Poster boy for motoring: How the Geneva Motor Show set out its stall over the years

A pair of wings mark the first Geneva Motor Show in 1924. © - Pictures free of right.When they threw open the doors to let in the public in 1905 for the first ever motor show in Geneva there were just 59 exhibitors with their wares on display.

It was four years since Queen Victoria had died and the Wright brothers were still grappling with aeroplane flight in the prairies of North America.

Fast forward 100 years and the number of makes on display had swelled to a staggering 1,120 with a record 747,700 visitors. This compares with the 13,000 who first stepped in 1905 to take in the hot new Edwardian-era designs for the roads.

But from its inception the motor show has advertised its growing reach and success with a series of stunning poster designs which we show here.

A huge pair of white wings reaching up to the heavens from a car on the 1924 poster gives a sense of the ambition of those organising the annual event for the first time.

[Gallery: Posters of the Geneva Motor Show through the years
]

One of the organisers' first decisions had been to set the dates the previous year for the show they would officially name as the 1st International Motor, Moto and Cycle Show.

An enigmatic design advertised the 1934 show. © - Pictures free of right.Its success was such that a 8,000-metre square exhibition hall had to be built to house all the car exhibitors with the motorcycles on show in an adjacent building.

The two buildings were linked by a moving ‘magic carpet’ footpath which transported the public from one arena to the other. The impact on the Swiss roads was also immediate as there was a surge in car sales in the country from 33,000 the previous year to 39,000.

The posters also echo the mood culturally and politically of the eras they take part in.

The 1934 poster showing half of a robotic-like face with a hand holding a car has echoes of the poster of the influential 1927 German Expressionist film Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.

Five years later and the political landscape is reflected in the poster of the event taking place just five months before the outbreak of World War II.

It shows the various countries taking part with the swastika of Nazi Germany sitting alongside that of Britain, France and the US.

But two years after the end of hostilities it was back becoming the first motor show in Europe to reopen its doors. It was a massive success with 305 exhibitors and 185,000 visitors. From then on the numbers kept on growing and growing.

The posters veer from intricate designs to ones of extreme simplicity which are stunningly effective such as the one from 1951 which has the announcement of the show simply illustrated by a set of headlights.

Bright and colourful: Geneva posters from 1963, 1975 and 2000. © - Pictures free of right.

In the Sixties more abstract designs emerge. Then in the 1980s there appears a scene (1984) which is familiar to those who go to any motor shows which shows members of a crowd clothed in their national colours gathering around and admiring the latest car model.

In the Nineties sleek designs emerge one more with the 1992 one showing just silhouettes or cars fading in to the distance once more showing how designs have evolved over the years.

Geneva uses the fact that there is no national motor industry in Switzerland to its advantage claiming that because of this it offers visitors to the show an unbiased view of the industry.

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