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1933 Automobile Show: Classic Cars on Display in a Buyers Market

Due to the Great Depression, the 1932 to ’33 period was the most difficult time ever encountered by the domestic automotive industry. Compared with the “Roaring Twenties” seller’s market at a time of record production and sales rates, new car sales in early-1930s fell to a mere trickle of those seen in earlier times.

Automobile shows held in larger cities in the country continued on during the tough times, although with less fanfare and smaller displays. This press photo dated 1-18-1933 shown below in enlargeable sections was taken at an Auto Show at an unknown location.

The stage display was split up with Hudson on the left and Studebaker on the right. Ford and Willys are on the left side of the floor with Packard, Lincoln, Marmon, and Buick models on display on the right. Under the seating area on the far-right are Franklin, Hupmobile, and cars from another automaker up near the stage. The Buick booth appears to be the most interesting with seven cars and two factory show chassis’ on display.

Share with us what you find of interest in this image, and tell us all about the automobiles offered for sale at this show. The photograph is courtesy of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

21 responses to “1933 Automobile Show: Classic Cars on Display in a Buyers Market

  1. I’m almost certain the location is the Milwaukee Auditorium. That was the auto show venue until 1956, when it move a block east to the newly constructed Milwaukee Arena. My friends and I were regulars at the auto shows from about 1952 until the early sixties when we all went our separate ways. In the 50’s there were also exhibits in the basement. I Googled ‘interior Milwaukee Auditorium’ and found a number of old images that confirm my suspicions. The building is still there on 6th and Kilborn, being used these days as a theater.

  2. I disagree about the five Buick models. The black sedan with fender wells is a Buick. The car next to the wicker chair is a Nash. The convertible is probably a Buick, These models are mostly Nash, I suggest.

  3. I want to walk down that right aisle and buy the 1933 Marmon sixteen Victoria coupe . I would like to see it in color !

  4. Automotive design advanced rapidly during the prosperous 1920s but not so much during the Depression. Buick was right up there for 1936–juice brakes, independent front suspension, all-metal body, and that yummy 320ci straight-eight– but less-successful makes with fewer financial reserves were brutally culled (Marmon, Hupmobile, Duesenberg, Franklin, Cord, Auburn, Stutz, etc.) by the economy. There’s probably a book in there somewhere…

  5. I think this is a tremendous display of new cars for a show in the depths of the depression. Based on the comment from Robert Kramer regarding the location, it would be fun to find out how an auto show in Wisconsin ended up with photo’s in a Philadelphia library.

    Thanks for showing a great set of photo’s regardless.

  6. 1933, 1934 and 1935 are my favourite years for American cars ! I just love the styling that came between the shoe box shapes and the potatoes on wheels that appeared in 1936 for the rest of the Thirties.

  7. Of the the fewer than 400 Marmon Sixteens built and the 76 cars known to survive, only 8 Convertible Coupes have been counted. As to color, it is most likely that the car in this photo was a maroon monotone, since 2-tone maroon with silver was a most popular choice. The car was as fast as, or faster than, a Duesenberg. At about one-third of the price. Then, if not now.

  8. 1933 was a great year for styling. Some of the best classics were produced in these years. I was born in 1930 and owned a 1932 Plymouth convertible cabriolet with dual side mounts in my teens. Wish I still had it!!!
    Lee Noga

    • Lee; in 1952 when I was Discharged from the Army, I bought a 1934 Plymouth Deluxe Coupe. I didn’t know the gem that I had until I had traded it. Mine had a coil spring front suppension. Years later I found out just how rare they were. Jim Ross

  9. What a cruel twist of fate that three of the best years of early automobile design (32-33-34) were also the years of slowest and fewest sales, and consequently the rarest of surviving examples.

  10. The 1930’s had the best looking autos. I was wondering if you would ever have time to post pictures of instrument clusters for auto-nuts to identify. I have several that I would like to see them get into the hands of owners that could use them before they disappear. But don’t know what they fit, thus cannot advertise them etc?? Do you know of any website that would do this that has a good readership?
    Lee Noga

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