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California Dreaming – or Detroit Cruising?

Woodward Dream Cruise and Pebble Beach Concours bookend a classic car weekend.

by on Aug.15, 2015

A classic Chevy Nova with its shaker hood up takes a break from cruising Woodward Ave. All photos by Len Katz unless otherwise noted.

There’ll be plenty of thunder in Detroit today, even though the skies are only partly cloudy. The rumbles are coming from the city’s main drag, Woodward Avenue, where as many as 1.5 million people, and tens of thousands of muscle cars, hot rods and exotics stage are out for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

On the other side of the Continent, the crowds will be building all over the Monterey Peninsula for a weekend of excitement wrapped around the tony Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, considered by classic car fanciers the crowning event of the year.

We're a Classic!

The Dream Cruise and the Concours highlight two very different aspects of the automotive world – and underscore the fact that America’s love affair with the automobile has hardly diminished. But what’s a gearhead to do – unless you have a private jet ready to whisk you from one to the other?

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Woodward Dream Cruise Can Celebrate Past and Present

Forget the ‘60s; the best muscle cars ever are being built today.

by on Aug.10, 2015

The latest version of Chevy's Corvette Stingray can get up to 31 mpg while making 455-hp.

The roar is back. All this week, you can expect to see countless classic hot rods, muscle cars and other exotics cruising Detroit’s main drag as the Motor City gets ready for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

This will mark the 20th anniversary of an improbable event that took shape almost by accident when a small car club in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale decided to change things up. Rather than having its members park their cars for their annual gathering, organizers decided it would be more fun to cruise up and down Woodward Avenue. Word got out and almost 250,000 people lined the eight-lane boulevard to watch. In recent years, that has grown to as many as 1.5 million, with an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 classic cars cruising Woodward.

Cruise on In!

“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” noted regular Dream Cruise fan Bob Wissman, who recalled spending plenty of time riding around with friends in their Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs as a teenager back in the 1960s.

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Cruising Down Memory Lane

Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise turns 20.

by on Aug.16, 2014

A "flamed" hot rod, one of from 40,000 to 60,000 classic muscle cars, hot rods, sports cars and other collectibles expected at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

For Bob Wissman, standing on the corner of Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan is a trip down Memory Lane. As a teenager in the 1960s, even before he was old enough to drive, he’d hitchhike along Metro Detroit’s main drag, hoping to catch a ride in a Ford Mustang, a Pontiac GTO or, if he was lucky, a Chevrolet Corvette.

Woodward Ave. was Ground Zero for muscle car fans and, back then, you’d even catch some executives, like General Motors’ legendary maverick John DeLorean, showing up late at night to street test a new performance car against their competitors.

The Last Word!

The days of cruising are long past – well, not entirely. As summer enters its dog days, the echoes of screeching tires and the resonant roar of big V-8s can be heard up and down Woodward Avenue, a crescendo building by the day as the Motor City gets set to celebrate its heritage with the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

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Record $27.5 Mil for NART Ferrari Drives Weekend Auction Frenzy

But what’s driving the surge?

by on Aug.19, 2013

At $27.5 mil - including fees - the 1967 NART Spyder was the most expensive Ferrari ever auctioned off. Photo Courtesy Drew Phillips, Autoblog.com.

If you think Wall Street traders have been running up stock prices faster than justified you just might be in for a shock when you check out the results of the half dozen major car auctions that were heading for an all-time record after the classic car weekend in tony Pebble Beach, California drew to a close Sunday night.

Preliminary estimates suggest RM, Gooding’s and the other auctions were likely to boost last year’s strong numbers by almost a quarter – with the gavel coming down time and again on bids that handily topped the million dollar mark. That notably included a near-record $25 million paid for a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder.

The Right Bid!

Adding in the auction house fee, the final price came to $27.5 million for the Ferrari, one of only 10 ever built for the North American Racing Team. The car had a more than passing role in the 1968 film, The Thomas Crown Affair, and star Steve McQueen owned – and eventually wrecked – his own NART.

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Woodward Dream Cruise Ready to Roll

Annual event expected to draw over 1 million to Detroit.

by on Aug.16, 2013

The Woodward Dream Cruise, Detroit’s annual celebration of the automobile, officially revs up with a roar this weekend – though the Motor City’s main thoroughfare has already seen thousands of cruisers take to the streets for practice runs this past week.

If past is prologue, as many as 60,000 classic muscle cars, hot rods and antiques – along with some even odder wheeled creations – will roll down Woodward for the 19th annual Dream Cruise. Organizers and community officials also expect to see anywhere from 1 million to 1.5 million spectators, including a steadily growing number from out of state who will have traveled to Detroit specifically for the Dream Cruise,

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The event began almost by accident when suburban Detroit plumber Nelson House suggested his car club stage a rolling event rather than the usual car show with a collection of muscle cars and hot rods statically lined up in a parking lot.  The inaugural event in August 1995 was expected to draw perhaps 40,000 collectors and fans. At least 250,000 showed up.

