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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?


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.


Birth of the Muscle Car: the Pontiac GTO at 50

The unlikely story of how the "Goat" came to market.

by on May.13, 2014

Pontiac initially started out by stuffing a big V-8 under the hood of its little LeMans to create the new GTO.

News about the GM ignition switch recall debacle is a stark contrast to a time when it was the unrivaled automotive leader that built cars people wanted – no, desired.

A reminder of those heady days recently occurred at the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California in celebration of the 50th anniversary of a GM car that turned heads, tore up the streets and became an icon – the 1964 Pontiac GTO.

Beyond the Headlines!

It came to market within months of another legendary model also celebrating its Golden Anniversary, the Ford Mustang. But while that “pony car” is still going strong, the GTO – or “goat,” as it was known to fans — has faded into memory, despite a failed attempt to revive the nameplate on one of the last products Pontiac produced before it, too, was tossed onto the automotive rust heap following GM’s 2009 bankruptcy.

But there was a time when the GTO tapped into the needs and desires of young people who were just reaching driving age, becoming an icon of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Ironically, it almost didn’t get made.


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,

Your Auto News Source!

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.


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.

We Brake for News!

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.


Thunderstorms Can’t Dampen Spirits at Woodward Dream Cruise

Over 1 million line Woodward Ave. for annual automotive fest.

by on Aug.21, 2011

Cars of every size, shape -- and color -- turned out for the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise. Photo: Alice Hudder.

Even a drenching thunderstorm couldn’t dampen the spirits of the cruisers and gawkers who turned out for this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.

By various estimates, at least a million people lined the main north-south route through Metro Detroit to gaze on as more than 40,000 muscle cars, hot rods and other classic automobiles came together for the nation’s largest automotive event.

Stay in the Loop!

Started almost as a lark by a suburban Detroit car club, in 1995, organizers initially expected a few thousand fans to turn out.  The idea was to show cars as they were designed to be seen, moving, rather than at the typical static car show.  The initial event turned out to draw more than 250,000, and attendance has only grown to enormous proportions.


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.

Cruise for News!

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.


SEMA 2009: Running, But Not Quite On All Cylinders

“More opportunity for survivors”?

by on Nov.06, 2009

Saleen brought its latest offering, the S281 Mustang, to this year's SEMA show, but there were plenty of no-shows at the normally SRO event.

Saleen brought its latest offering, the S281 Mustang, to this year's show, but there were plenty of no-shows at the normally SRO event.

Veterans of the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association convention can gauge the gathering’s health like an old-school mechanic with stethoscope.

Arriving in Las Vegas early Monday, the show’s last day for set up, taxi lines that in past years would have consumed hours were non-existent. Driving to the Las Vegas Convention Center, our cab circled the large parking lot in front of the three main halls. Normally the space features display vehicles and mobile marketing rigs. While there was activity, vast areas that had once held a veritable midway were largely open.

Keep in tune with the "tuners."

Keep in tune with "tuners."

In the pressroom, journalists arrived to have their hopes dashed about scoring yet another SEMA-logoed roller-wheel backpack (coveted annual swag for more than a decade). Even the more functional, but less glamorous steno pads went missing, both for lack of sponsorship.

People keep working on their cars, said one SEMA 2009 exhibitor.  They just don't spend as much.

People keep working on their cars, said one SEMA exhibitor. They just don't spend as much.


Ford’s “Replacement for Displacement” at SEMA

EcoBoost hot rod will make 400 hp from a 3.5-liter V6.

by on Oct.29, 2009

Ford's EcoBoost V-6 gives this '34 3-Window Coupe replica a high-powered, downsized alternative to the classic 302-inch V-8.

Ford's EcoBoost V-6 gives this '34 3-Window Coupe replica a high-powered, downsized alternative to the classic 302-inch V-8.

There’s an old adage, in the auto industry: “There’s no replacement for displacement.”  But in an era where even muscle car fans are paying attention to fuel economy, downsizing is rapidly becoming a way of life.

In an era when turbos and superchargers are gaining increased interest, Ford will offer its own alternative at the upcoming SEMA show, in Las Vegas.  Instead of a classic flathead V8, the customized ’34 hot rod that will make its appearance at the automaker’s stand will feature a tricked-out version of the new EcoBoost V6.

The new engine – which is just rolling out in an assortment of new products, such as the Flex, Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKS – is normally used in front- or all-wheel-drive applications.  Here it’s hooked up to the rear-wheels and makes a solid 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, rivaling the output of the 302-inch V-8 that might normally be used in the ’34 Ford.

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“EcoBoost technology shows that there is a viable replacement for displacement,” said Dan Kapp, director of Ford Powertrain Research and Advanced Engineering, and a speaker at a “Driving Green” panel discussion at SEMA – short for Special Equipment Manufacturers Association.