This Saturday, August 15, downtown Kingsport will play host to the 11th annual Broad Street Cruise-In. The event will showcase around 350 classic cars, many of which used to cruise the streets of Kingsport years ago. If you don’t have a car to show off you can still come out from 2-8 to enjoy the scenery and take a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
In 1958, downtown Kingsport played host to a different kind of car show, one that was part of the “You Auto Buy Now” Campaign. The “You Auto Buy Now” campaign of 1958 was a national effort to combat the declining sales of automobiles that year. Kingsport one was one of several hundred cities across the country that took part in the campaign. The car show became a cooperative effort between new and used car dealers to boost car sales.
The “You Auto Buy Now” campaign in Kingsport lasted for several weeks but for one weekend the campaign converged on downtown. Car dealers around the region brought their stock of cars to display downtown on Broad Street.
According to the May 23, 1958 edition of the Kingsport News, the “You Auto Buy Now” campaign, “will start with the largest display of automobiles ever seen in East Tennessee or Southwest Virginia. Three blocks of Broad will be roped off. On display for customers will be three quarters of a million dollars worth of new cars.”
The “You Auto Buy Now” campaign in Kingsport became a city-wide effort that inspired other retail merchants. Merchants around the city began using the theme “Kingsport Value Carnival” to coincide with the automobile campaign and to increase sales across the city.