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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.

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“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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Crawling Through Motown at the Woodward Dream Cruise

Reliving "Happy Days" in the Motor City.

by on Aug.19, 2013

Bill Mann takes home a trophy for his restored 1970 Dodge Charger R/T at the Woodward Dream Cruise.

Any other day, it might have been a major headache for the Motor City, but if anyone was frustrated by the traffic that jammed Detroit main thoroughfare they were well advised to keep it to themselves as the annual Woodward Dream Cruise rolled into Detroit.

The Saturday event, now in its 19th year, attracted more than 1 million visitors from all over the country, indeed, more than a few from overseas, to watch an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 classic hot rods, muscle cars and exotics cruise – make that crawl – down Woodward Avenue.

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Even after nearly two decades, the Woodward Dream Cruise continues to woe fans with its mix of cars old and new.  “I saw the new Viper,” said a youngster from Livonia, Michigan who would only give his first name, Dominic.

The sighting of the still rare Chrysler sports car was one of the highlights of the Dream Cruise weekend for many fans as traffic slowly moved along Woodward Avenue, an eight-lane boulevard that stretches from the Detroit riverfront to Motown’s northern suburbs.

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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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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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Woodward Dream Cruise a Car-Geek Heaven

Our out-of-town reporter experiences his first Dream Cruise.

by on Aug.20, 2011

Is this heaven? Flame on at the Woodward Dream Cruise. Photo: Alice Hudder.

There is such a thing as car-geek heaven, and it’s in southeast Michigan.

One can only imagine the conversation between a ghostly hot-rodder and the poor kid working the counter at the Coney dog stand.

Ghost: “Is this heaven?”

Kid: “No, it’s Oakland County.”

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OK, OK, Woodward Avenue between Pontiac, Mi. and Ferndale, Mi. isn’t crawling with old muscle cars and hopped-up rat rods year-round. But once a year, the Woodward Dream Cruise brings plenty of classic cars—as well as late-model and new cars that have a performance bent—to the Detroit area, where they cruise Woodward while locals camp out and look on as if they were sitting in the prime seats at the Tigers’ Comerica Park.

They start turning out on the balmy Detroit evenings all week, as if getting into some practice before the official Dream Cruise takes place on a Saturday.  Maybe, some tell, you, it’s better to come out early if you actually want to see those muscle cars move because, by Saturday morning, Woodward is nothing but a slow-moving parking lot/car show.

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Cruise In All Weekend!

Extensive coverage to follow all weekend from the Woodward Dream Cruise and Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance!

by on Aug.19, 2011

Photo by Len Katz.It’s going to be a busy weekend for car fans! The annual Woodward Dream Cruise is expected to bring out more than 1 million muscle car mavens as 10s of thousands of ‘Cudas, Goats and ‘Stangs – along with the odd Ferrari and Triumph — spend the weekend showing their stuff off along Detroit’s Boulevard of Automotive Dreams.

The West Coast weighs in with another classic car show, this one drawing some of the world’s most well-preserved Packards, Bugattis, Duesenbergs and Talbot-Lagos to the 19th hole at the tony Pebble Beach Resort.

TheDetroitBureau.com will be covering both the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise and the ’11 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and will file ongoing reports all weekend — so keep coming back for more, along with our regular coverage of the automotive world.

Big Change in Store for Classic Woodward Dream Cruiser Garage

From service station to serving food?

by on Aug.17, 2011

Columnist Mike Davis sits in front of the Vinsetta Garage during better days. Photo by Len Katz.

There’s curious news for the Dream Cruise coming to Detroit’s Woodward Avenue this weekend.  An icon of the muscle car era will be going through a dramatic change.

Last December, the historic Vinsetta Garage unexpectedly shut its doors.  Perhaps nothing along the city’s main boulevard was more closely associated with the era of muscle cars – or the annual Woodward Dream Cruise that draws tens of thousands of classic cars and over a million spectators to line the long route.  So, many were worried that the retro-classic garage would be knocked down for yet another strip mall or chain restaurant.

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But according to a report in The Detroit Free Press, the 91-year-old facility will reopen next spring as a moderately upscale restaurant – but one likely maintaining the familiar Vinsetta Garage façade and logo.

The old building, with its long disconnected Shell Oil gasoline pumps, has been a familiar site to Woodward motorists, formal (as in Cruisers) and informal (mere commuters), for decades.

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Rain Can’t Dampen Woodward Dream Cruise

Bringing back memories as hundreds of thousands line rain-soaked Woodward Ave.

by on Aug.21, 2010

Who wouldn't want to own the fastest car on Woodward Avenue, says Harold Sullivan, now owner of the 650-hp Plymouth Silver Bullet.

In the days when he’d be out doing some late-night cruising, Harold Sullivan would use Brylcreem to slick back his hair.  On this grey and gloomy Detroit afternoon, however, it’s the steady drizzle that’s soaked back his thinning mane.  But like a million others who’ve turned out for the 16th annual Woodward Dream Cruise, Sullivan barely seems to notice the weather.

The on-and-off rain has done little to dampen the yearly event, the world’s largest gathering of muscle cars, hot rods and classic cruisers.  It’s bumper-to-bumper on both sides of 8-lane Woodward Avenue from the northern terminus of the Dream Cruise, in Pontiac, Michigan, all the way back to the notorious 8 Mile Road border of the City of Detroit.

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And the crowds have packed the shoulders of “the Avenue,” as well, some squeezing under tents and umbrellas, others simply ignoring the weather as best they can.

“I love cars and I like getting wet,” explains 12 year-old Donnie Myers, of Royal Oak, as he gives a thumbs-up to a passing Pontiac GTO.

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Forward Into The Past With The 2010 Woodward Dream Cruise

Classics, muscle cars and hot rods ready to take back the streets.

by on Aug.20, 2010

What's a hot rod without some flames?

Decades ago, before urban sprawl, the largely rural Woodward Avenue was a place where young drivers could congregate, after hours, to grab a root beer and burger at any of a dozen “joints,” then cruise the night away in their new muscle cars and chromed-out hot rods.

These days, as Detroit’s main local artery, the Woodward corridor is crowded with commuters and shoppers, the same sort of routine traffic flow you’d find on urban roadways all over the country.  For most of the year, anyway, But, come tomorrow morning, things will be a bit different.

Forward into the past!  This weekend brings the return of the legendary Woodward Dream Cruise.  Marking its 16th year, the Cruise celebrates the golden days of muscle cars, music and the seeming simplicity of a now long-gone era.

The photos accompanying this story are some of our favorites from over the years covering the Dream Cruise.

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The event began almost by accident when, in 1995, a local car club decided to skip the usual static display of vehicles parked with their hoods open.  Muscle cars are meant to be driven, they concluded, taking their event on the road – up and down a 16-mile stretch of Woodward Ave.

The idea quickly caught on, each year growing bigger and bigger, as more and more folks pulled the tarps off their classic muscle cars and hot rods and, on the third Saturday of each August, headed for the old cruise route.

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