1956 Buick Showroom Display

At the beginning of 1956, Buick looked back on a very successful model year. In 1955, Buick produced as many cars as never before. Almost 750,000 Buicks rolled down the assembly lines. To boost sales, Buick created a new sales aid. The 1956 Buick Showroom Display replaced the format of the 1955 Buick Colors & Fabrics Book and gave prospects the opportunity to see their 1956 Buick in the colors they preferred.

1956 Buick Showroom Presentation Box

High-tech advertising of the 1950s

These high-tech lighted displays were developed by the General Motors sales office as an update of their showroom sales flip board displays used (mostly) in the 1950s. Harris Associates was a division of Plasikorp at the time, and were known for their modern and sleek merchandising displays which used plastic, and plastic transparencies, along with samples for bolster and trim materials.

As dealers typically disposed of the previous years’ showroom material, dealer showroom materials are very rare – they are like the holy grail for 1956 Buick collectors. Only a handful of 1956 Buick Showroom Displays have survived. We know one original example located in the US. A Dealer’s Backlit Showroom Display Case for 1960 Buicks was for sale on eBay for 7,150 USD.

The puzzle pieces we’ve stumbled upon

One day we found a lot of old Buick dealership items for sale. Besides some books and brochures, we’ve spotted a “viewfoil set” plus a lot of “vintage GM upholstery samples”. Curious as we are, we looked deeper into this. The set of plastic foils had 41 pieces showing the roof, the body and the lower body of a GM car. The shape looked like Buick. The samples could have been Buick, but had to be verified. We’ve bought both lots. The fun began!

Identifying the transparencies

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Our first thought was: 1956 Buick due to the color names on top of each transparency. So we digged out our large 1956 Buick Sales Brochure and looked for a car where the perspective is the same as on the transparencies. On one page we found the 1956 Buick Super Riviera Sedan – Model 53. As we put the transparancy for the roof over the color rendering – it matched up very good. We did the same for the other car parts. The result: No doubt, the transperencies were made for 1956 Buicks.

Matching the samples with the 1956 Buick Trim Album

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The next thing to verify were the interior samples. Some of the samples of the lot are smaller. Not all of them seem to be for the same model year. To be sure, we compare them with our 1956 Buick Trim Book. We had a perfect match for several samples. That confirms the model year 1956 and Buick as manufacturer.

What to do with it – rebuild a 1956 Buick Showroom Display?

Lets see what we have:

  • Roof color transparencies
  • Body  color transparencies
  • Lower body color transparencies
  • Interior trim samples

What we don’t have:

  • Wooden box
    This could be remanufactured although it is a lot of work. The measurements are: 19-5/8″ (L) x 11-3/4″ (W) x 16-1/4″ (H).
  • Light and electric system
    Unfortunately we don’t have any idea how this looked like. This can’t be restored to factory specifications perfectly.
  • First image (the car itself)
    Thats rather simple: We could recreate it from the car of the sales brochure.
  • Metal rings for holding the samples
    Another tough job – maybe we could find a similar publication and part it out.
  • Trim chart
    We could recreate it from the 1956 Buick Trim Book and other sources we have.

There are some points which could be done easily. Our biggest concern is the wooden box and its inner parts. We do literature restoration, but haven’t done anything with wood yet. It would be very cool to have a working 1956 Buick Showroom Display. With this we could put the spirit of 1956 Buick showrooms back to life.

So, restore it or not – what do you think?

1956 Buick Showroom Presentation Box 02