By Matt Wolfe
Presenting part 2 of our two part series “Driving Progress; a history of the Detriot Auto Show and how it grew from a side attraction at a trade show to take the industrys center stage as the most prominent auto show in the world.
Model introductions became much more extravagant in 1980 with AMC’s introduction of the Eagle, which was delivered to the show by helicopter. Cars could still be purchased at the show from a dealer salesperson this year, and some customers even bought the actual display models.
1989 was the year the Detroit Auto Show became the “North American International Auto Show”. In order to accommodate the growth of the show, Cobo Hall was expanded. Bringing international interest was the introduction of the Lexus and Infiniti brands. Other notable reveals included the Dodge Viper and GM Syclone concepts.
The most notable experience from the 1992 show was Chrysler’s unprecedented PR stunt for Grand Cherokee’s introduction. For the reveal of Jeep’s newest model, Vice President of Chrysler Bob Lutz hopped in a newly assembled Grand Cherokee at the Jefferson Assembly plant and drove it to Cobo Hall where he guided it up a flight of stairs and through a pane of break-away glass into the lobby.
Over 750 cars and trucks were packed into the newly renovated Cobo Hall on two floors. Over 800,000 sq. ft. of floor space was utilized for the show. The most distinguished visitor this year was President Bill Clinton, who was in attendance to inspect the latest advancements in automotive safety.
For the 2008 show, Dodge rustled up a unique way to introduce their new Ram pickup. Instead of just driving the truck out onto a stage, Dodge used a platoon of Ram trucks to herd 120 longhorn cattle through the streets of Detroit with the help of 16 cowboys on horseback