be inspired

January 21, 2018

1948 Paris Salon Car Show




The 1948 Salon de Automobile has been captured in beautiful color slides by Jale Youle of Life Magazine. It gives us an amazing look at how stylish these Early Car Shows were. Lets be Inspired…

The Life Magazine Photo archives are an amazing treasure of unique photos. There are some really wonderful photos of a day at the Barris Shop in their archives, which we covered in and CCC-Article some time ago.  They also have a really great set of photos of some Coachcraft cars from the late 1940’s and many other really beautiful images. Several years ago when I was browsing the Life Magazine online Collection I also came across a series of really amazing color photos taken at the 1948 Paris Salón de l’Automóvil. The photos were breathtaking and showed a collection of beautiful teardrop style coachbuilt cars as well as some production cars in the beautiful Salon at the Grand Palais in Paris France.

Grand Palais in Paris France, where this amazing 1948 show was held.


It was not only the beautiful cars that caught my eye in these pictures. It was also the way these cars were displayed in a pure and elegant way. It was all about the car, not about amazing displays, or wild show cards, and trophies ans sponsored signs. It was the way the whole building was one with the show, the ceiling hanging banners were all uniform, just one color (white) with dark red hand painted letter. And the vendor booth were were discrete, like we have seen in early US Hot Rods shows as well. These wonderful images made me think about the modern day Hot Rod and Custom Car Shows… and made me wonder how it would be if we could organize a Custom Car (and Hot Rod) show today, as if it was done around 1950.

Overview of the factory car section.


Thinking about this took me back to the GNRS of 2011 in Building No. 9 where the Customs Then & Now exhibit was held. For this show the team had created a large number of hand made ceiling hanging banners, styled after the early 1950’s Oakland Roadster shows. It brought a really great vintage feel with it. The displays of the cars was mostly kept very traditional as well. But the vendors in the room were using all their modern ways of attracting people. Which, in my eyes, took away from the overall effect of the amazing Customs Then & Now show. It is of course very understandable that these vendors want to draw as much attention to their product if possible.

But how would it be if these vendors were invited to a special show that does allow only period style advertising. Hand painted signs, logo’s cut from colored paper, pinned to velvet like curtains behind the booth. Vendors, car owners and other officials in vintage period clothing. Authentic music playing in the building. All very much like the Then & Now show, but then taken to the max, and perhaps even find a venue that was already standing back in 1950 as well. It would be the ultimate Vintage Car show experience. I know things like this are being done on a small scale, like in just one booth, or a special car display. But doing it in a full building and taking it all the way would be such an wonderful event…. oh well I can dream.

1948 floor plan for the Salon.


Getting back to the Salon in 1948, this show was held at the top of the teardrop Coachbuilt car era. This show had all the very best cars that were available at the time. Coachbuilders as Franay, Figoni et Falaschi and Saoutchik had several of their beautiful cars at this event, just 3 years after WWII. These Life magazine photos show how these one off beautiful created cars were displayed, how people were invited to take a look inside these car, and how the shops had set up the display with some office furniture where the sales man could talk to possible future clients.

Lets take a close look at this 1948 Show and all those beautiful cars on display. Lets get inspired by the simple yet gorgeous displays at this early show, let look at the way these show signs were done, all uniform, very much like the early US Custom Car Shows were in house sign painters created the show signs at set up day. Lets get inspired to create future Custom Car Shows inspired by these early Car Shows, lets create a travel back in time Car Show…

Coachbuilder Saoutchik displayed several of their beautiful cars in Paris. The green one on the left is built on a Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport chassis. The white car next it, with the landau half top, was built an a Delahaye 175 chassis. The white car, in front of them both was built on a Talbot T26 Record. The wonderful red car is quite likely a Cadillac, with a coachbuilt body but with the Cadillac front kept. The dark convertible seem to be based on a Bentley and built in the same manner as the Cadillac. In this way Saoutchik showed that they could perform their skills on British and American luxury cars as well as the native french cars. (Info from Per Webb)



The grey car in the lower section of the photo is a Citroën 11 with body built by A.C.B. The rest of the cars in the photo are from Saoutchik. (Per Webb info)


Jaques Saoutchik and his employees built the body of this Talbot-Lago after being inspired by the Buick Sedanette. The car was painted light pastel green and brown. Today the car is still around and painted two tone blue. (Per Webb info)


Fantastic overview of the Saoutchik  display.




Delahaye Sedanca de ville created by Figoni & Falaschi.



Besides the Coachbuilders the car of course also housed all the major factory brands from the time. This is the display of the France Ford Veddette.



White Jaguar with wide whites on white wheels and dark red interior with a beautiful France lady…


Panhard Dynavia prototype.


Panhard Dynavia front view.


Another photo of the “regular” car section of the show. Notice the displays, the Persian rug and comfortable office furniture and those hand painted ceiling hanging signs.


Special thanks to Life Magazine, Jale Youle for his fantastic photos, and Per Webb for his amazing knowledge.


20,574 total views, 9 views today

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the Author

Rik Hoving
Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)


  1. An elegant setting for so many beautifully presented coach-built and production cars. The French built some wonderful teardrop designed cars in that era. It was only relatively a few years after WWII ended.


  2. I remember reading this issue of Life in a library. I was amused at how the article contrasted the flambouyance of European design with the “sober and restrained” designs of American cars. How things change.


  3. Very cool pictures Rik. I am not sure your idea of a period custom car show is that far fetched. If the Race of Gentlemen can do what they do one would think you could get enough custom car enthusiasts together under one roof to do a similar period specific event for customs.


You must be logged in to post a comment.