In 1958, unable to participate in the local domestic auto show, forward-thinking Bay Area import auto dealers decided to create their own exposition. Given the novelty and interest in foreign made cars at the time, the auto dealer’s idea proved to be a good one. For nearly two decades the Import Car Show, the precursor to what is now the International Auto Show, flourished and expanded.
As attitudes and the auto industry changed, owing to greater global cooperation in automotive production and the increased competitiveness in the world’s car markets, it was only natural that the Import Car Show broadened its scope to include the products of both the domestic and international manufacturers worldwide. Thus the ever-expanding import show became truly international in 1982 when it moved into its new home at the Moscone Convention Center in downtown San Francisco.
From the first year, the show was a tremendous success and given the sudden increase in the varieties of makes and models available it was literally bursting at the seams.
In 1992, another hall was added to the Moscone Center expanding it to a total of 1.2 million square feet. The additional space allowed exhibitors to construct more elaborate displays to showcase their vehicles and provided spectators a more spacious and inviting environment in which to view them. It also allowed the San Francisco International Auto Show to grow into what it has become today–the premier auto show in northern California and the only one held regionally that lures the dazzling, high-tech displays from the world’s major manufacturers. With almost 350,000 spectators attending annually, it is the second largest auto show in the western United States and the number one exhibition of any kind in northern California.