in some states. Wasn't until the 1958 models were they allowed.

They were, and some 1957 cars had to have two designs to be legal in all 50 states.

thumbnail.aspx?q=1628246323056&id=b21e5062dbd4296b3a40e6852142ff78thumbnail.aspx?q=1624785821230&id=b03a5e181957eb23b46e375c6b4ca631

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The railroad yard near my house used to be the off-loading point for most new cars in the Pittsburgh area. We used to sit up on a hill above it and see all the new models being off-loaded, sorted, and reloaded onto trucks weeks before introduction time.

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Anyway, in 1957 one of the two Chevy dealers stored their new 1958 introductory inventory, probably a couple hundred cars and pickups, in the Commerce Building under the grandstand. The building and all of the new Chevies were a total loss.

I bet there were a lot of disappointed customers waiting for their cars! Any pictures of the gutted inventory? How did the dealerships handle the loss?

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The railroad yard near my house used to be the off-loading point for most new cars in the Pittsburgh area. We used to sit up on a hill above it and see all the new models being off-loaded, sorted, and reloaded onto trucks weeks before introduction time.

Even though I was also close to the rail yards, ours was mainly coal and not sure where they unloaded the cars? I do remember though seeing new car carriers with cars covered with tarps and such to hide them. (Think carriers are also a thing of the past). I did find one storage yard for Cadillac to get my early peeks. Then went to Rich's Chicken, got my 2-piece wing box box and threw a coin in the jukebox and back on my bike I went. The last time for that I remember was 1969.

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I remember when, for weeks, we were teased, on one of the big TV shows, about the all new Edsel. They would show the car under a cover and, I think, each week they'd give you a little peek. Finally it was time for the big unveiling. With a big flourish and a resounding "Tahhh Dahhh", we finally were allowed the first look at the future. My folks started laughing at the ugliest car they'd ever seen. They've grown on me since, but at the young age of 10, I still had to agree with them

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(Think carriers are also a thing of the past).

During the 1980s there was a spate of new car carrying trains attracting an unnatural number of flying bullets as they traveled along. As a result car carrier train cars now have solid or perforated metal sides that disguise whether they're loaded or not.

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I feel for the people who didn't grow up in those times. They missed so much. I remember riding my bike to all the dealers in the mid-fifties that were a stones through from my house. Buick, Ford, Dodge/Plymouth, AMC, Studebaker, and so on..........all gone! I collected all the brochures of each model. I think 1957 was the biggest year for all the makes. Like a poster mentioned, all space age cars. The new Fords stood out the most for me, with their Popeye headlights. I was 11. Beam me up Scotty!!!!

Amen Skyking .... !!

Some of the most memorable times I spent with my dad centered around new car introductions in the late fifties/early sixties. He was not a car guy per say, but became excited when the new models rolled out. I hope kids today have the same quality time with their dads as I did during this once yearly coming together we shared a long time ago now.

Did I say that I miss my dad .....

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During the 1980s there was a spate of new car carrying trains attracting an unnatural number of flying bullets as they traveled along. As a result car carrier train cars now have solid or perforated metal sides that disguise whether they're loaded or not.

Again, that's the difference between these times and the past. :(

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I always looked forward to the season premier of "Bonanza" in the fall..it always showcased the new Chevys for the next model year.

You know, that's another thing.........Today they can't even advertise a car properly. They have it speeding, sliding sideways, going through puddles, dirt and everything else. Years ago, like Bonanza, or Dinah Shore, they had the car on a turn table explaining and showing the whole car, interior and all........ It made people want to go out and buy one.

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You know, that's another thing.........Today they can't even advertise a car properly. They have it speeding, sliding sideways, going through puddles, dirt and everything else. Years ago, like Bonanza, or Dinah Shore, they had the car on a turn table explaining and showing the whole car, interior and all........ It made people want to go out and buy one.

All true, but just how should one go about selling uninspired, every car looks like every other car styling and blah interiors? At one time we could tell what a car was from any view, front, side, or rear. Today you have to read the name on it and even then you don't know what the heck it is.

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)
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I have lived in Houston and still travel between Houston and Tulsa on I45, US 69 and US 75. The Port of Houston is a major port for new foreign made cars for the south and central US. Every time I'm on the highway I see open car transports coming out of Houston. Also in NE Houston is a large marshalling yard where cars are loaded on trains for shipment all over the US and probably into Canada.

I think that it is probably right that some new cars are transported in enclosed trailers because there are lot of punks in this world that think it's fun to ruin other peo[les property. Don't get me started on how to fix these social problems.

"New" models being introduced nine or ten months before the advertised model year is just stupid. But, there must be stupid people that this marketing angle works on. A new 2013 Whezzy introduced in March 2012 is still a 2012 Whezzy.

