The Woodward Dream Cruise - The World's Largest Show/Cruise

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Aug 26, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderador® Super Moderator

    Jul 6, 2001
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    Cruisin' Woodward: Ten years later, we run the Avenue with the real Cruisers


    Posted Date: 8/20/04

    Those who started the Woodward Dream Cruise 10 years ago to raise funds for a youth soccer field could have never imagined the fire they ignited. Or is it reignited? Woodward Avenue, a large expanse of concrete and asphalt that begins in downtown Detroit and stretches out through the city’s northern suburbs, was always the place to cruise in the 1950s and ’60s. If you had a hot rod or a muscle car, Woodward was the place to go.

    That first Woodward Dream Cruise in 1994 anticipated 30,000 to 40,000 cars and spectators. More than 250,000 showed up. And more have been coming each year since. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million people are expected to line Woodward this year to celebrate all things automotive.

    The Woodward Dream Cruise is as much about watching what others drive as it is driving.

    Even though the Dream Cruise is officially just one day, Aug. 21, the event has grown into a week-long automotive gathering. On the actual day, Woodward is more parking lot than thoroughfare—which allows spectators a chance to see the cars up close—but veteran cruisers have taken to showing up a bit earlier, to see the cars and to be seen. Taking our cue from these veterans, we ventured out on the Wednesday before cruise day, and oh, there were only several thousand vintage cars cruising Woodward, with thousands of people in lawn chairs lining the street to watch the parade.

    It is a celebration of Detroit iron.

    "If it was stamped out here, designed here or made here in Detroit, you’re going to see it this week on Woodward," said one Dream Cruise veteran. "It’s glorious."

    You can see just about anything on Woodward during the Cruise, but vintage muscle cars are popular, including Pontiac GTOs and Plymouth Furys.

    "We’ve been out here since March," said another cruiser. "Frankly the actual cruise is for poseurs and is a huge pain in the a**, a big inconvenience. We come out till the cops chase us away."

    Which is exactly what they did, beginning around 10 p.m. In fact, the crowd on Wednesday night was so big the police closed down Woodward.

    But everyone was back the next night, and the next and, well, it’s a tradition that just won’t stop.


    The August Dilemma: Woodward Dream Cruise - Free For All: If You Want To See Everything And Anything Automotive, This Is The Place To Be

    (08:30 June 14, 2004)
    (Photos by Joe Wilssens)

    So you are planning the summer's ultimate automotive pilgrimage and-unless you are a CEO with two months vacation or a pro athlete biding your time until the season begins-you need to make a choice. Which single extravaganza will satisfy your motorhead cravings? The Indy 500? Nah, you're still dizzy from last year's race. The USGP? About as suspenseful as every other Formula One parade. Monterey Historics? Please. You're an enthusiast of the people, damn it. Plus, you'd like to see a variety of cars, drivers and events, preferably in one place. Impossible? Nope, just the 10th installment of the Woodward Dream Cruise.

    Originally concocted by local resident Nelson House as a one-off, soccer field fund-raising event, the Dream Cruise is now cemented in our national car culture. It has grown each year, from the 250,000 who showed up in 1995 to the approximately 1 million who lined the byway in 2003-despite the largest blackout in U.S. history. Cruise officials expect 1.7 million attendees and 40,000 noteworthy cars this year.

    We've spotted just about every make and model along the official route's 16 miles over the years. From '32 Fords, Hemi 'Cudas and GTOs, to Ferraris, Porsches and barely street-legal race cars, this is the most diverse collection of tire-burners you are likely to ever come across. With no official entry requirements, costs or forms to complete, the Cruise is also the easiest enthusiast event in which to participate: Just show up and drive.

    This casual philosophy is the Cruise's trump card, as it's rooted in genuine history, not marketing scams. Woodward was the world's first concrete paved highway, and a hot-rodding mecca in the '50s and '60s. In its prime, the strip rivaled American Graffiti for capturing the essence of Americana, though the local constabulary is not nearly as tolerant as it once was: There is a strict no-burnout policy. Unfortunate, but perhaps due in part to the actions of one AW staffer who, in the event's early days, staked out a prime location from which to pour gallons of bleach onto the roadway.

    Of course, you can't expect corporate America to ignore such a large-scale gathering of fanatics. Ever ones to sniff out marketing opportunities, Chrysler, Ford and GM have an official presence, sponsoring concerts, dinners, car shows and displays. Plans were not finalized as we went to press, but expect to find several big-name musical acts, vintage car displays and memorabilia trailers throughout the seven suburban cities bordering the road: Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham and Pontiac. Ford will base itself in Birmingham, while GM occupies three different locations in Birmingham and Royal Oak. Chrysler says it has no major plans, but we won't be surprised if it unveils a limited, Cruise-edition vehicle as it has done in the past with its series of PT Dream Cruisers.

