Auto Show Opens - 1910

This article originally appeared in the March 29, 1910 Indianapolis Star. This was published as the initial report from day one of the March 1910 Indianapolis Auto Show. The Star and civic/business leadership from the city really got behind the event as it was important to the advancement of one of the pillars local economy: the Indianapolis automobile industry.
The article is very useful in that it is almost a directory of the local automobile dealership community at the time. Business owners, managers and company names (many times with addresses) are provided. The article opens with an overview explaining, as most of the stories prior to the event do, that due to a lack of a convention facility of adequate size (unlike those in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia) the local auto industry leaders decided on a distributed format (as they had in 1907, 1908 and 1909)to present their show. This meant cars and accessory products were showcased in dealerships, factories and even tents. Visitors wandered downtown Indianapolis to take in the sights and associated information. The showroom floors were decked out in festive fashion for the occasion and described as such:
"While the attractive array of bright machines alone formed a sight that would attract any one, yet the dealers have taken great pains to add additional allurements and have decorated their salesrooms with flags, bunting, flowers, palms, ribbons and other artistic drappings and hangings that make the homes of the machines look more like places of amusement than where commercialism holds forth."
Also interesting is that the article seems to simultaneously patronize women and attempt to manipulate men by appealing to insecurities about their masculinity. It insinuates that unless men step up they will be put to shame by women who will gain greater knowledge about mechanics. Check out this excerpt:
"Women are playing a big part in this year's show. At almost every garage women were seen yesterday inspecting the various cars and show a surprising amount of genuine knowledge of the sport and trade. 'Mere men will have to look out or woman will surpass him in motorism,' said one salesman yesterday, after he had talked his best assortment of statistics and arguments to a group of society belles. Why, those women can recite all of the achievements of the famous race cars and tell you facts about machines that some of the men who boast of being real motor bugs are ignorant of."
Now on to the really useful content of the article, the listing of the various dealerships and the owners/managers associated with them. Although it is not really presented this way in the article I think the following approach to organization is the best way to provide this valuable information.
Indiana Automobile Company - Apparentlty a gentleman by the name of S.W. Elston was a principal at the company and his "hook" to draw people to his establishment was to offer an "educational exhibit" conducted by J.R. Aude who is described as "a famous Chalmers race car pilot." Chalmers was one of the marques the establishment sold, Hudson and Thomas Flyer are also mentioned. A noted exhibit was a ball-bearing crankshaft being turned around by the breeze of an electric fan. Keep in mind this was significant because this was still in the early days of automobiling when drivers were forced to crank their engines over by hand.
Fisher Automobile Company - the dealership owned by none other than Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder and President Carl Fisher offered a unique display that incorporated exhibits from his airplane business which was co-located with the dealership. His ballooning mentor George Bumbaugh and another man, Q.R. Noblit, were on hand to explain the nuances of both airplanes and balloons. Frank L. Moore, the dealership's general manager, was assisted by two men, Harry L. Hammond and Frank Kern, in showing no less than seven makes of auto the business carried: National, Stoddard-Dayton, Overland, Marion, Courier, Empire and Baker Electric. The dealership was reportedly decorated with a blue and white color scheme as well as a large display of trophies: the Speedway's Tiffany-designed Wheeler-Schebler Cup, 18 trophies won by National Motor Vehicle Company Cars as well as the Thomas Taggart French Lick endurance cup run. The showroom was adorned with airplane models hanging from the ceiling while a woman strummed a harp in the background. Also on display was a collection of automobiling apparrel in the "toggery" department.
Studebaker Brothers' Company, Indianapolis - this was apparently the South Bend-based manufacturer's new Indianapolis sales outlet and was managed by a man named Frank Staley. The building had showrooms on both the first and second floors. Flowers were wrapped around pillars throughout the building and reportedly emitted a pleasant fragrance. Staley had also arranged for an orchestra to perform. The article indicates that Staley was working particularly hard to attract interest in an electric motor-powered truck. A Mr. Brownlee is noted as chief engineer and a Mr. Leisure was sales manager, both in town from South Bend.
The Overland Automobile Company - this note in the article was about the factory, not the showroom. Company executives announced plans to take all their employees to the Colonial Theater that upcoming Thursday evening. Vice President W.H. Brown was to play host as the company celebrated hitting a production record of 1,006 cars in March.
Glide Automobile Company - this dealership was managed by F.E. Ott and was assited throughout the show by factory experts W.L. Penny (Peoria) and E.M. Morris (Great Western).
Reliable Auto Exchange - this company presented three makes of automobile: EMF, Flanders "20," and Continental. W.R. Wheeler was in charge of the EMF and Flanders display while R.L. Southern managed the Continental exhibit. There were several EMF models and factory representatives B.F. Twyman, Paul Smith and Charles "C.R." Newby, no relation to Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder and First Vice President Arthur C. Newby, were expected later that week to greet customers and prospects.
Indianapolis Automobile Company - C.S. Hicks was general manager of this outlet. The company carried the Cartercar and the Brush. Their decorations carried a patriotic theme with the Stars & Stripes prevelant. R.A. Harris, Brush sales manager, was expected to arrive later in the week.
The Large Automobile Home, 27 North Capitol Avenue - I am unsure what venue this was. I can only guess it was some kind of display space and was rented by out-of-town manufacturers. Four firms were on exhibit in this facility: Whitney, Pope-Hartford, Rauch & Lang electric and Palmer-Singer. Frank P. Fox, (who later gained distinction as the only driver with a prosthetic leg to drive in the first Indianapolis 500) represented the Pope-Hartford and Rauch & Lang lines. A.L. Sheridan was in charge of the Palmer-Singer display. Interestingly, H.J. McWilliams of Elwood, Indiana is singled out for purchasing the Whitney on the spot. The article notes that this building also housed the Indianapolis Automobile College and that some car owners had decided to take courses there to become more expert in the use and maintenance of their new possessions.
