Its official name is the North American International Auto Show, but most know it as the Detroit auto show. It happens every year in early January and with as many as 50 new production and concept cars making their debut, the Detroit auto show is the premiere car show in the world. The first Detroit auto show, sponsored by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, was held back in the days of the Model T, in 1907 at a beer garden in Detroit. A total of 33 vehicles was shown by 17 exhibitors.
During the decades that followed, the Detroit auto show got more popular as the public's interest, and the production of automobiles, increased greatly. As expected, the show changed locations several times to accommodate this growth. Surprising as it sounds, 1957 marked the first year that international auto manufacturers displayed their wares at the Detroit auto show. Joining the domestic models from the Big Three (Chrysler, Ford and GM) were the various models offered by BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volvo.
The year 1965 saw the Detroit auto show move to its present location at the Cobo Exhibition Center in downtown Detroit. For the next two decades, things proceeded relatively unchanged. When Cobo Hall was doubled in size in 1988, the Detroit auto show followed suit as management decided to expand the show. The following year saw the show change its name to North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). By this time the show was one of the world's biggest, in terms of status and the sheer number of vehicles on display. Both Lexus and Infiniti made their American debuts at the NAIAS.
By the mid-1990s the NAIAS had a few unique feathers in its cap. Its Design Forum invited a closer relationship between industry designers and wannabes, and the NACTOY (North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards) debuted, where a jury comprised of top North American journalists voted for their favorite new cars and trucks. Due to the NAIAS's great popularity, automakers soon began using the show as a stage for world or North American debuts, with cars such as the BMW Z8 and Mazda RX-8 being shown for the first time. In fact, at the 2004 NAIAS, there were 79 new vehicles introduced, and 55 of those were world debuts. Since 1989, the North American International Auto Show has debuted 856 new models. Like a few other major auto shows, the NAIAS uses its popularity to help charitable causes out. As of 2005, its "Charity Preview," held since the mid-1980s, has raised nearly $60 million for children's charities.