Updated: Aug 28, 2022
Blame It on the Pandemic!
Detroit has a long-standing relationship with Autorama going back as far as 1953 when they had a total of 40 cars on display. While the event started growing, it didn’t take flight until Don Ridler, a former professional football player, and sports promoter was enlisted.
Through Don’s influence, the event had found new life in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Ridler continued to promote the show until he died in 1963. The Don Ridler Memorial Award was awarded a year later for “Best in Show”, and has been handed out ever since.
Personally, my first memory of this car show revolved around the special appearances of certain cars in the eighties. I remember begging my father to take us to see the “General Lee” from Dukes of Hazard. For those unfamiliar, the car in question was a 1969 Dodge Charger. This was a must-watch show of the eighties. As I was writing this article, imagine my surprise to find they recreated one of the jumps of the General Lee at the 2017 Autorama show (see below)
There were appearances from various Batmobiles, Knight Rider’s Kitt (Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am), and different other movie and television show vehicles. I was first in line to see these famous cars from popular culture. There was always something “magical” about these cars. While I was fawning over pop-culture cars, my father was there to see cars like this:
This year’s Autorama was a little more special as the show was canceled in 2021 due to some pandemic complications. Adding to this show was the first time my friend’s 1958 Chevrolet Corvette, which I wrote about earlier, would be on public display for the first time.
The history of this particular car began February 4, 1958, in St Louis, Missouri Chevrolet assembly plant. The restoration of this vehicle back to its original condition was done by Detroit Hot Rod Sport & Custom. out of Plymouth, Michigan. The Rochester Fuel Injection System is original, and the car comes with touring tires. Make a note of the large whitewall tires in the original article. For the first time since the Corvette’s introduction, this model year came with seatbelts and quad headlights.
There is something to be said of a nicely polished piece of automotive history. As I shared with the owner, the car will never look as good as it does in these pictures!
As luck would have it, a souped-up 1960 Chevrolet Corvette was just down the aisle. As you can see from the picture, the engine is not original. You have to love Autorama!