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2012 Pebble Beach Concours: The World’s Most Exclusive Traffic Jam

From swan cars to Saoutchiks.

by on Aug.20, 2012

Paul and Judy Andrews with their best-in-show 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo.

There’s some small comfort in creeping along in traffic knowing that the car ahead is a 250 mph Bugatti Veyron worth $1.4 million while the one in your rearview mirror is a lovingly restored Talbot-Lago that could easily command several times as much money.

So it goes as you creep around California’s Monterey Peninsula during the annual Pebble Beach Concours weekend.  What began as a one-day car show, 62 years ago, has now become a week of events aiming to appeal to every motoring taste and budget, from the low-brow Tour d’Lemons, a tongue-in-cheek gathering of some of the worst cars ever built, to the Historics where some of the most legendary classic race cars in the world come back to life at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

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But the capstone is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a gathering of rare and exotic sheet metal generally considered to be the single most elegant collection of classic automobiles assembled anywhere in the world each year.

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Woodward Dream Cruise Grows Larger – Longer

One-day event now lasts an entire week or more.

by on Aug.17, 2012

More than a million people are expected for this weekend's Woodward Dream Cruise.

All photos in this article courtesy Len Katz.

Neither storms, nor blackouts, nor economic downturns – never mind over-zealous law enforcement – has failed to dampen the spirit of the Woodward Dream Cruise, the annual gathering of muscle cars, hot rods and more than a few truly undefinable vehicles now recognized as the world’s largest single-day automotive event.

In fact, the Cruise has become more than just a formal one-day gathering.  For at least a week before the formal Saturday, August 18 event, thousands of cruisers could be found gathering along a 17-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s main thoroughfare, by noon.  By evening, when traffic might normally lighten, it would drag to a stop – to the cheers and applause of those watching from the sidelines.

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The Woodward Dream Cruise began almost by accident when, in 1995, plumber Nelson House decided to stage a classic car show hoping to raise some money for a soccer field.  But rather than the usual, static display, House proposed the seemingly radical idea of having participants actually drive up and down the 8-lane Woodward Ave., just as many of them did when younger, back in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Owners Waiting Longer than Ever to Trade In

10 years, 150,000 miles the new norm?

by on Jul.30, 2012

Drive it til it drops?

American motorists are waiting longer than ever to trade in their cars, trucks and crossovers – with 10 years and 150,000 miles becoming the new norm, rather than the exception, according to a pair of new reports.

In the golden era of planned obsolescence, it became common for American new car buyers to trade in as often as every two to three years.  Perhaps that was no surprise in an era when quality and reliability were secondary to styling and automotive one-upsmanship.  But as quality and reliability become essential requirements for automakers consumers can be comfortable a car will last longer – something that has become a requirement as prices rise and the economy falters, analysts suggest.

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Nearly eight in 10 owners will now hold their vehicle for a decade or longer before trading in, according to a survey by AutoMD.com, while a Black Book survey finds that the majority of owners will not trade in until their vehicles have at least 125,00 to 150,000 miles on the odometer – with 200,000-mile trade-ins being anything but rare these days.

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Picking Tomorrow’s Top Collector Cars

Hagerty identifies “emerging collectibles.”

by on Jan.20, 2012

The new collector car? An original Honda S800.

Okay, just maybe a Saab 9-4X might turn out to be something rare a decade from now considering how few rolled off the assembly line before the Swedish automaker went belly-up. But we’re having a hard time believing that something from the final year of the Pontiac Aztek will ever count as having a “collector car” in your garage.

The reality is that there are an awful lot of different products on the market, and plenty more used vehicles you can choose from.  So, if you were really interested in starting a hobby as a collector – and didn’t have a seven-figure nest egg to tap – where would you begin.

The Final Word!

Luckily, we’ve got some friends in the right places, notably including McKeel Hagerty, the CEO of Hagerty Insurance, to lend some help.  Don’t bother to question his bona fides.  His firm is one of the largest in the business serving automotive collectors and that means he’s got the data to show what’s trending up.

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‘Twas the Night Before Xmas, and in My Garage…

A gearhead's visit from Santa.

by on Dec.22, 2011

Ho, Ho, Ho! Ducati Don's Vette is getting ready for Santa's visit Saturday night.

In 1822 Clement Clark Moore, a New Yorker, wrote the now everlasting poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas or, as it has become known, The Night Before Christmas, for his children. Recently I received a version of the famous poem from Don Headrick, aka DucatiDon, of Portland, Oregon, who noted it’s been around for a long time but that he has ‘made few tweaks’ to the rhymes that readers of TheDetroitBureau.com might find particularly appropriate.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and in my garage

…there wasn’t a trace of an Audi or Dodge.
The presents were wrapped and the lights were all lit,
So I figured I’d mess with my Corvette for a bit.

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I popped the release and lifted the hood,
when a deep voice behind me said “Hey! Looks pretty good.”
Well as you can imagine, I turned mighty quick,
And there by my workbench, stood good Ol’ Saint Nick!

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