So, every year in August there’s this thing in Detroit called the Dream Cruise. People in classic cars take over the outside lanes of Woodward Avenue between 9 Mile and… I dunno, a few miles beyond that. Loop around, rev their engines, etc. It’s very grass-roots; it went on for a while before it became an official event, and they don’t even shut down Woodward to non-cruise traffic. (Although you’d be a fool to try to drive anywhere in the area for the whole weekend.)
My friend Michael has his office on Woodward, and while in past years he’s avoided the place like nuclear waste, the last couple he’s decided to embrace it, and hold a client-appreciation party Friday and Saturday. We went on Friday. You can find Dream Cruise photo galleries all over the web, but I give you but one:
I guess this is a 1957 Chevy custom job. The year of my birth! A friend of mine got one — not the limo, heh — from her classic-car-crazy father, for her 16th birthday. I drove it a couple of times, although its totally cherry condition made me nervous; if my friend’s dad knew how much she liked to party during her lunch breaks, he never would have given her the keys. If you ever saw a turquoise and white ’57 Chevy tooling around northwest Columbus and environs in the mid-’70s, that might have been us.
Truth be told, I don’t really get classic-car restoration and cultivation, but then, my husband has a boat, so I guess I really do.
A few years ago I did a story on hybrid drivers who “hypermile” — try to get the best possible gas mileage out of their vehicles. One was a big domestic-industry booster, and drove a Ford Escape hybrid. He and a few of his hypermiling friends put a little unit together and rolled in the Dream Cruise, and got booed. He was genuinely stung, but I think he underestimated the douchiness of the local boosters. Classics are a tricky business, as thousands of inheritors of lovingly restored Packards or Model Ts have discovered when they tried to put their dad’s baby on the market and were greeted with a parade of yawns. The classic-car buyer is middle-aged or older, and interested in recapturing his lost youth, i.e., the car he seduced his girlfriend in when he was 17. For people who are 45 today, that was only circa 1980 or so, and I’m sorry, but for my money that’s when the magic went out of the market for good. The Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla of that era were great cars, but it’s hard to imagine anyone getting teary-eyed over a restoration of one today.
I once interviewed a guy in Fort Wayne with an underground garage, a real Batcave with secret entrance and everything. He was into Corvettes, and had at least a dozen down there, all medal-winning restorations. He didn’t do them himself, but wrote the checks for others to do so, then drove away to the car shows. “Let me show you something,” he said, raising the hood on a 1970s-era monster, one of those with a 427 or 454 or some ridiculous V-8 like that. He pointed to spots inside the engine compartment with sloppy paint overspray. There was also a big, splattery drop of a totally different color.
“I saw that, and about hit the roof,” he said. “And my guy tells me, no, this was the quality of workmanship for the mid-’70s. When they’re judging, they look for those details.” Someone tell the UAW. This cracked me up.
Lots of Corvettes in the Dream Cruise, needless to say. About a million Mustangs, of every shape and size.
Chrysler Plymouth Barracudas, Super Bees, all that rumbly muscle stuff. I looked in vain for a ’66 Corvair, the car I learned to drive in, the car my mother (and I, and all of us) loved, the reason she never trusted Ralph Nader again. And then I looked at Kate. Bored. To. Death.
I have to teach this girl to drive a stick shift in a couple years. It would be nice if she would show at least a minimal interest in the pedals.
So, some bloggage? Let’s see what we’ve got:
Miners trapped for months, a 60-mile-long traffic jam that hasn’t moved in more than a week — and so the human race plods onward.
Man, I’m gonna kill the inventor of the gas leaf blower. For now, though, I think I’ll go to the gym.