November 2007: the Los Angeles Convention Center hosted a coming-out party for hundreds of the world’s new automobiles.
The annual event was first held January 21-27, 1907, at Morley’s Skating Rink on Grand Avenue. Billed more as a social event, the show featured 99 vehicles by 46 manufacturers. Enthusiasm was so high, the show was extended by an extra day, and Los Angeles was baptized as one of the premier automotive cities in the world.
The show changed venues and concepts often in the early years. It continued as a social function, but ironically, nature also emerged as a recurring theme. The auto show grew as steadily as the city itself. L.A.’s first traffic light was installed on Broadway in 1920, and traffic laws were first enacted in 1925.
L.A.’s car craziness was tested in 1929 when the show burnt to the ground. With help from the Automobile Club of Southern California (founded in 1900), a second, improved show opened 24 hours later in the Shrine Auditorium.
Two L.A. Auto Shows were held in 1935 at the urging of President Roosevelt, who determined that autumn shows would stimulate the pre-Christmas economy. Consumer Automobile production and shows were suspended through World War II.
The show had a long run at the Pan Pacific Auditorium through the 50’s and 60’s. Displays became more elaborate, including cut-away vehicles and experimental prototype cars, which continue to be popular at today’s shows.
The 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show continued the tradition of fantastic vehicles and multi-media displays. An estimated one million attendees were treated to at least 12 world premieres, 24 North American debuts, and 11 concept vehicles.
The show returned to a nature theme, featuring hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles from several major manufacturers, including the Honda FCX, which may be the world’s first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.