The General Motors Motorama was the perfect event for a post-war America, ready to step into a future beckoning with optimism and promise. An outgrowth of GM chairman Alfred P. Sloan’s yearly industrial luncheons at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, the Motoramas dazzled the public with displays of experimental prototypes, concept vehicles and flagship models.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is Art Deco landmark building, located in Manhattan and dating back to 1931. It was the first hotel to offer room service and set standards for luxury around the world. Running from 1949 to 1961, the General Motors Motorama shows were usually held in conjunction with the New York Auto Show.
At the upcoming Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic Auction in Indianapolis, the company is proud to present four General Motors classic automobiles, whose debut at the 1953 Motorama made automotive history. Today these cars are among America’s most revered vintage automobiles: the Buick Skylark Convertible, Oldsmobile Fiesta Convertible, Cadillac Eldorado Convertible and the Corvette Roadster. All will be available for auction at the event.
1953 Buick Skylark Convertible
General Motors’ Motorama tour provided a dazzling display of technological innovation that highlighted a multitude of stunning automotive concepts. Buick’s Skylark displayed many trendsetting features, including a new OHV 322cui V8 engine, 12-volt electrical system, fully radiused rear wheel openings and Kelsey-Hayes 40-spoke wire wheels. Stylish “Sweepspear” chrome body accents would find their way into future Buick models. By lowering the top and seat height, designers gave the Skylark a low, sporty look at an overall height of just five feet.
1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta Convertible
Unlike most other contemporary production automobiles, the 1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta debuted as a show car, dazzling crowds first at the Waldorf Astoria and then across the country in General Motors’ now-legendary Motorama shows. One of four “dream cars” built by GM for the annual extravaganza, the Fiesta impressed all with its grandeur and its astronomical price tag of $5,700. Production was limited to one year only and totaled just 458 units, fewer than ten percent of which are believed to exist today.
1953 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible
Cadillac’s contribution, the glorious Eldorado, would become the flagship of the marque. Dubbed “The Gilded One,” the Eldorado was priced at an astronomical $7,750. At the time, an average family sedan was priced below $2,000. It would be the most expensive post-war Cadillac produced to that time. Only 532 were built, with the combination of styling, price and low production, the Eldorado guaranteed its owner’s status wherever it went.
It is said that Cadillac lost money on every 1953 Eldorado produced, but the GM division regained its spot among the most exclusive cars in the world. The publicity and prestige which the car garnered was priceless, a fact confirmed when the Eldorado was chosen for the 1953 inauguration parade of President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
The first-year Corvettes will always remain the most sought after of GM’s stunning designs for the 1953 model year. After the first weekend of its debut at the GM Motorama, over 300,000 people had seen the car and spent $800,000 on GM products. By the time the Motorama tour ended, over 4 million people had reportedly seen this fantastic automobile.
The body itself was a revelation, constructed from a revolutionary material called fiberglass. Powered by Chevy’s proven “Blue Flame” engine and fitted with three side-draft Carter carburetors, 8:1 compression, a split exhaust manifold and dual exhaust pipes, the inline six engine pushed 150 horsepower through GM’s Powerglide 2-speed automatic transmission. Production of the Corvette began in mid-1953, using a temporary facility in Flint, MI. Only 300 cars were built, including the pre-production Motorama show cars, making them by far the rarest of all Corvette models.
Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic Auction enters its 24th Year, this May 17-22, 2011 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Promoted as the World’s Largest Collector Car Auction, the six-day event draws collectors and sellers from throughout the Mid-West and across the country. For additional information, please see the event web site.