    If that's not enough, each of the local communities offers stand-alone activities, from sidewalk sales and games for kids to car parades and food/merchandise booths.

    Now go tune up your Roadrunner, and if you see anyone wearing 10 pounds of gold jewelry when you arrive, tell them to go back to Cali.

    What: Woodward Dream Cruise

    When: Aug. 21, 9 a.m.

    Where: Woodward Avenue between the cities of Ferndale and Pontiac, Michigan

    What you’ll see: Nearly everything you could want in one automotive event, including 1.7 million car geeks and partygoers, plus approximately 40,000 classic, sports, muscle and every other kind of car you can imagine

    What else: Plenty of food, drinks and family activities

    Veteran’s tip: If you own a truly noteworthy car, by all means get out on the road and join the actual cruise. But if your idea of a classic is that ’87 Astro van, you are better off watching from the roadside

    Best way to get there: Oakland County boasts hotels spread over the Cruise area, but wherever you stay, get to the event early: Once Woodward and surrounding roads fill with sheetmetal, even shortcut-savvy locals need an hour and then some to travel five miles

    Best-kept secret: The best cruising actually occurs in the evenings during the week preceding the official event. Saturday’s official traffic resembles the worst gridlock you’ve ever seen more than it does a cruise


    Anybody and Anything: Everything goes at the Woodward Dream Cruise

    (10:46 Aug. 22, 2003)
    (Photos © 2003 Marc Dixon)

    The biggest power outage in U.S. history nearly caused the 2003 Woodward Dream Cruise to be canceled. But how do you tell a million horsepower-crazed people to stay home, the day before the event? No, the Dream Cruise went on as scheduled, in high heat and humidity—and even an afternoon rain shower.

    It was merely spectacular.

    The great thing about the Dream Cruise (or Dream Crawl, as some call it) is the variety of people and cars. You all but hear people say, “Go ahead and let Pebble Beach cater to the automotive upper crust.”

    Woodward has, and welcomes, anybody and anything. Where else can you see in one place a brand-new Ferrari Enzo nestled up next to a ’53 Chevy pickup? Or a vintage Jag side by side with a tricked-out Harley? Or our favorite: a brand-new—and abandoned—Chevrolet SSR, hood up, radiator boiling over.

    And we’ll never forget the gentleman in the Brooks Brothers oxford chatting with the Elvis impersonator. Eggszellent.

    Vintage rock ’n’ roll screamed from every street corner, and moms and dads and brothers and sisters slowly picked their way through the Vettes and Porsches and pickups and bikes and hot rods. Woodward had everything.

    Turned out the power did come on in time for the cruise, but it would not have mattered: There was enough horsepower on Woodward to light the Midwest.










    Lookin' for the heart of Saturday night in Oakland County, Michigan


    August 2003

    Private and charter jet traffic was a little heavier than usual the night of August 16, as Big Three execs migrated from the Woodward Dream Cruise to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Although rarely mentioned in the same breath, both Pebble and Woodward are seen as great PR opportunities by the automakers, necessitating the late-night exodus. Compared to Pebble’s $100 tickets and European fashion show, Woodward can seem like Cousin Cletus’ Backwoods Barbeque. Just remember that Cletus knows how to throw one helluva hoedown. This year’s Dream Cruise battled the Great Blackout of 2003 as well as a near rain-out, but still managed to draw quite a crowd — one that is willing to travel cross-country to get stuck in a traffic jam. — Jared Gall

    1959 Chevrolet Corvette
    Remember those beauties you used to work on in high school auto shop — the days of endless oil changes on sagging Drivers’ Ed cars? This ‘59 Corvette belongs to an automotive technology teacher in St. Johns, Michigan, and he uses it to show his classes what exciting possibilities exist in the automotive field. Two years ago, the front disc-brake conversion was performed by two of his students.

    1964 Chevrolet Impala
    Last September, this ‘64 Chevrolet Impala was an original, 327-equipped Tennessee car. Since then, it has received a new Turbo 400 and been back-halved. The small block has been replaced by a screaming 8-71 blown 540 big block exhaling through a five-inch exhaust and blasting out 944 dynoed ponies at 6700 rpm. The owner predicts quarters in the low tens, but doesn’t have the time slips to prove it. The car was started for the first time just three days before the Dream Cruise.

    1952 Hudson Hornet
    After a seven-year restoration, this Hudson Hornet differs from its 1952 condition only in urethane paint over the original lacquer and the upgrade to a 12-volt electrical system to support air conditioning, both necessary on a car based in Houston. Even the 308 cu. in. inline six is in original condition. Seems the Texas sun can be pretty harsh on lacquer paints and, as the owner says, “In Houston, if you drive a car without A/C, you’ve gotta be crazy!”

