Indianapolis Auto Show Celebrates 100th Anniversary

This year’s 100th annual Indianapolis Auto Show, going on through tomorrow at the Indiana Convention Center, has provided attendees a chance to get “up close and personal” with 2014 models from 39 automakers from around the globe.

Although the event is being held in 2013, it’s being called the 2014 Indianapolis Auto Show. The auto show’s general manager Marty Murphy says the tradition is to name the show according to the model year vehicles on display.

Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association president Bruce Heath says, “This year’s 100th show has so much to offer. The manufacturers are optimistic and the consumer gets to see why they are so excited.”

For Indianapolis-based automotive historian and author Dennis Horvath, however, the real thrill comes not from seeing what’s new, but from taking a nostalgic look back over the past 100 years of the show.

The 1913 show no doubt generated as much, if not more optimism and wonder than the current show. Innovations on display at the inaugural show included the electric starter, which was introduced the previous year by Delco.

Prior to the invention of the electric starter, gas-powered automobiles were equipped with dangerous and often unreliable hand crank starters which were prone to kick back, delivering painful and sometimes bone-breaking blows to the forearms of hapless motorists.

Ironically, the introduction of the electric starter settled the debate over whether automobiles would be fueled by electricity or fossil fuels for nearly the next 100 years.

Other innovations and amenities featured in a 1913 advertisement for a Henderson automobile include left-hand drive, demountable rims, electric lighting and a silk mohair top.  Horvath says the Henderson listed for $1,585.

Horvath says there were 200 vehicles from 36 automakers on display at the 1913 show.   All of the exhibitors were from the U.S. and a number, including the Haynes Automobile Company, the McFarlan Motor Corporation and the Studebaker Automobile Company, were all based in the Hoosier state.  The show also featured models from Indianapolis-based automakers including the Marmon Motor Car Company, the National Motor Vehicle Company, the Stutz Motor Company (maker of the iconic Stutz Bearcat) and Waverly Electric.  Ford, General Motors and Chrysler were also represented.

The 2014 Indianapolis Auto Show also features some locally manufactured and assembled models from General Motors, Toyota, Honda and Subaru.  The Toyota Highlander, Sequoia and Sienna are all assembled at the company’s Princeton facilities. Honda builds its Acura ILX and Civic models at its Greenburg plant, and the Subaru Legacy and Outback, and Toyota Camry are all built in Lafayette, Indiana.

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