The General Motors Motorama was an auto show staged by GM from 1949 to 1961. These automobile extravaganzas were designed to whet public appetite and boost automobile sales with displays of fancy prototypes, concept vehicles and other special or halo models. Motorama grew out of Alfred P. Sloan's yearly industrial luncheons at New York City's Waldorf Astoria, beginning in 1931. They were almost invariably held in conjunction with the New York Auto Show, that for many years was held traditionally in the first week of January.
After World War II, the first show, Transportation Unlimited Autorama, was staged again at the Waldorf Astoria, in January 1949. Between the New York City venue and the Boston extension, nearly 600,000 people saw the show. Seven "special" Cadillacs were exhibited including, inter alia, a Series 61 coupe and a Series 62 sedan that were standard except for a special paint finish; also shown were The Caribbean, the Embassy, and the Fleetwood Coupe de Ville, all built on the Series Sixty Special chassis.
During the 1950 show, more than 320,000 visitors admired the Cadillac Debutante, a special convertible trimmed in leopard skins. There was no Autorama or Motorama in 1952. Cadillac celebrated its Golden Anniversary (50 years of production) in 1952, and two show cars were on display at various venues around the country: the Cadillac Townsman, a custom Series Sixty Special sedan, and the Cadillac Eldorado special convertible that went into limited production in 1953.
The show officially became known as Motorama when it began to travel around the country in 1953. That year more than 1.4 million visitors saw it; Motorama's opening day in New York drew 45,000 visitors. There was a revue, with orchestra, singers, and dancers. Exhibited at this venue were the Buick Wildcat, Pontiac La Parisienne, Oldsmobile Starfire, Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac Orleans and Le Mans. More than 1.9 million visitors attended the show in 1954; it started on January 26 in the Waldorf Astoria, New York. On display were the experimental Oldsmobile F-88 and Cutlass, Buick Wildcat II, Chevrolet Nomad station wagon, General Motors Firebird XP-21 and Pontiac Bonneville Special, Cadillac El Camino, Cadillac La Espada and Cadillac Park Avenue, all featuring fiberglass bodies.
The 1955 show dates were New York (January 20–25), Miami (February 5–13), Los Angeles (March 5–13), San Francisco (March 26 to April 3), Boston (April 23 to May 1). Exhibited at these venues were the Buick Wildcat III, Chevrolet Biscayne, Pontiac Strato Star, Oldsmobile 88 Delta, LaSalle II roadster and sedan, and Cadillac Eldorado Brougham. Oldsmobile and Buick pillarless four-door hardtops were first shown at this show.
In 1956 over 2.2 million visitors attended. The dates were New York City (January 19–24), Miami (February 4–12), Los Angeles (March 3–11), San Francisco (March 24 to April 1), Boston (April 19–29). Featured cars included Buick Centurion, General Motors Firebird II, the Oldsmobile Golden Rocket, Pontiac Club de Mer, Cadillac Eldorado Brougham and Eldorado Brougham Town Car. Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will recognize the 1956 show as the Motorama featured in the short film Design for Dreaming .
No shows were held for the next two years. In 1957, however, Cadillac did display a couple of show cars at various venues. These were the Cadillac Director and the Eldorado Brougham town car of the previous year. Also, in 1958, a special Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible toured various automobile shows; it was equipped with a rain sensor designed to automatically raise the top and all window glass, in case of a rain shower.
The "1959" Motorama was held from October 16–22, 1958, at the Waldorf Astoria, New York City, before moving on to Boston. Shown in these two east coast cities were General Motors Firebird III and the Cadillac Cyclone.
The final Motorama show was held in 1961 in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. More than one million visitors attended.
More than 100 trucks were needed to transport Motorama shows around the country, each arriving at a precise time and in a given order. Cars and simultaneous revues were displayed on lifting, revolving platforms known as "grass-hoppers".
A total of 10.5 million visitors saw Motorama shows between 1949 and 1961.
A Touch of Magic was the official film for the 1961 Motorama.
Oldsmobile was a brand of American automobiles produced for most of its existence by General Motors. Olds Motor Vehicle Co. was founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897. It produced over 35 million vehicles, including at least 14 million built at its Lansing, Michigan factory alone. During its time as a division of General Motors, it slotted into the middle of GM's five divisions, and was noted for its testing of groundbreaking technology and designs, most notably the "Rocket V8" engine. In 1985, over 1 million Oldsmobiles were sold, but by the 1990s the division was tasked with competing with import brands. When it was shut down in 2004, Oldsmobile was the oldest surviving American automobile marque, and one of the oldest in the world, after Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Skoda, and Tatra.
