Autorama 2018

Autorama 2018, Cobo Hall, Detroit, MI March 3 (Day One), 2018

For many, the official start of car season in Detroit is Autorama at Cobo hall.  Usually, the first weekend in March, sometimes that last weekend in February, this is the “Big Show” in Detroit, and may be the largest in the country.

It’s definitely the largest that I’ve been to, and that includes Oakland Rod and Custom show.  I don’t have any attendance numbers, but I’m pretty sure this was the biggest one ever.  I’ve heard from some that they couldn’t get their cars in the show–there was no place for the “Tuners” this year.  The show opens at 9:00 am on Saturday, and I didn’t quite get there until ten.  I didn’t even try for the coveted “Cobo Roof,” but rather took 5th, to Fort up to Washington and parked there.  It’s really close, and I don’t mind paying $20 and not have to wait for parking.

I headed in and I knew I was already in trouble.  It was elbow to elbow at 10 am!  I didn’t even take any shots until I got downstairs.  After I waded in near the stage area, not passing one single soul that I knew, I rigged up for the day.  I really like to get engine shots with my 85, wide open.  I’m a cheap date when it comes to bokeh.  I stuck it on the D5 and the 14-28 f2.8 on the D800 and started with the first thing that caught my eye.

2018 seemed to be the year for first gen Hemi engines, they were everywhere.


There was a lot of cool stuff downstairs, but “Ratrods” aren’t really quite what they used to be.  Not a lot of rust and roadsign floorboards, more well thought out psycho-looking rods that did not go together cheap.  “VooDoo Hellion” from the Chicago area is an awesome ride, too bad I didn’t get a chance to connect with the owner.


There were a number of bikes, custom and restored.  Like this meticulously restored Velocette, by a local builder Aaron Thomas.  I spoke with him a bit, and this is a legit “Barn Find” that he restored himself.  Every last nut bolt screw and washer looks new and the bike appears to have been transported directly from the past.  I love seeing this kind of detail and dedication in a project.


Then there was this.  I don’t know what to call it, and I wish I’d asked him what he calls it.  Everyone wants to know what the bubble came from.  In my mind, he came across it somewhere and decided to build the car around it.  That’s not what happened.  He was helping a friend clean out some storage and carried out a bunch of bug parts and tossed them in a pile.  He got to looking at the pile, and saw a car.  He actually had the dome made by a local plastics company.  Of course this is reminiscent of the Ed Roth “Beatnik Bandit” or “Mysterion” cars of the mid-60’s.  He says it’s a blast to drive, but cold.  No idea when he’ll “Finish” it, but he’s been at it for seven years.  Normally, I don’t like incomplete builds, but this one is an exception.


I headed upstairs and snapped a few shots of the cars upstairs, and met up with our friends Justin and Stephanie that came all the way from Huntsville, AL to see the show.

Autorama 2018

Stephanie and Justin

Sara had to work unexpectedly that day but she made it out in the early afternoon.  She showed up at about the same time as our friends, and we got to look around for a while.

Autorama 2018

Stefanie and Sara

Lots of plugs on this flathead


This is Bill Miller’s 31 Model A, It’s one of my favorites, and I seem to run into it wherever I go.  If you look through my other posts you can find it all over.

Autorama 2018



Around four, I needed to head down and get in my usual spot for the Miss Autorama contest.  After the show, I ran into the amazing and talented Leena Allure.

Leena Allure Autorama 2018



Also, finally caught up with one of my favorite local pin-up gals, Sarah Ann aka “Sarah Sunshine” and snapped a few shots with her.


We finally gathered up with several friends and headed out to Mexicantown for some grub.  I realized that I really didn’t get enough photos of the cars.  After some consideration, I decided to make it a two day affair, and came back on Sunday.  Stay tuned for the Sunday show.