One of the many exciting festivities held during the Detroit Autorama takes place deep in the basement of Cobo Hall where Autorama Extreme 1953 is held. Taking the escalator ride to the lower level is your ride back in time. Walk through the glass doors and you are immediately aware of the dramatic change in venue as you begin to stroll through one of the coolest groupings of both lifestyle and cars in the country.
Promoters of the Autorama decided six years ago to transform the 100,000 square foot room into a place where devout traditionalists could call their own, with enough area to support over 200 of the coolest cars and motorcycles. Vendors are allowed in, hawking everything from classic threads to vintage parts, and scorching hot bands like Graveside Manner, Swingin' Demons, and the Twistin' Tarantulas delivered blazing sets throughout the weekend setting one heck of a block party in motion. Add in an amazing Artist's Alley, featuring some of the finest talents to be found (i.e. Keith Weesner, Max Grundy, Chad Lampert, and Ed Tillrock), and you have the makings of a memorable time. There was even a live pin-up contest, and an award ceremony with some of the hobby's most well-known faces handing out awards for their favorite picks. Any way you cut it, the Basement show is a hit, and you should make it a point to stop by and dig its vibe!
It's not every day you see a hopped-up '32 Ford sedan like Bill Towers' with a 312ci Ford
Traditional Becomes Tradition
Now in its sixth year, the Autorama Extreme, better known as "The Basement," has become a staple of the annual Detroit Autorama. It has seen a steady increase in growth, more than doubling since its inception. "The first year we had 73 entries, which included a number of bikes," Dennis Scott, co-chair of the Autorama Extreme, says. He continues, "This year we have 153 cars and 30 motorcycles. Plus we turned away 40 eligible cars and two whole clubs because we were out of space." (Editor's note: Cincinnati hot rodder Josh Shaw was another "spoke in the wheel" who brought about the first of several Basement get-togethers.)
In a year of many firsts, 2010 marked the inaugural appearance by a Canadian club: the Lead Kings. They also hold the title of being the first dedicated custom car club to show in the basement. "This is a big year for customs. We've been looking for a way to bring in more customs and the Lead Kings are a great start," Rudy Ruedisueli, co-chair of the Autorama Extreme, says. "They [customs] go hand in hand with traditional rods and we'd like to see more of them in the future."
Curt Shumaker's '30 Ford sedan had an incredible amount of engineering incorporated into t
Promoters of the show are also excited about another new feature of the basement, Artist's Alley, showcasing the for sale works of 10 traditional culture artists in various mediums, including paint, ink, pencil, marker, photography, metal sculpture, and computer-aided design. The Alley is the brainchild of Larry Filipczak and the artists themselves developed at last year's Hunnert Car Pileup. "A few of the artists and I were talking about a way to get them involved in the Basement at the Detroit Autorama and we came up with an alley idea. I originally planned to make it a part of my display (Singlefinger Speedshop Car Club) but Dennis Scott really took the ball and ran with it," Filipczak says. He continues, "It's about bringing culture to the basement, the lifestyle of traditional hot rodding."
Filipczak, the promoters, and the artists found the arrangement to be a win-win for all involved and look forward to the Artist's Alley growing in the future. Ruedisueli added, "While it's still and always will be a car show, this is a lifestyle, it's all art, and it's great to have the artists down here."