General Motors’ Motorama was a trade show which toured numerous major cities in the U.S. between 1953 and 1961. It grew out of a 1949 event staged at the Waldorf-Astoria that was billed as “Transportation Unlimited.” From the very beginning, these shows had an obsessive quality about them. When it was discovered, for instance, that the Waldorf’s freight elevator wouldn’t hold a full-size automobile, crews were called in to disassemble and reassemble cars for display on the second floor. By the time these exhibitions had evolved into the touring Motorama shows, it was as if the presenters were attempting to transport the whole of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland from city to city and staffing it with Broadway-style casts and circus performers. This is one of America’s great, unique, contributions to the mass psyche of the arts. Elements of stagecraft, lighting, choreography, storytelling and multimedia effects collided into a curious spectacle the likes of which have yet to be matched. This book is a visual feast. The cars which starred in these pageants frequently resembled spaceships on wheels. The giddy enthusiasm of the performers is set into utterly moderne pavilions. Every detail from the cantilevered platforms to the bursting-atom light fixtures conveys an optimism about “things to come” that verges on hysteria. Besides the auto enthusiasts who will immediately respond to the dream cars featured here, there is a larger audience of sociologists, set and stage designers, and futurists who will find a lot between the covers of this book.
Publisher: Classic Motorbooks
Paperback: 136 pages