Indianapolis Auto Show 3-18-1907,
Copyright © 1907 Indianapolis Star

The First Indianapolis Auto Shows were open air affairs.  There was no building in the city large enough for an enclosed show, therefore, the dealers arranged for openings on a large scale in the downtown business district.

The first show began on March 18, 1907, and lasted one week.  Special rates were granted on rail and interurban lines to draw thousands of visitors to downtown Indianapolis.

Auto manufacturers shipped their most attractive models to local dealerships for perusal.  Prospective purchasers had a chance to see new models made in Indiana or elsewhere.  Indianapolis-built cars were proudly demonstrated to all comers.

Several hundred cars took part in the opening day parades over downtown streets.  Dealers elaborately decorated their showrooms and garages.  They attempted to make their show as attractive as other auto shows across the country.

This show was the inauguration of the automobile season in Indiana.  The Indianapolis Star reported that there were almost 1,000 cars in Indianapolis, and probably 1,000 more were owned in other cities around the state.

The enthusiasm demonstrated with this inaugural show in 1907 showed the viability of auto shows in Indianapolis.  Opening day of the 1908 show was declared “the greatest day the automobile ever had in Indiana.”  The special feature of the second-day program of the 1908 show was the hill-climbing contest on Michigan Hill, northwest of the city.  A silver trophy was awarded by the Fisher Automobile Company to the touring car making the best time.  The Overland Auto Company offered a cup to the roadster or runabout making the best time.

Indianapolis Auto Show 3-27-1910

Indianapolis Auto Show 3-27-1910
Copyright © 1910 Indianapolis Star

By 1910, there were over 30 dealers and garages spread around downtown Indianapolis.  Can you imagine the chaos in the evening trying to get around to all of the different places to see prospective cars on your list?

 1910 Indianapolis Automobile Dealers

Name Location
American Motor Car Sales Co. Oliver Ave. and Drover
Buick Motor Co. 130-132 E. New York
Claypool Garage 27 N. Capitol Ave.
Conduitt Automobile Co. 332-334 N. Delaware
Cost-James Motor Truck Co. 224-226 S. Pennsylvania
Crescent Auto Co. 25 E. Ohio
Decatur Motor Car Co. 318 E. Market
Finch & Freeman Auto Co. 322 N. Delaware
Fisher Automobile Co. 400-424 N. Capitol Ave.
Gibson Automobile Co. 238 Mass Ave. & 235 N. Pennsylvania
Hearsey-Willis Co. 113-117 W. Market
Henderson Motor Sales Co. 742 E. Washington
Indiana Automobile Co. 321 Mass Ave.
Indiana Motor Sales Co. 505 Odd Fellows Bldg.
Indianapolis Automobile Co. 113 W. Maryland
Knickerbocker Auto Co. 330-332 E. Market
“McFarlan-Six” Sales Co. 816 State Life Bldg.
Maxwell-Briscoe Indianapolis 363 N. Illinois
Motor Car Sales Co. 215 N. Delaware
National Motor Vehicle Co. 22nd & Monon R.R.
Nordyke & Marmon Co. S.W. Corner Meridian & New York
Overland Automobile Co. Oliver Ave. and Drover
Peck Motor Car Co. 324 N. Pennsylvania
Rambler Auto Co. 224 S. Pennsylvania
Reliable Auto Exchange 820 E. Washington
Satterthwaite, Harry C. 636 E. Washington
Sears Bros Co. 750-752 Mass Ave.
Shoemaker-Smith Auto Co. 249 N. Pennsylvania
State Automobile Co. 328 N. Delaware
Sterling Motor Car Co. 142 W. Market
Studebaker Bros. Co. of Indianapolis 307-315 N. Pennsylvania
The Waverley Co. 139 S. East
Willis-Holcomb 330 N. Illinois

Soon, over 60 dealers and garages throughout the business district hosted thousands of visitors at these shows.  Open-air Indianapolis Auto Shows continued until the first tent show around University Park in March 1912.  Later, enclosed shows moved to buildings at the Indiana State Fairgrounds that were large enough for indoor expositions.