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Chicago's is world's first auto show to reach 100 editions

November 16, 2010
"If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a hundred times!" How many times does a parent mutter that to a growing child? Likely more than 100.

But Chicago next month adds another distinction using that nice round number: the Chicago Auto Show is about to debut its 100th edition, making it the world’s first auto show to hold 100 shows.

Since the first official Chicago Auto Show was staged in 1901, most people in the year 2008 would reasonably deduce: "Wow, 107 Chicago Auto Shows. What an accomplishment!"

But the vagaries of geopolitical strife—tempered with a healthy dose of history—get in the way of simple math. In the years during and immediately after World War II, there simply were no auto shows being staged in the United States. The country was far too busy producing tanks and trucks to worry about family transportation.

So the American auto show clock was placed in suspended animation until 1950, when the Windy City put the genre back on track for the world to witness. It hasn’t stopped since in timing, content and importance to the industry and public.

"We understand that there might be a bit of confusion," said 2008 Chicago Auto Show Chairman Bob Loquercio. "But simply put: there’s no other auto show on earth that has produced 100 editions. We’re darn proud of that, not only for its longevity and staying power with a car-hungry public, but also for the industry that has for decades used this show as a barometer of how well their products resonate in real-world application."

The CATA has owned and produced the Chicago Auto Show since 1935. In celebration of the storied past of the Chicago Auto Show, the CATA commissioned a special display featuring many vehicles from the exposition’s earliest years.

"We’ve done a great deal of research on our early years," said Mark Scarpelli, co-chairman of the ‘08 show. "That, teamed up with some very cooperative manufacturers and private collections, should provide a wonderful look back at some of our industry’s milestone vehicles.

"Our Web site’s historic section always gets huge play, but this year we expect it to be off-the-chart busy."

The nation’s biggest auto show will stage its customary two-day media preview Feb. 6-7, and the black-tie benevolent event, First Look for Charity is Feb. 7. The show’s 10 public days are Feb. 8-17.