Owner/designer Bruce Elder...
Owner/designer Bruce Elder worked with builder Larry Rathburn on Elder's 999 car-what they call a '29 Ford Sport phaeton. Lots of nickel plating everywhere you look on this one, thanks to Steve Jones.
Everywhere you look, history is all around Detroit. Dozens of statues are sprinkled around the city commemorating soldiers and sailors, politicians, and warriors from throughout the past century. When it comes to the automobile, you really can't get a more historic town than Detroit, as nearly every major (and minor) car manufacturer you can think of was either based in the city or at least nearby (one impressive list compiled 183 Michigan-based car manufacturers since the turn of the last century).
Even the Detroit Autorama, itself a facet of the city's automotive history by the simple fact it turned 58 years old in 2010, celebrated some history in the making at this year's show, proving there are still some surprises left in the indoor car show genre.
The Detroit Autorama (or, simply "Detroit" to those who attend regularly) is, all at once, a spectacle, a sensory-inducing event, and a little bit of circus thrown in for good measure.
Clean and simple is all you...
Clean and simple is all you need to look good. Bob Adams, from Oakland, MI, brought his recently finished '53 Ford Sunliner to Cobo Center, which is powered by a Ford 302 backed to an AOD trans.
The very best builders in the country plan for years to either enter vehicles they own themselves, or at least one of their customer's cars, in the hopes of not just winning a First Place trophy for their particular class, but perhaps be picked as one of the eight contenders (collectively known as the Pirelli Great 8) for the show's top prize: the Don Ridler Memorial Award.
Given to a car owner whose first-time-shown car exhibits creativity along with a masterful attention to detail, the award is a little different from any other "Best of Show" type of award found elsewhere. Butch Patrico, Autorama's head and the person who oversees the exclusive team who judges the contenders, commented on the Ridler this way: "I think the Ridler differs from other Best in Show awards because we not only judge a vehicle on how well it is done but also by its form, function, and the beauty of the overall design. Yes, we all look at the individual parts, pieces, and groups, meaning interior, engine, body, etc., but also the vehicle as a total package, a sum of all the parts, areas, or groups. I think if you look at a Ridler contender in that fashion you start to develop an insight as to what the owner/builder was trying to accomplish. I always look at the total product first. I like to stand back and just look at the entire vehicle and study it before I dive in and start looking at the workmanship, detail, and quality. We also interview the owner and builder. It really helps the judging because you learn a little more about the car from concept to build." This year saw 33 entries compete just for the Pirelli Great 8 and, after being announced, the eight finalists have to wait three days before knowing the results of the judging.
Traditional hot rods have...
Traditional hot rods have been making a strong comeback, and the textbook look doesn't get any better than Fabrice Monceaux's '29 Ford roadster equipped with a detailed 409 motor. Based in Delson, Quebec, Canada, Monceaux is also editor/publisher of V8 Passion magazine.
For the spectator, there were nearly 1,000 other vehicles on display at the show, with entries coming from 22 states and two Canadian provinces. Being Detroit based, the show leans a little more toward the performance side when speaking about the show cars, so you'll find more show 'n' go vehicles featured than you'd find on a West Coast-based event. But that makes sense as the Detroit Autorama began nearly six decades ago when a group of car clubs formed the Michigan Hot Rod Association and organized a car show to help fund a local dragstrip, so racing is obviously in the founder's blood.
In fact, a special area at this year's event was set aside for the Drag City USA Vintage Dragster Display, which featured a group of "Big Daddy" Don Garlits' Swap Rat dragsters from the early '60s as well as Connie Kalitta's Bounty Hunter from 1967. Plus, as a bonus, Kalitta was on hand to sign autographs.