Edited by Bob Call (see edit history)
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It's not just cars. Design and culture itself just isn't as important as it once was.

Remember the 2-3 years when you could get avocado/orange/coppertone refrigerators? Remember when you couldn't wear a tie more than 3 years old because it would be hopelessly out of style? Remember when music recorded 10 years ago sounded ridiculously dated? Remember when you could date a suburban house by the size and shape of the windows? Remember dress hats? Remember when dress hats used to change? Remember when you could date a picture of Johnny Carson by the length of his hair and the width of his lapels?

There used to be named ages for popular design: art deco, arts & crafts, Edwardian, post-modern, etc.

Today, if you took a picture of all the houses and all the people on my street, hid the cars/cell phones/ipads/etc. that didn't exist 20 years ago, you would not be able to tell whether it was 2012 or 1992. People look and dress the same. The houses are still all variations of beige. There is no consistent hair style or shoe style that has changed in the last 20 years.

It might be a good thing that people aren't quite so superficial any more. However it does make for a somewhat duller existence.:(

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You know, that's another thing.........Today they can't even advertise a car properly. They have it speeding, sliding sideways, going through puddles, dirt and everything else. Years ago, like Bonanza, or Dinah Shore, they had the car on a turn table explaining and showing the whole car, interior and all........ It made people want to go out and buy one.

You are so right. Don't forget about the loud noises (music?) while the car is racing on. They don't say anything about the car. Many times you don't even know what it is until they flash the logo at the end of the commercial. Sad.

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I am wondering if the cars in our area are being shipped more in closed side trailers rather than the old style ones? Again, I drive the interstates often around town and not a transport to be seen. Not like the days when they were thick as fleas on the road.

I will go even one further on my own post... I worked in the automotive industry for over 20 years before changing careers. This included car dealerships so I am more in tune for this sort of missing presence.

A lot of memories being posted which is a bit depressing - missing the old days but haven't seen any pictures yet :confused:

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I think if I had a camera back then, we'd all be depressed.:(

They were such good times........

Ain't that the truth :mad:

As I mentioned, technology is a good thing if handled properly but people have become obsessed with it to a point that it has overrun and many times ruined their lives.

Kids played outdoors and with one another... not through texting, game boards, or cams. There is a phone commercial out that shows two girls sitting across from one another at a table and rather than talking to one another they are texting... with a hint by the mother to "talk" to one another. The cute movie "Wall-E" shows what I see society becoming in a not so far away future.

People sat down to eat meals as families and not through a drive thru. A car only had depressions on the back of the glove box to sit "small" cups of drinks on while eating. Now every car has a dozen cup holders built in. Another change in society that shadows our obsession with food and being the most overweight country in the world. An adult meal while I was growing up was equivalent to what is now a Happy Meal at McDonalds. Coke came in 7 ounce size bottles which is a "small" drink today and was sufficient. Now a 32 ounce drink is the norm.

We don't have anything to look forward to any longer as in the Cold War era. Dreams of future worlds, space race, jets and designs cues from them, etc...

And weekends consisted of going to the movies, shopping downtown and not at a mall, going to radio station promotion functions, and going to car dealerships to test drive a car (without someone else in it with you). There was a lot more trust then and while crime was around, it was either organized or in seedy parts of town. A child of 6-years old could walk the streets alone with no fear of abduction.

Even the car culture has disappeared such as drive-in eateries where carhops came to you with window trays. The Drive-In theater. Local car races which includes drag, stock, dirt, and demolition, and full service gas stations.

Dave, you said people aren't as superficial as they were. Don't forget the competition to be cool having the latest ear piece technology or portable computer type device in hand. Or tying to outdo one another in "casual" wear. It has been a long time since I have seen men wear real leather shoes you can polish at the shoeshine stands. We still have a shoeshine person in our building! The problem is that the focus on things have changed to computerized and that pours over to drivers texting and cell phone talking and now being banned due to too many accidents and road rage. It is an "all about me" society now.

When I speak of new model celebrations at the dealerships it includes a full blown party with food, entertainment, searchlights, and sometimes fireworks. I would like to see some of those pictures or ads :)

Sorry for the rants but the change in society and from image to technology has caused an indifferent world and everything artistic is feeling the effects. That includes celebrated year to year car design changes.