Sterling Motor Car Company - this company's exhibit was managed by F.M. Leary. This company showed the complete line of what is referred to as "Firestone" cars but I am virtually certain this is in reference to Firestone-Columbus
Willis-Holcomb Garage - this company's exhibit was singled out for the beauty of its featured vehicle, a "pure white" Packard touring car. Even the chassis was white, while the body boasted gold leaf trim. The upholstry was reported to be English pig skin. To continue the theme, the floor of the salesroom was covered with white sand and the walls were adorned with white drapery, green vines and flowers. Two women, one on piano and the other playing violin, provided a melodious air. Ray Holcomb and Frank Willis greeted guests.
Hearsey-Willis Automobile Company - this company was headed by F.I. Willis (who also served as president of the Indianapolis Automobile Trade Association - IATA) and H.T. Hearsey. This exhibit was reported to be very well staffed as 12 representatives of the United Manufacturers' Selling Agency were pitching in to answer visitor questions. The firm also exhibited White, Hupp, Mitchell and Waverly Electric models. Willis also had responsibility for the floral parade as one of his planning committee roles. The store was reportedly decorated with potted plants, palms and flowers.
Austin Auto Company - This Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company was holding up in a tent on North Illinois Street. Indianapolis Manager Bert Bronson and M.L. Conley of Frankfort, Indiana were responsible for the display and customer engagement. The tent was reportedly decorated but exactly how is unclear. E.H. Sheppard from the company's factory also assisted during the show.
Warner Auto Meter Company - Company representative J.A. Barclay offered a display at this Indianapolis office. It featured the Warner aerometer, an instrument for early airplane pilots.
Maxwell - this manufacturer had just opened a new Indianapolis dealership with John W. Hayden in charge. His store traffic was reportedly exceptional. Sharing the same building was F.H. Quick who represented the Columbia car line but was only featuring one car.
Automobile Row - This landmark area of the city was along North Delaware Street. This article reports on the displays by the Conduitt Company (dealership), the Oakland Company, Cadillac, Finch-Freeman. Conduitt was a dealer carrying the Knox line of cars (I believe at one point in the article the name is misspelled as "Know"). John A. Boyd and Edgar Updike are listed as managers in charge. Also in attendance was a George A. Crane from Knox' Springfield, Massachusetts factory. 
Oakland, which had recently been acquired by the newly established General Motors, apparently sold direct and had their own dealership in Indianapolis. They reportedly had several models and were managed by George Herff, Albert Lewis, Benjamin Hosser and Herbert HerffCadillac, another General Motors brand, also apparently sold direct, shared space with Delco Ignition systems.
The most interesting display description was from the Finch-Freeman Company. Intricate decorations are described with the use of Morning Glory blossoms and vines strung about the showroom. Large Japanese umbrellas were hung from the ceiling and the flowers are wound around these. Potted flowers added to the adornments. The cars on display were: Auburn, Richmond, Warren-Detroit, De Tamble and Rider Lewis. Music was furnished during the evening.
Gibson Automobile Company - Owned by Cecil Gibson with manager Lee Burns this dealership also presented an elaboate exhibit. The article likens the design to an "old-time county fair" midway. Agents are described as "calling their wares in carnival fashion." Horns were sounding and an array of auto accessories were displayed. A large motor boat belonging to H.O. Smith and George Weidley of the Premier Company was featured. Gibson handled the Premier, Ford and REO brands.
The Parry Company - The article makes note of large sign this manufacturer used to attract attention, one that was originally planned for use at the Chicago Auto Show but disallowed by that city's ordinances. Max Parry is noted as the owner of the Indianapolis-based manufacturer. Urb Schumaker, I. Porter Smith, F.B. Smith and C.R. Smith were listed as the exhibit managers. 
Buick - Recently acquired by General Motors, this company also apparently sold direct. The manager was R.A. Losey who apparently was of significant influence in automotive circles. Both Buick and Welch models were on display. The showroom floor was decorated by vines, flowers and potted plants. An orchestra played music but was hidden by a bank of palm trees.
Jap Clemens - Clemens, a famous race driver had apparently opened a dealership in partnership with R.A. Wilcox to sell Clark and Speedwell cars. The Clark factory was based in Shelbyville, Indiana. Owner John Clark also attended the show.
Crescent Auto Garage - At this point in the article it is not clear to me what was on display in this exhibit. What is clear is that they sold Cole automobiles, which were manufactured in Indianapolis. Still, in the same paragraph we are informed that Henry Wilke and his son Royal were showing a Winton Six. In the next paragraph it is reported that a McFarland Six was also on display. This car was manufactured in Connersville, Indiana, just outside Indianapolis. The exhibitor is named as C.A. Chambers. The car is noted as a likely entrant in the driving contests to be hosted at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and affiliated with the automobile show. The likely driver was listed as Felix McWhirter Jr. Two other men, Bert Adams and Harry McFarland, from the factory were expected to attend the show. To digress the Winton the car is reported to be a "self-starter" which attracted significant attention.
The Co-Auto Motor Company - this dealership sold Jackson automobiles and lesser-known De Mot and Monitor products. C.B. Paxson of Jackson, C.L. Morgan of De Mot and F.E. Stewart of Monitor are listed as show attendees.

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