Hot cars warm the heart and lift the spirits at Detroit Autorama.
If you’re a Car Guy or Gal, one of the highlights of the winter season in the Midwest is attending the Detroit Autorama. Seeing all the hot rods, muscle cars, racing machines and custom vehicles is invigorating. In the depths of the snowiest of winters, gazing at all the brightly-colored paint jobs and tons of chrome brings hope and inspiration for the coming warm weather and the time for playing with our own cars.
This year’s show, the 62nd Detroit Autorama, filled two floors of Cobo Hall and Convention Center, with cars, trucks, motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, pedal cars, and vendors. Tens of thousands of gear heads and car freaks flocked to Autorama, bringing like-minded friends, spouses, children – and at least one camera each. They trudged around the spacious halls taking tons of photos, meeting other car aficionados and carrying bags of brochures, handouts and purchased goods.
Among the automakers were Ford, Mopar and Chevrolet, who had large arrays of their modern muscle cars, racing and restoration parts, and lots of interactive displays. Aftermarket companies included Edelbrock, Summit, Jeg’s, Flaming River, Ididit, Painless Wiring and many others.
On hand were many celebrities for “Meet and Greet” and to sign autographs for fans, including Richard and Kyle Petty, WWE stars Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels, plus many other TV and industry favorites.
Several seminars and training sessions were available to attendees and many schools offering automotive training programs had information and recruiting booths. Several high school automotive students came with their teachers to get their first look at the lure of car culture careers.
The Cars are the Stars
The central focus of Autorama is the cars – in every form; hot rods, customs, showroom stock, restored, rat rods, racers and tuners. More than four hundred cars were displayed. And, add to that the numerous displays of trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, boats, pedal cars, memorabilia, toys and models. There were company displays, club displays and individuals showing their special rides. Owners came from across the U.S. and Canada to be part of the prestigious event.
Right up in the front of the gigantic upper hall were the Ridler Award contenders. The Ridler Award is the prize for “Best in Show.” For over 50 years, the Ridler has been the Holy Grail for car customizers; the recognition that a car, and its builder, stand atop the heap. Past winners include Chip Foose. Some of the 32 contenders put hundreds of thousands of dollars into their design and execution, and sit in custom-made displays with special lighting, mirrors and signage. Some even have their own websites and Facebook pages. Many past winners come back for adoring fans to take photos.
Most folks around Detroit suffer from an addiction to cars. Detroit was the home base of several automobile manufacturers and still boasts the “Big 3,” as Michiganders call them, fully aware that domestic vehicles no longer rule the global market. That doesn’t matter. Grandfathers came to Detroit to earn a living, fathers worked for automobile companies and suppliers. Many Midwesterners still do, or did, work in the automotive industry. It’s just natural for them to love cars – especially the old cars that are the heritage of the industry and the area. Cars are their drug of choice.
The annual Detroit Autorama is a sign that the car culture is alive and well during the cold, snowy Midwest winter. Soon, flowers will pop out of the ground and favorite cruisers and hot rods will pop out of garages. All will be right with the world.