From the Archives: 1939 auto show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium

Automobile Show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium
Oct. 14, 1939: Some 150 cars on display at the Automobile Show at Pan-Pacific Auditorium that will be glimpsed by an estimated 20,000 visitors. This photo was published in the Oct. 15, 1939, Los Angeles Times.
(Los Angeles Times Archive / UCLA)

The 1940 Automobile Show introduced 150 brand-new autos to Los Angeles drivers. Twenty-thousand visitors attended the first day of the show. Twenty American and one foreign company displayed vehicles.

The Los Angeles Times reported the next morning: “Visitors learned that the 1940 cars show a trend toward greater individuality with a tendency among many models to eliminate running boards, the introduction of several two-tone color combinations, and wider and higher windshields.”

“They also found the 1940 car longer, the grouping of dashboard instrument dials directly in front of the driver and the use of fewer spokes in the steering wheels to insure the driver a more unimpeded view of instruments.”


World War II started just a month before the auto show. The Times added: “One of the most interesting exhibits is the display of motorized units presented by the United States Army under the command of Maj. Gen. Walter P. Story.”

“The exhibit also includes anti-aircraft batteries, artillery units and sound equipment for detecting bombing planes.”

The show ran through Sunday, Oct. 22, 1939. The photographer used a long exposure to take this image. Check out the blurred visitors on the lower right.

This post originally was published on July 24, 2013.