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Sirens of Chrome - The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

Sirens of Chrome; The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models
By Margery Krevsky With Maureen McDonald

Another wonderfully entertaining book has crossed my desk. This one is Margery Krevsky’s celebration of another form of beauty surrounding automobiles called Sirens of Chrome: The Enduring Allure of Auto Show Models. Krevsky co-founded an agency that specializes in selecting and training models – both men and women – to embellish, describe and promote automobiles at the major shows around the world. In fact, Krevsky is credited with expanding the business from just pretty girls prancing around the stage to both men and women trained in product knowledge as well as poise, fashion and mindless banter.

With nearly 200 pages of wonderful photos and just enough narration to artfully tell the story this book is an easy and entertaining read that we can randomly browse or devour from front to back. A logical chronology takes us from the first days of automobiles and motor shows right up to modern times.

Veteran Detroit auto and life-style writer, Maureen McDonald, ghost-wrote and researched the book. Her concise and lively writing style, as well as her obvious affection for the subject, shines through distinctively.

The title comes from ancient Greek mythology. “Sirens” were beguiling female creatures who lured mortals with loaded ships to their island with alluring songs. During the era of automobiles the challenge was to entice potential buyers into paying attention to one car or another. From the earliest days of automobile advertising beautiful women, and sometimes handsome men, were used to draw our attention. We saw the beautiful people in print by way of posters and magazine ads as well as in person at shows and other events.

We can think of Sirens as serving a similar purpose to artful hood ornaments, sometimes called mascots, that were common adornment on cars from the 1920s right up into the 1960s. They were there to adorn the automobile, draw your attention and make a statement about the vehicle. A 1927 image in the book shows a beautiful young lady on the long hood of a Packard in the same pose as the hood ornament she represents.

This book is a fun and fanciful stroll through history documenting how these models were trained and equipped to reflect their times through two world wars as well as through the ups and downs of the economy. We see a group of 1936 “Glamour Girls at the Chicago Auto Show on one page and a Glamour School at the Detroit Auto Show on the next.

If your interest goes mainly toward the automobiles you’ll find lots of four-wheeled beauties in the book as well. From the “Tin Lizzie” and Cord 810, to a Barracuda (cover photo) to the new Chevy Volt, you’ll be able to indulge your auto lust.

Like most good stories it’s primarily a book about people - people like Kathleen DuRoss, a widowed mother of two who supported her family while going to night school as a Ford auto show model. She ended up marrying her boss, Henry Ford II, or “Hank The Deuce,” as he was more affectionately known. Or, how about the beautiful, girl-next-door, Nell Theobald, who was posing with a lion for BMW at the 1966 New York Auto Show when she was bitten in the leg by the beast, effectively ending her career.

Plenty of stories, plenty of cars, plenty of beautiful people – and great entertainment.

Published by Momentum Books, Troy, MI. Purchase through select Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores as well as online at and $24.95