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The 1950s

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The 1957 Detroit Auto Show

1957 Detroit Auto Show Gallery Like a real auto show, the cars—on the floor and suspended in the air—catch your eye as you enter this gallery. The museum based its "1957 Auto Show" exhibit on photographs of real auto shows of the 1950s. A Chevrolet Corvette and a Plymouth Fury symbolize "Selling with Style" in an era when stylists had seemingly unlimited control over the amount of chrome and the size of fins.

1957 Corvette in Exhibit Harley Earl developed the Corvette for General Motors' 1953 Motor Rama and guided its evolution to this classic 1957 model. Earl joined GM 1927 and developed the first design studio in the automotive industry. He put fins on the Cadillac in 1949 and developed Motor Rama Auto Shows to display concept cars. "Show and Sell," a video program in the gallery, features a musical production from the 1956 Motor Rama.

1957 Plymouth Fury in Exhibit Virgil Exner, a protégé of Harley Earl, was chief designer for Chrysler from 1949 to 1963. Exner gave the Plymouth with its "forward look" with huge tail-fin styling. As a result, Plymouth rose from 8th in sales in 1956 to the third-best selling car in 1957.

Visitors can learn more about automotive design by designing their own concept cars on two touch-screen computers in the gallery. This is a "must do" for kids of all ages. As visitors leave the gallery, they can flip the levers and pull the handle of a fifties' voting machine to "Vote for the Car of Your Choice" (image) just like people did in the real auto shows.

Michigan in Space Exhibit The 1957 Auto Show gallery ends with the facade of a Redstone rocket (made in Michigan). From the P-38 aircraft that influenced Harley Earl's first Cadillac tail-fins, to the first Michigan-produced rockets of the space program, aviation influenced car design in the 1950s. Engineers from Chrysler helped produce the first rockets.


(See more historic vehicles on A Michigan Auto Tour!)


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