The New York International Auto Show is now open with more than 1,000 shiny vehicles to investigate, an off-road test track to test your skills, and more. Be sure to check out the vintage vehicles on display, all of which were manufactured in New York State.
The vintage New York vehicles include a prototype of a Playboy coupe made in Buffalo, and an iconic 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II that was one of the most luxurious and expensive vehicle of its time.
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Before Detroit became known as America’s car capital, New York was one of the top car producing states from the 1920s through the 1950s, home to more than 100 different manufacturers, from Buffalo upstate to Tarrytown downstate.
New York also was a pioneer in auto racing, and the display also includes a historic 1954 Midget Racer.
The New York International Auto Show celebrates New York State’s automobile heritage with a special exhibition curated by the Saratoga Automobile Museum. In addition, look over these vintage gems on display:
1909 Alco-6 Racer (raced)
1923 Franklin Series 10B Sedan (made)
1947 Playboy Prototype (made)
1950 Allard J2 (raced)
Some automotive history from the Saratoga Automobnile Museum:
While most New York automakers were small, there were great successes like Pierce Arrow and Franklin. During the early years of automobile production in the 1890s, Detroit was not yet the nation’s “Motor City.” New Yorkers of the early 1900s owned more than 60,000 cars, which was 50% more cars than the residents of any other state in the nation. With that kind of demand for automobiles, it is not surprising that New York State had over 100 different manufacturers.
There was even one right here in New York City. Coachbuilder Brewster built its own automobiles from available components during the years 1915 through 1925 in Long Island City in Queens. Later, from 1934 through 1935, the company built some cars with highly original styling, using principally Ford and a few Buick chassis.
New York State automakers of the 1910s and 1920s built tens of thousands of cars. During the 1920s and 1930s, some of the first motor parkways, the precursors to today’s highways were also built in New York.
By the 1940s, more than three million cars were vying for their share of the roads and highways in the Empire State, and the economic implications of the automobile industry helped preserve New York as the economic center of the nation.
Some early New York made cars became famous for quality, reliability and endurance. Buffalo produced the Thomas Flyer, which in 1908 attracted worldwide attention by winning the New York to Paris race and in 1911 by placing second at the Indianapolis 500.
Racing in New York State
Six cars competed in New York State’s first auto race. The race covered the distance from New York City to Irvington-on-Hudson and back, averaging 10 miles per hour. It was in 1896, when few New Yorkers had ever even seen an automobile. Racing quickly blossomed into a major 20th-century sport in New York and the surrounding area.
By mid-century, road race courses and speedways across New York State – many of them located at county, state and local fair-grounds- featured automobile racing events. Auto racing drew hundreds of thousands of spectators, and showcased the skills and daring professionals and amateurs alike. New York’s racing fans applauded the courage of the drivers, and were in awe over the raw power and speed of their cars.
The New York International Auto Show is open daily through Sunday April 23rd.
Photo of vintage racecrs courtesy Saratoga Auto Museum