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Studebaker Takes Center Stage at the Minneapolis 1956 Auto Show

Today’s featured image contains a view of the Minneapolis Auditorium after the set up for the 1956 Auto Show. Apparently, the regional Studebaker distributor and or the local dealers paid extra to display the Automaker’s offerings up front and center on the stage where more attention would be garnered for the vehicles. The “Big Three,” plus Packard and the cars built in South Bend, Indiana, were well represented at the show. Unless they were elsewhere in the building, no imports are visible.

The three expandable images (below) show all of the automobiles in greater detail. Please share with us what you find of interest in these photographs courtesy of the Hennepin County Library.


22 responses to “Studebaker Takes Center Stage at the Minneapolis 1956 Auto Show

  1. Of all the `56 models shown, I’d love to have the two-tone Ford Park Lane wagon partially hidden behind the overhead sign. It even has skirts & wire wheel covers!

  2. The Minneapolis Auditorium had this Main Floor exhibition space, a single story exhibition hall on the east end of the building as well as a Basement Level accessible by zig-zagging 20 ft.-wide ramps. There were quite a few imports at the show, a fact I remember not so much because I recall seeing them there, as in the fact that I have their brochures among each year’s collection of the US makes’ brochures…and I did pick up every car’s brochures!
    The highlight of the show was the matinee or evening stage show that may have lasted well over an hour…with the hall darkened and the likes of Louis Armstrong, Liberace, Xavier Cugat and Abbe Lane performing…the A-List nightclub performers. They were backed by an orchestra, as can be seen ahead of the thrust stage in the lead photo.
    The show was held early in the new year, which permitted models like the Thunderbird, often not introduced until near New Year’s, to be exhibited and also to enable snaring the best nightclub acts between their New Year’s gigs and the resumption of the nightclub circuit in the latter part of January.. Cadillac was a holdout from the show, first exhibiting in ’59.

  3. Oh look, the new Packards are in. I heard they were hard to come by ( a strike?), I wonder how they got 5 for the show. The bare chassis is no doubt showing off Packards Torsion-Level suspension.

    • The chassis ended up at Homer Fetterling personal collection in South Bend. His trucking company hauled parts in and cars out. I saw it in the early 70’s and it was sitting out back rusting away. As side note, he had 27 Duesenburgs lined up in a row inside.

  4. Several years ago I went to the Packard Proving Grounds in Utica, MI. A member of the Packard Club of Detroit was kind enough to let us in and show us around the grounds. I believe the first photo shows the display chassis we saw that day. It survived until at least 2007.

  5. In a sure sign that my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders today, I spent a good minute trying to figure out who “Meacuhy” was before realizing it was a Mercury sign with portions of the Rs disappearing in the background.

  6. This photo is prior to the mid-model year date when Mercury replaced their regular 4-door sedan roofline (as seen on the black sedan in the lead photo and which dates back to their 1952 models) with the Sport Sedan, distinguished by a 4-sided, irregularly-shaped rear door vent window and a far slimmer top…in an effort to match their 2-door hardtop and 4-door hardtop Phaeton’s slim rooflines. This preceded the very slim roofs of the ’57 Mopar cars though was not seen on GM cars until ’59.

    The exposed chassis at the Packard display would’ve been a great opportunity to examine their extended torsion bar suspension.

    • Auto shows typically were held in the winter after all the new cars were on the market, and the winter time was a slow sales period in many markets as well.

  7. The stripes painted on the wooden floor are for a basketball court. This was the home of the Minneapolis – soon to be Los Angeles – L
    akers basketball team.

  8. I have liked Studebakers since I was a kid and an uncle of mine drove them, but the styling of the full-sized sedans in ‘56 couldn’t hold a candle to the Packards. Curtis-Wright, which owned both companies, did the world a disservice when it shut down Packard and destroyed its studio models and drawings. The lines of Packard’s “Predictor” show car were seen in the next generation of Lincolns.

  9. That Packard display chassis has been restored, and is now on display at the Packard Proving Grounds in Utica, Michigan.

    Just a note – Curtiss-Wright never owned Studebaker-Packard Corporation (they were just one company, after Packard purchased Studebaker in 1954). C-W had a management contract with S-P, which went into effect on August 8, 1956, long after Packard production ended on June 25, 1956.

  10. I love the ’56 Mercurys. I still remember my Dad purchasing a new ’56 Mercury 4 door Pheaton off the showroom floor. It was Mercury’s first 4 door hardtop. I got my drivers license with that all white beauty.

  11. I can’t figure out the non factory tail lamps on the 1956 Ford 4 door sedan at the lower right in the first photo. And is that a trailer hooked up to it ?

  12. I like the 88 sedan with black wall tires sitting next to the Merc convertible. They almost look like they belong on the same display. You would think there would be a little more room between the two Companies. The Studebakers are looking great on the stage. Interesting photos as usual. John

  13. We went to many camping shows at the Mpls Auditorium in the 1960s and 70s, I have such great memories of that building and of seeing the various acts there during the camping shows, like “Mr. Sound Effects – Wes Harrison”, and Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, etc. What I wouldn’t give to be able to jump into those photos of the 1956 Auto Show!

  14. The fat, pudgy front-face view of the Pontiac sedan does not compare well to the stylized Ford Fairlane frontspiece. I note that Pontiac was still clinging to its chrome stripe identifiers on the hood. In reference to style change, somebody said….”You can’t sell and old car to new people!” Pontiac later dropped the chrome stripes… “You GOT IT, Pontiac!!!”

  15. I had to chuckle at AML’s mention of a “beach-wagon”. Haven’t heard that term in a long time. I’m originally from Massachusetts and station wagons were often called beach wagons at that time (years ago). I don’t think that term is used much any more, but I remember it fondly.

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