North American International Auto Show Fashions
< Lamy’s Diner, 1946
After being discharged from military service in 1945, World War II veteran Clovis Lamy ordered this 40-seat, 36-by-15 foot diner from the Worcester Lunch Car Co., a New England diner manufacturer. Lamy’s had this model transported to his hometown, Marlborough, Mass., where he opened for business in 1946. Lamy sold the business in 1949.
When brothers and drive-in restaurant owners Richard and Maurice McDonald implemented a Speedee Service System in 1948, the limited menu, walk-up service, assembly-line food production, and drastically reduced prices revolutionized the fast-food industry. Neon signs with a single “golden” arch and Speedee, the hamburger-headed logo, flashed in front of early franchises. This sign once stood in Madison Heights at Michigan’s second McDonald’s restaurant.
Nina Ricci top, $1,990, pants, $1,395, and jacket, $2,790,
all at Tender, Birmingham; 248-258-0212. Gold earrings, $1,200, and bracelets, $1,980,
at Greenstone’s Fine Jewelry, Birmingham; 248-642-2650.
Gold shoes, $350, at Kate Spade, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-458-2023.
< Holiday Inn “Great” Sign, circa 1960
When the first Holiday Inns opened in 1952, guests at roadside hotels were mostly traveling families who couldn’t always plan their stops in advance. This sign was designed to be spotted from the new interstates.
As Holiday Inns multiplied, the sign became a message: “Turn here for a predictable, quality experience.”
< 1957 De Soto Fireflite Hardtop
De Soto appealed to drivers who desired cutting-edge technology. Its push buttons replaced transmission levers, and soaring fins and an airy roof suggested military jet fighters. The powerful cars were a fit with new high-speed roadways.
Vintage St. John dress, $200, at Oddfellows Antiques, Berkley; 248-399-6098. Diane von Furstenberg clutch, $345, at Saks Fifth Avenue, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-9000. Dangle earrings, $2,900, at Greenstone’s Fine Jewelry, Birmingham; 248-642-2650.
1981 Checker Marathon
The most familiar and famous American taxi, the Checker, has a Michigan connection: The Checker Motors Corp.
of Kalamazoo built the chunky for-hire transportation.
A company brochure from 1981 read, in part: “Only Checker looks like a taxicab. Only Checker seats five passengers in the rear.”
Dolce & Gabbana dress, $2,395, at Neiman Marcus, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-3300. Tender tights, $15, and Miu Miu pumps, $630, both at Tender, Birmingham; 248-258-0212. Glitter clutch, $95, at Kate Spade, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-458-2023.
< Holiday Inn Room, Circa 1965
What seems basic for a motel room today was luxurious in the mid-20th century. Air-conditioning, telephones, television, pools, on-site restaurants, and free parking and ice were standard amenities at Holiday Inns across the nation. The rooms were also spotless and rates were family friendly. Founder Kemmons Wilson was inspired to include these niceties (and hence setting a new lodging standard) after he and his family experienced dreary, uncomfortable stays at motels during their 1951 vacation.
Dries Van Noten dress, $1,610, and fur stole, $415, at Linda Dresner, Birmingham; 248-642-4999. Gold shoes, $350, at Kate Spade, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-458-2023. Gold dangle earrings, $385, and gold bracelets, $399, and smaller stack, $242, at Astrein’s Creative Jewelers, Birmingham; 248-644-1651. Purse from Oddfellows Antiques, Berkley; 248-399-6098.
< 1959 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper
Volkswagen introduced its “box on wheels” VW Type 2 Bus in 1949. A few years later, VW contracted with Westfalia and introduced converted campers. First exported to the United States in 1956, Westfalia campers provided home-style camping comfort and created a post-war recreational vehicle lifestyle.
BCBG dress, $398, and jacket by Trilogy, $998, at Saks
Fifth Avenue, Somerset Collection South, Troy; 248-643-9000. Purple tights, $12.50, at Delia’s, The Mall
at Partridge Creek, Clinton Township; 586-228-1862, and Twelve Oaks Mall, Novi; 248-349-4151. Potato-chip tin from Oddfellows Antiques, Berkley; 248-399-6098.
Texaco Service Station, circa 1960 >
In 1937, Texaco hired industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague to redesign and modernize its stations. By 1940, Texaco had 500 stations with white-porcelain exteriors that sported green lines and red stars. The design was intended to serve as a beacon to drivers, promising friendly attendants, quality gasoline, and clean restrooms.
Texaco Fire-Chief Gas Pump, circa 1940 >
By the 1940s, drivers could watch as “computing” pumps, like this Texaco Fire Chief version, automatically calculated the gasoline amount and price through internal, calibrated gear sets that turned numbered wheels. The convenience did away with price charts used by service-station attendants.
Gold dress, $1,585, Tender tights, $15, and Charlotte Olympia pumps, $1,395, all at Tender, Birmingham; 248-258-0212. Dangle earrings, $1,300, at Greenstone’s Fine Jewelry, Birmingham; 248-642-2650. Vintage gas can from Oddfellows Antiques, Berkley; 248-399-6098.