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April 27, 2009 8:27 PM

A Brief History of the CIAS From its 1974 début

The first Toronto International Auto Show was held in the city's International Centre of Commerce on Airport Road in February of 1974. It was spread over a total surface of about 100,000 square feet and attracted just over 80,000 visitors.

That first show was for new cars only, with very limited additional exhibits of related automotive products or feature attractions. It was then promoted with the support of only one newspaper and a single radio station.

Needless to say, the Canadian International Auto Show has come a long way from these humble beginnings. With the Official International status acquired in 2001, and repeated with the 2003 and 2005 editions, the CIAS now ranks with the world's greatest auto shows held in Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Detroit.

By comparison with its first edition in 1974, the 33rd annual Canadian International Auto Show will offer more than 80,000 square metres (850,000 square feet) of exhibit space, laid out in three separate buildings. Once again, it will likely attract more than 300,000 visitors, almost four times the original attendance.

This record crowd will be treated to a great number of concept and production vehicles, presented in exhibits that promise to be more spectacular than ever. Members of the press will have attended special unveilings and a number of special events before the public days that run from February 17 to 26.

Under the theme of "We'll take you there", the 2006 CIAS will bring together more than 150 exhibitors that will be offering an expanded range of products and exhibits that will create what the organizers call the "Total Automotive Experience."

This year's Classics Salon at the CIAS will present two major themes. The first is "American Luxury" and will present an assortment of classic models from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Among them, cars by Cadillac, Chrysler and Packard, as well as a first-year Thunderbird roadster, and an exceptional duo from the Sixties: a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette and a 1964 Jaguar XKE.

The second theme of this year's Classics Salon is 'Octagon Dreams', in homage to British sports car pioneer MG. The exhibition will comprise 17 different models from every stage of the legendary carmaker's long history; from the pioneering cars of the late 20s to the last MGB ever built, a quarter of a century ago, in 1980.

On loan from the British Motor Heritage Industry Trust will be the most famous of all MGs: Old Number One. This priceless car is the only one of its kind in existence. It gave MG its first race win, in the 'Lands End Trial' on April 11, 1925.

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