BTDT #3: Auto Towers

Smart Car tower display
I went to the 2009 North American Auto Show on Friday. Before I got into the building, I knew I had something great to show you.

Right across the street from Cobo Center, Smart had built a tower and stacked it full of its Matchbox-sized automotive triangles.

It reminded me immediately of Nash's Tower of Progress at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. The Nash tower was a glass-enclosed box with an elevator that raised and lowered cars inside the tower. Really amazing for its time.

Turns out that good ideas never really die. They just get remixed. Check out this photo on Virtual Tourist of a Smart Car tower in Germany. It's virtually identical to Nash's 1933 effort. The cars rise and lower inside the tower. However, the Smart version is more like a vending machine. A customer could choose a car to take for a test drive, and the car would exit at ground level ready for a spin around town.

Smart's tower: smart but not first. Nash has already been there. Done that.