Pontiac was a car brand owned, made, and sold by General Motors. Introduced as a companion make for GM's more expensive line of Oakland automobiles, Pontiac overtook Oakland in popularity and supplanted its parent brand entirely by 1933.
Personal luxury car is a North American car classification describing somewhat sporty, sophisticated coupes that emphasized comfort over performance. The North American manufacturers most often combined engineering, design, and marketing to develop upscale, distinctive "platform sharing" models that became highly profitable.
The Buick Skylark is a passenger car produced by Buick. The model was made in six production runs, during 46 years, over which the car's design varied dramatically due to changing technology, tastes and new standards implemented over the years.
The Cadillac Eldorado is a luxury car manufactured and marketed by Cadillac from 1952 to 2002 over twelve generations.
The Seville was manufactured by Cadillac between 1975 and 2004 as a smaller-sized, premium model. It was replaced by the STS in 2004.
LaSalle was an American brand of luxury automobiles manufactured and marketed, as a separate brand, by General Motors' Cadillac division from 1927 through 1940. Alfred P. Sloan, GM's Chairman of the Board, developed the concept for four new GM marques brands - LaSalle, Marquette, Viking and Pontiac - paired with already established brands to fill price gaps he perceived in the General Motors product portfolio. Sloan created LaSalle as a companion marque for Cadillac. LaSalle automobiles were manufactured by Cadillac, but were priced lower than Cadillac-branded automobiles, were smaller, and were marketed as the second-most prestigious marque in the General Motors portfolio. LaSalles were titled as LaSalles, and not as Cadillacs.
Badge engineering, sometimes called rebadging, is the practice of applying a different badge or trademark to an existing product and subsequently marketing the variant as a distinct product. Due to the high cost of designing and engineering a new model or establishing a brand, economies of scale make it less expensive to rebadge a product once or multiple times than to create different models.
The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme is a mid-size car produced by Oldsmobile between 1966 and 1997. It was positioned as a premium offering at the top of the Cutlass range. It began as a trim package, developed its own roofline, and rose during the mid-1970s to become not only the most popular Oldsmobile but the highest selling model in its class.
The GM B platform was General Motors' full-size rear-wheel drive automobile platform from 1926-1996. It was closely related to the original rear-wheel drive GM C and GM D platforms, and was used for convertibles, hardtops, coupés, sedans, and station wagons.
The Buick Roadmaster is an automobile that was built by Buick from 1936 to 1958, and again from 1991 to 1996. Roadmasters produced between 1936 and 1958 were built on Buick's longest non-limousine wheelbase and shared their basic structure with entry-level Cadillac and, after 1940, senior Oldsmobiles. Between 1946 and 1957 the Roadmaster served as Buick's flagship.
The Cadillac Brougham was a line of luxury cars manufactured by the Cadillac Motor Car Division of General Motors from the 1987 through 1992 model years and was previously sold from 1977 to 1986 as the Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. The optional "d'Elegance" trim package that was introduced during the Fleetwood era remained available. The model received a facelift in 1990 and was replaced by an all-new Cadillac Fleetwood in 1993.
The Pontiac Parisienne is a full-size rear-wheel drive vehicle that was sold by Pontiac on the GM B platform in Canada from 1958 to 1986 and in the United States from 1983 to 1986. Right-hand drive models were locally assembled in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa until 1969. For most of its run, the Canadian Parisienne was nearly mechanically identical to the American Chevrolet Impala. The Parisienne wagon continued under the Safari nameplate until 1989. Parisienne or La Parisienne means a grammatically female person or thing from Paris, France.
Linden Assembly was a General Motors automobile factory in Linden, New Jersey. The plant operated from 1937 to 2005 and made cars, trucks and SUVs for various GM automotive divisions.
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Opera windows are small, discrete, and fixed side windows in the C-pillar of some cars. Originally porthole-sized and shaped to provide light and rear passenger visibility in luxury 4-door sedans and limousines in the 1930s, they made a brief appearance in two-door coupes in the 1950s before becoming a sweeping design fad in the 1970s.
A brougham was originally a car body style where the driver sat outside and passengers seated within an enclosed cabin, as per the earlier brougham horse-drawn carriage. Similar in style to the later town car, the brougham style was used on chauffeur-driven petrol and electric cars.
This is a list of automobiles produced for the general public in the North American market. They are listed in chronological order from when each model began its model year. If a model did not have continuous production, it is listed again on the model year production resumed. Concept cars and submodels are not listed unless they are themselves notable.
General Motors in 1988 held the largest exhibition to that date of its vehicle design and technology, called Teamwork & Technology: For Today and Tomorrow, at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel, site of the first Motorama exhibition in 1949.