Edited by X-Frame (see edit history)
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Thanks for all the good posts above about how it used to be. I remember the early 50s through the mid 60s especially how exciting it was to see the new models in the previous fall showing. Some years in the 50s there was virtually little or no change from one year to the next. I think this kept the prices from increasing and people weren't real keen on changes back then. We still looked forward to it anyway. A couple of the nearby towns would coordinate their annual town celebration/parade etc. with the unveiling of the new car showing. After the parade and hamburger feed we'd visit the dealers to see the new cars. I also remember my folks would "order" a car from the factory built with their choice of options, motor, fabrics and colors. I think it took about 6 weeks or so I don't think many people do this anymore, do they? I think the last car they ordered was a 1960 Pontiac Safari 9 passenger station wagon. After that we had more dealers where we could shop around for the car we wanted.

Below is a post card I found in my Dad's things shortly after his passing last March, from the local dealer encouraging Dad to come in and trade cars. The card came a little late as Dad had just traded with another dealer for a 65 Pontiac Bonneville his our first car to have A/C.

Thanks for this interesting thread.:)

Rod

1329074066.jpg

1329074063.jpg

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Rod, that's a nice post card. It's interesting to see an Olds dealer also selling Ramblers.

Back then there were quite a lot of neighborhood dealers, selling to mostly neighborhood people. We had a Oldsmobile dealer living in our neighborhood across from my parents. They had such pretty Oldsmobiles parked in their driveways every night. I walk past that house on my walk after work now and visualizing the cars that used to be there. Now you can't tell one from the other. So boring. It's too bad we took things for granted, not knowing how much things would change. At least we have the memories........

Edited by Skyking
spelling (see edit history)
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Thanks, Bob. Yes, I was surprised to see Ramblers were also sold there too.

This dealership blew up about 10 years after this card was sent. :confused: There was a gas station across the street that was evidently losing gasoline from an underground tank, ending up emitting fumes into the basement of this dealership. Every morning for several weeks the manager would go to the basement, upon his arrival and start an exhaust fan to blow those fumes out of the basement. One morning a spark from the fan's switch exploded the fumes, killing him and ending the dealership's, and a few months later, gas station's businesses. As we now look back, it was a bonehead thing to do. If you smell gas, don't touch any switches or anything metal on your way out of the building. This was difficult to convince my school administrators to stop telling teachers to shut the lights out in the classrooms during a fire drill. Ihad to tell them this story several times before a change in policy was made.:confused:

I guess we still don't readily accept changes.:)

Rod

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Below is a post card I found in my Dad's things shortly after his passing last March, from the local dealer encouraging Dad to come in and trade cars. The card came a little late as Dad had just traded with another dealer for a 65 Pontiac Bonneville his our first car to have A/C.

Thanks for this interesting thread.:)

Rod

The 1966 Olds 98 was one of many cars I also owned along the way. This was in New Orleans until I found out owning a car while living in the French Quarter wasn't practical. Good thing because someone stole it one night and I found it gutted by fire the next day. Was the same color too but mine didn't have a vinyl roof.

What a story about the explosion!

Eric

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WOW!! How sad!! :mad:

I bought a new '70 98 Olds 2 door. Drove it 1100 miles in one day to get to Minn. ahead of a snowstorm and wasn't even tired. Of course I was a little younger then.:).

Rod

You know what is so weird is that I haven't owned a 1960s car for quite a few years and one day visiting a friend, he too had a 1966 98 and while sitting in the front seat I realized just how small the interior space was on this car compared to a car I was driving at the time. Of course I stand 6'4" tall and need leg and head room but have owned both Cadillacs and Imperials and didn't have that same feeling. The '66 I owned was my first land yacht though I have owned older and bigger cars since.

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You know what is so weird is that I haven't owned a 1960s car for quite a few years and one day visiting a friend, he too had a 1966 98 and while sitting in the front seat I realized just how small the interior space was on this car compared to a car I was driving at the time. Of course I stand 6'4" tall and need leg and head room but have owned both Cadillacs and Imperials and didn't have that same feeling. The '66 I owned was my first land yacht though I have owned older and bigger cars since.

For sure!! A couple feet taken off the wheelbase of those "battleships or Sherman tanks", as they have been called, has made a big difference in "that ride" too. :mad:

Rod

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I ordered my 2007 Edge from the factory. The Ford dealer in MD didn't have one the color I liked with the options I wanted. I ordered it on Jan. 16, 2007 and got it Feb. 28, 2007. So, at the end of this month it will be 5 years old. I've put 91,000 miles on it so far.

I live about 15 minutes from the BMW plant in Greer, S.C. You can order your new X3, X5, or X6 (and next year, the all new X4) through the dealer and pick it up at the factory. If you do this, BMW has a neat thing where they will meet you, show you everything about the car, and then have a BMW owned version of the same model you bought to try out on their test track. Takes about 3 hours for everything. I don't believe there is any extra charge for this. If anyone is ever in the area, there are tours through the plant every weekday. Costs $7.00, takes about 1.5 hours. An excellent tour.

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