    WWJD Corvette
    Looks like all those “What Would Jesus Drive” folks have found their answer. Judging from the pleased manner in which the Almighty is gazing at this early Vette, we think it’s safe to say that He may have driven a Chevy.

    1929 Ford Model A Leatherback
    Everything but the 4.3-liter Chevy V-6 and 350 tranny on this 29 Ford Model A Leatherback is original, right down to the wooden floorboards and chicken wire headliner frame. An interesting period aftermarket add-on is the “Desert Cooler,” a cylinder attached to rear passenger window frame. A wind driven fan in the cylinder would blow air over water or ice placed inside as the car moved down the road. With a charge of dry ice, as the current owner uses, passengers will complain in the dead of summer that they are too cold!

    1933 Ford Pickup
    Many people have stories about a car they saw as a child and knew they just had to have when they got old enough, but how many eventually purchased that exact car? In 1957, a friend of this truck’s owner bought a ’33 Ford pickup with money from his paper route. They were 13. When the two went to Vietnam in 1966, the truck was put on blocks in a barn, where it remained for the next 22 years. Finally, the owner was able to convince his friend — now brother-in-law — to sell him the flathead-powered truck, which he and his father restored to its current condition.

    1969 Plymouth Road Runner
    Usually, lift-off Road Runners like this 1969 example were strippers; the sort of cars with radio deletes to further the weight-saving, which began at the factory by removing the hood latches and hinges. This one, however, is assumed to be a dealer car because of the number of options on it, such as bucket seats, a vinyl top, and an automatic transmission. Whatever options it has, however, it takes a lot of weight to slow down a 440 six-pack!

    1958 Ford Sedan Delivery
    Two hundred dollars bought this ‘58 Ford Sedan Delivery from an Arizona junkyard, the owner intending to use the rear-end for a project promoting his body shop. He says it looked like someone, “had used the top as a trampoline.” Soon after the car’s purchase, the intended rear-end recipient was totaled, and the owner’s attention turned to his donor. Since its completion five years ago, the car has accumulated “between 30 and 40,000 miles” on four consecutive pilgrimages to Woodward from California, and it still has that original rear end.

    1959 DeSoto Adventurer
    For more than twenty years, this 1959 DeSoto Adventurer has been in the same family. With a dual four-barrel 383 turning a push-button Torqueflite transmission, the car still has power to cruise. It is reportedly one of only 17 surviving in the United States.

    1938 International Pickup
    Although the bed is from a 2000 Ford Ranger Stepside, owner Glen Vierheilig assures us that his truck’s frame and the rest of the body are 1938 International. Under the hood hides a 350 Olds transferring thrust to a Turbo 350 transmission. Mustang II bits support the front half, while the rear is a 4.88 Ford nine-inch. All corners are Bullitt Mustang wheels. Vierheilig had to shorten the frame two feet to fit the Ranger bed, but it paid off with a truly beautiful street rod!

    1958 Ford T-bird
    A classic custom, this 1958 Ford Thunderbird sports a 2 3/4" top chop, lowered suspension, painted bumpers, dummy spotlights, and lake pipes. True to form, the 352 V-8 remains stock, still hooked to a two speed Fordomatic. The factory A/C, power windows, steering, and brakes make for a comfortable ride, as well as a cool one.

    1925 Ford Model T Runabout
    Perched atop a three-inch drop-axle up front, a 355 Chevy small block with dual quad high-rise intake motivates Vince Mannino’s ’25 Ford T-Bucket. Power passes through a B&M Turbo 400 on its journey aft to a ’69 Corvette rear end. All told, the project took Mannino less than two years.

    1948 Cadillac Pro Street
    We saw more tubbed Camaros, Deuces, and Chevelles than we could count at Woodward, but this was the only Pro Street Cadillac to be found. Owner Dave Harten says he bought this 1948 Cadillac as a basket case thirteen years ago, and “Pro street was big then.” Over the next ten years, the Cadillac got a 6-71-topped 402 Chevy big block riding on a Camaro subframe, twisting a nine-inch Ford rear end bookended with 19.5"x31" Mickey Thompsons. The license plate says “Badillac,” and it seems like a name well earned.

    1955 Chevy 210
    Wouldn’t be Woodward without a Tri-Five, now, would it? Of all the ‘55, ‘56, and ‘57 Chevys at the Dream Cruise, this one may have been the most tasteful and well balanced. A Chevrolet 350, bolted to a four-speed and turning a 3.70 rear end may sound common, but the level of fit and finish on this ‘55 210 is anything but ordinary.



    Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise hard to beat for car enthusiast fun

    (17:09 Sep. 03, 2002)

    It took two hours to negotiate the air-cooled motorcycle through two miles of traffic. The engine ran hot—hot enough to scorch denim. And the clutch got increasingly more difficult to keep engaged without severe hand cramp. The thick, sticky, 85-degree air didn’t help, either, especially from under a full-face helmet and racing-weight leather jacket. Doesn’t sound like a great day for a ride, but it was heaven.

    That’s because this was the world’s greatest traffic jam. Because of its size, few things can rival Detroit’s Woodward Dream Cruise for sheer, unadulterated car enthusiast fun. Look on the boulevard or in any parking lot along the 16-mile route and you’ll see something to drool over—or laugh at—out of the 30,000-some cars that make the pilgrimage to this cruising mecca. It’s been this way each August for the last eight years.

    This year was no different. Organizers estimate Woodward had its biggest cruise ever, with more than 1.5 million people crowding sidewalks. And the corporati were there, as well: Ronny and the Daytonas belted out G.T.O. from the General Motors stage; Ford built a drive-in for the occasion. From Austin-Healeys to Zimmers (really), from the burble of lumpy cams at idle to the aah-ooh-ga-s of Model T horns, if you love cars—real cars, and lots of them—make your way to Motown.


    Woodward dream cruise


    (12:30 Sep. 06, 1999)

    I did not know firsthand the pleasure of living in Detroit at Motown's hi-po heyday. I didn't because I was growing up first in California and then New York, and Motown Muscle was as exotic in those places as were the Jaguars and Morgans and Porsches to which I was exposed. I didn't have to grow up in Detroit because the legends that staged along Woodward Avenue not only transcended hot-rodding lore, but made it into mainstream automotive lore.

    Not just American legend, either. The stuff of Woodward is as bathed in red, white and blue as John Wayne or John Wayne Gacey. Don't ask me, ask Alex Law, a jovial Canadian car scribe who seems to work 30 hours a day. Law juggles work between Ann Arbor and London. He was trying to sell the Financial Times a story on the Woodward Dream Cruise. His query went something like this: So 30,000 cars drive up and down the street and a million spectators come to watch. (He used his veddy best Brit accent.) But, Why? they ask. Why what. Why the people? Why the cars? Because cruising is camaraderie. It is an exhibition of cars. Because it's... because it's... because it's cruising. Yes, they say, but Why? This transoceanic ping-pong continues until immutable Law prevails. ``Think of American Graffiti.'' Game, set, match. The story's in the mail.

    Cruising is uniquely American. Social scientists could explain cruising as everything from a Bedouin-like need to travel to an elaborate courting ritual. Males shake their plumage, strut, make primordial grunts and squeals, engage in mock battle. Its obvious intent is to attract female attention. The specific species of man so afflicted is Americanus hotroddus. Still, if that's the case, what does it say about that breathtakingly good-looking blonde in a big-block Chevy?

    Darwin Clark, who could be one of General Motors' best, most knowledgeable product guys-and that's why GM has him working on fixing its dealer system, go figure-stands and watches cars go by. He talks about being out in Pomona and spying a '53 Corvette that would make you drool. Says the guy put all late-model C4 running gear underneath, along with an LT-1 powerplant. ``I'd love to do that,'' Clark says. And who among his peers would understand this passion, this automotive emotion? Fewer than you could stuff in a Bel Air wagon.

    There are children galore at the Dream Cruise. Not only do they line the streets and watch the frenzy, but they're also part of the next generation of cruisers who are tucked in the back seat of their mom and dads' Chargers, 'Cudas, Woodies and Cutlass 442s. This passion will continue as long as we keep handing down the stories. And as long as we cruise.

    This event celebrates a time in our culture that was carefree and energized. Post-war America was filled with bright, creative thinking. Go along the Woodward corridor and see the cars, overrestored to beyond showroom finish. They are being caressed by the same lawless owners who dropped clutches and smoked tires on this very asphalt way back when. They were the engineers who toiled in factory-backed skunkworks by day, and lab-tested them at night.

    I ask one engineer of 36 years if he remembers the hi-po heyday of Detroit. He cracks a wry smile. ``There were tales of one engineer who had himself a '56 Ford with two engines. Can you believe it? He was unbeatable.'' He smiles again and says, ``I wish I'd kept that car.''



  2. midnite

    midnite OT Supporter

    Apr 5, 2002
    Likes Received:
    San Diego, CA
    i need to go one of these years
  3. RyeLou

    RyeLou OT Supporter

    May 12, 2004
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    I'll post my pic.'s at the end of the day when my bro. gets home with the camear. I had to work a party my boss was throwing, but his friends are all loaded. GT500, Enzo, various Vipers, about 7 cars over 1,000 HP (Charger R/T, Roadrunner, Willies (sp?)). I'll post whatever I have. The battery died about 15 minutes into picture taking :mad:

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