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The Automotive Chronicles

Monthly newsletter published by McLellan's Automotive History. Dedicated to literature collectors, restorers, museums, publishers, manufacturers and investors who collect and preserve automotive literature
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January 2006 Issue
 
ARTICLE
 
Auto Shows
By Robert McLellan
 

It is that time of year again. The North American International Auto Show Detroit right after the New Year's holiday.

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I love auto shows, have attended several of the Detroit Auto Shows and most Houston Auto Shows since their inception. In the 1950s I read about them in "Road & Track", "Sports Cars Illustrated" and "Motor Trend". That was as close as I could get to the concept cars from Detroit and the special bodied Italian, English and German makes featured at the New York or Turin Auto Shows. Back then there was no local Ferrari, Maserati or Aston Martin dealer — Alfa Romeos, Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz were about as exotic as were available. The first auto show in Houston was in 1985!

Many collectors living near large cities which host auto shows have found them to be a major source of sales literature and, with skill and luck, press kits, too. The sales literature usually has not been the more impressive catalogs which are available at dealerships and press kits are the objective of most collectors.

Prior to WWII it is unknown to me as to whether auto shows had press previews. Possibly press material was forwarded directly to newspaper and magazine editors. By the 1950s previews for journalists were quite common. One of the earliest I have seen was for the 1949 Lincoln.

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With time press kits improved in size, content and presentation.

It was not until the 1980s that press kits became very collectible, with multiple photographs, color slides, extensive commentary and an effort to impress journalists to the point that the presentation would induce them to wear "rose-colored glasses" when writing about the cars.

New cars of the 1990s brought new life to the auto industry and the public, starved for exciting automobiles not seen since the early 1970s, looked to auto magazines for the latest information. Auto makers competed with one another for the attention of the press and auto shows were their forum. Elaborate press kits, along with memorabilia, were handed out to eager writers. Each year the companies devised increasingly more novel ways of catching their attention.

Then along came the Internet and CD-ROM diskettes. Here it is 2006 and a journalist has access to everything necessary for a good article straight from a company's media web site. And that makes for an easy-to-put-together article. At an auto show, if a journalist wants a press kit, he or she will most likely be handed a CD-ROM, possibly in an elaborate presentation folder. They may also be given some memorabilia or an invitation to a media party. Press kits with slides, color photographs and multiple pages of press release information, for the most part, are no longer available.

Another interesting trend at auto shows is lack of new on-site introductions. More and more new models are not being announced there, but rather at remote private showings throughout the year to which selected journalists are invited. By giving journalists special attention they get more media coverage than when manufacturers have to compete with other auto companies at a show. It also eliminates all the literature collectors / eBay dealers who make up a majority of the "journalists" at Detroit and Los Angeles. Instead, at auto shows they provide a good time for the journalists and make it easy to download the information into their computers. The press kit is obsolete.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF PRESS KITS
McLellan's Automotive History will continue to acquire new press kits / CD ROMs from journalists as they become available, but as interest in these less impressive ones diminishes, interest in the elaborate ones from the Golden Age will increase and, in turn, they will become increasingly more collectible and valuable. MAH invites you to take this opportunity to review our current inventory of press kits. The following selection of Detroit Auto Show press kits from 1997 to the present are being offered at HALF PRICE.

 
 
For complete listing of Detroit Auto Show press kits click here
 
 
 
 
The Automotive Chronicles, January 2006
 
 
 
 
 
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