E3 Spark Plugs Recommends Chicago Auto Show – the Nation’s Oldest

A scene from the 1903 Chicago Auto Show. The event debuted in 1901 and is the nation's oldest auto show.

Heads up, Chicago-area fans. E3 Spark Plugs has its eye on the 2012 Chicago Auto Show running February 10-19. Did you know it’s the nation’s oldest?

The inaugural Chicago Auto Show revved up in 1901. General admission to the show was just 50 cents and patrons watched then new “horseless carriages” take spins on a wooden track that surrounded the Coliseum exposition hall’s main floor. The attraction’s main goal apparently was to help dispel public apprehensions and convince locals that motor vehicles were safe and easy to handle. At the helm was Sam Miles, editor of Motor Age magazine and the man who would become known as the father of the modern auto show.

The show ran once annually except during the 1930s and 1940s. Throughout the ’30s, it was held twice a year with shows staged during the spring and fall – an indirect request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who sought to boost demand for cars and, thus, jobs in auto plants. In a dramatic reversal, the show stopped production altogether from 1941-49 as plants redirected their efforts to meeting the country’s need for war vehicles and artillery rather than the consumer’s wants. Its 1950 return was a no-holds-barred celebration complete with beauty queens, Rockette-style dancers, a full orchestra, farm animals, 3-D exhibits depicting game hunting adventures in Africa and a massive box of dirt flown in from France so patrons could walk across it and “truthfully say they had stepped foot on foreign soil.”

Today’s Chicago Auto Show promises to be a little less weird, but every bit as entertaining. Blues Traveler opens the event with a concert and charity benefit tonight. Guests walk the red carpet and rub elbows with renowned artist Thomas Arvid. Members of the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Blackhawks make appearances throughout the week, as do NHRA drivers TJ Zizzo and Dale Creasy, Jr. Wednesday’s show takes a feminine turn with exhibits geared toward the fairer sex. Yoga sessions, manicures and a fashion show are on the schedule. And you’ll get chances to win cash prizes, an iPad2 or a 2012 Toyota Camry, among other items.

So do you plan to hit the Chicago Auto Show? Be sure to take pics of the coolest new cars and post them on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook fan page. And stock your ride with E3 car spark plugs for show-worthy performance.


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