The celebration of the 60th Detroit Autorama brought with it an unparalleled level of excitement that filled the massive confines of Cobo Hall throughout the weekend. If you wanted to step back in time to catch a glimpse of how it might have looked when everything first came to be, you merely had to take a long escalator ride down to the basement where Autorama Extreme 1953 unfolded before your very eyes as you gazed through a wall of glass into the exhibition hall.

Once inside, it was clear that this room wasn’t the polished and glamorous main floor with its massive displays and candy-colored dream rides. It was one with weathered concrete floors where you could feel the spirits of hot rodding’s past come alive when a grouping of hot rods and customs came together to grace the show floor for the very first time in Detroit. Welcome to the basement, where time stands still in a world unaffected by the present day.

Walking the 100,000-square foot room, well over 200 bitchin’ cars and motorcycles were displayed in simple rows in a wide-open format with minimal display barriers to allow visitors to absorb their design elements without distraction. It’s a place where culture and tradition ruled with a vibe that was intoxicating enough to make you actually feel as if you were indeed transported back to 1953. Imagine row upon row of slick hop-ups with hammered lids mixing it up with devilish highboy roadsters, slammed sleds, bobbers, and choppers while a steady beat of thundering nitro-fueled live music filled the air from the Twistin’ Tarantula’s, Swingin’ Demons, and Orbit Suns, and you’re just catching the tip of the iceberg. With countless clubs in attendance showing their cars, there were also many notable builders showcasing some of their freshest creations, including cars from the Gas Axe Garage, Brothers Custom Automotive, JoKerr Fabrication, Allstar Hot Rods, Voodoo Larry Kustoms, and Bad Donkee Hot Rods, to name but a few. It was easy to spend hours strolling the floor as you caught up with old friends, made new ones, and had a chance to check out an endless array of cool swag for sale, meet up with well-known artists who were selling their wares, like Jeff Norwell, Keith Weesner, Max Grundy, Ed Tillrock, and Josh Shaw (to name but a few!), dig the classic pin-up model competition, and even get an old-school haircut. Saturday evening there was even a special award ceremony featuring an incredible array of handmade trophies awarded by many of the industry’s leading names to recognize the amazing creativity gracing the show floor. This is definitely one facet of the event that keeps getting better and better with each passing year.