Last weekend I took my third annual pilgrimage east and north to the Detroit metro for the Woodward Dream Cruise, possibly the largest car show in America. Along the way I spent considerable time working on an old Audi, an old Ford Galaxie, and an old Buick. And I finally got to spend some time behind the wheel of a Subaru BRZ. More on all that in the coming weeks. For now, I’d like to introduce you to some heroes of mine.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Woodward Dream Cruise, there’s not much to it. It’s a moving car show, a 5 mph parade of every type of classic car you can dream up (most of them American), stretching from Pontiac all the way down to Dearborn. And the coolest part: you can join in. You don’t even have to be sitting in something awesome. The inner four lanes of the eight lane road are reserved for people who want to cruise along with the beasts, though that’s a pretty informal arrangement.
I’ve belabored the philosophical and sociological points of Woodward in the past, so I’m going to take the next few posts and feature some of my favorites from Saturday. It took some sifting.
Saturday was my first in-the-metal glimpse of the 2014 Corvette. From the lane beside it, the C7 looked every bit as striking as its pictures. The creases are not jarring or gaudy, though the plethora of black plastic vents, however functional, came across a bit distracting. I still think Chevy should have done at least a few of them in body color.
I had no such complaints about the 1959 Cadillac Sedan Deville we saw sliding though the procession in an unforgettable metal fleck orange. This was the pinnacle of the futurist age. The car has tail fins with rocket boosters. Or at least taillights that look like them. I got to explain to my passengers that in those days, since you were pretty much dead in a rollover anyway, there was no need for structural roof pillars, least of all one between the front and rear doors.
It would have been nice to see the Lamborghini Murcielago without all its Michigan Gumball Rally livery, but if the sponsors are willing to cover the $1,500 entry fee for that race, so be it. And you can hate on the monster-blood green wheels all you want, but I think they’re just crazy enough to work.
Another car set to participate in that rally is the K.I.T.T. replica Firebird, complete with K.I.T.T.’s red eye scanner thingy, and a cardboard cutout of The Hoff seductively staring out of the passenger T-Top.
Speaking of Hollywood cars, we’d be remiss not to mention the BatCivic, a ricer’s interpretation of the Dark Knight’s ride built out of an EF Civic hatch and a great sense of humor. Bat wings, Lambo doors, and even chain guns on the hood. It was a great example of the clowning you’ll often see at Woodward. This isn’t a Concours.
We also got a kick out of the lowered Chevy rat rod pickup advertising “Viagra Falls Lumber Company.” No hood was present or required, and all eight headers jutted out of the engine bay toward the ground like an inverse church organ. It pulled a custom mini-camper made of corrugated metal.
It rolled by too quick to give me any details, but I broke my heart on a ‘71 Hemi ‘Cuda in that retina-singeing Sub Lime Green. Sub Lime was only offered in 1971, and the only Hemi of the day was the 426, built at the Hamtramck plant right down the road. I don’t know where that beast had been, but I was happy to see it home.
In a nearby tent we also saw a showroom-perfect Pontiac GTO Judge. As GTOs go, Carousel Red Judges aren’t terribly rare. 5,000 were sold in 1969. But it still drew a crowd. We all loved it and leaned as close as we could without touching it. We all imagined what it would be like to cut loose its 350 hp and turn a few donuts inside that tent, keeping an eye on that boss hood-mounted tachometer.
It’s that accessibility to awesome that sets the muscle car apart from most other enthusiast genres. You don’t have to be rich, sophisticated, or mature to approach one, or even to own one. The Woodward Dream Cruise is the same way. It’s for everyone: monied, Lenoesque collectors and Instagramming tweens who don’t know the difference between a Mustang and an MG but would really like to. It’s as much a 101 invitation as it is a dissertation.
We’ll show you more soon. Don’t touch that dial.