On Monday I was happy to wax poetic about the mythic pilgrimage I took to the Motor City’s Woodward Dream Cruise. I gassed on and on about how one shouldn’t try to experience Woodward through specific impressions or snapshots.
So now it’s time to share a few specific impressions and snapshots. Here are a few things I learned, saw, and I did during my odyssey.
Ford GTs and Zack’s Hot Dogs are still awesome. On Friday Corey, his wife Victoria, and I all packed into Corey’s 1st gen Avenger and headed out to lunch. Our destination was last year’s favorite: Zack’s Hot Dogs. I selected and consumed a battered, deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, cheese smothered dog, and it was ridiculously good.
Even better was the Ford GT we saw cruising on the expressway after lunch. There are worse things to get stuck beside in traffic. We heaped the driver in smiles and thumbs. He smiled and waved back.
The locals aren’t all crazy about Woodward. Corey’s a tremendous comic nut. I look up to him in this respect. (He wants to turn his Avenger into an Avengers-themed car, with a Hulk-fist imprint on the roof.) So we stopped at his local comic book watering hole. He asked the proprietor if he’d be heading down to the cruise at all. “**** no!” he shot back before describing, in printed detail, how much he hated the traffic, and lamenting that his girlfriend was trapped on the other side of the great cosmic rift that was Woodward.
Sunday morning at church we had a similar experience, though this plaintiff was more upset with the “rules” the Detroit-area PD had placed around the Cruise, ruining it from what it had been ten years ago. Apparently they no longer let you do burnouts or light-to-light drag races. Detroit must be pretty fun every other day of the year.
It’s not a car show, but there are judges. Speaking of burnouts, during the cruise itself, I had a conversation with a lawn-chaired spectator. He and his family had made Olympic style number cards to judge exhaust notes. I revved my little boxer heartily, and while my muffler is basically an empty can on a pipe, it didn’t compare to the beefy baritones of the American muscle around me. The judges liked it nonetheless. “Spin the tires,” shouted Dad. “I can’t! It’s all-wheel-drive!” I replied. “Then spin ‘em all!” I decided against an attempt.
Several other groups judged the muffler music along the cruise. An audience makes everything better, even something you think could scarcely get better at all.
The imports were hiding. To say that there is a shortage of any category of cars at Woodward is a bit of a misnomer. But there are so many Mustangs, Camaros, Chargers, Falcons, Grand Nationals, Challengers, Thunderbirds, Corvettes, and Vipers, that you start to naturally look for the rare and different. A ruby in a pile of diamonds will draw your eye. I started seeking out the imports. I really wanted to find a Caterham Seven, but didn’t.
Corey and I schmoozed over to the Auto Europe dealership so we could check out the Morgan 3-Wheeler out front and were surprised to see it in the company of a new Lotus Elise and a $175,000 Morgan Aeromax. Inside the open, breezy showroom we found another Morgan, a Plus 8, a very nice Aston Martin, and something I’ve never seen in all my long years: a Noble M400. It refracted the florescent ceiling lights into a thousand pointed dreams and fired them all at my heart.
Other imported gems met us along the way. We saw a ridiculously terrifying FD Mazda RX-7 with a pizza-sized turbo that made me cringe for the poor apex seals; a stable of brand new Ferraris, including the luscious FF; and a brand new Porsche dealership, which last year was just an empty hull to shelter us from a sudden monsoon. A Porsche dealer on Woodward is a good sign for Detroit.
So much beige. Another good sign for Detroit: a huge turnout. At first I was getting a little fed-up with the profusion of Camrys, Accords, and sundry other commuter cars out cruising. I knew they weren’t intending to be viewed like the classics, and were just cruising with them as was permitted by the laws of the kingdom. But I was worried that it meant a lack of enthusiast cars.
Now, however, I think it’s a good thing there were so many mom-mobiles and throwaway daily drivers out there, because it means that while enthusiast cars may be on the wane, enthusiasts themselves are waxing. Joe Maxima at least knows he’s driving a refrigerator, and longs for a day when he’ll be able to trade it in for a Chevelle SS.
Stories forge the day. As we rolled onto the drag at the start of the day, I asked Corey if he was ready for me to tell him about cars. All day. I need more friends like Corey, because he agreed. So I told stories. I described the Malaise Era and how the Buick fired a cannon during peace time with the turbocharged Grand National. I sang the Lay of Ford and Ferrari, about how the GT40 was born out of a gentlemen’s disagreement. I talked about the Meyers Manx, the rotary engine, the Ford Thunderbolt and why it only had one windshield wiper. I told him about the Cord 810, one of the most beautiful and advanced American cars ever built.
Don’t cruise Woodward alone. If you know about cars, you’ll want to valve off your knowledge about everything you see. And if you don’t know about cars, you’ll want a guide.
I should still have a couple of seats open next year.