2022 Detroit Autorama
After more than two years of postponements and cancellations, Detroit’s automotive enthusiasts finally have something to look forward to.
It was the 69th anniversary of the Autorama, which is one of the country’s largest and most prestigious custom automobile shows, which returned to Detroit’s Huntington Place on Friday. Over 800 customized automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles are on display as they compete for the coveted Ridler award, which is considered to be one of the most prestigious awards in the custom automobile industry.
The Don Ridler Award, named in honor of the show’s original public relations director, is given to the car that the show’s judges deem to be the most creative. The winner receives a $10,000 cash prize as well as a trophy. According to Pete Toundas, president of Championship Auto Shows, the competition will be tougher than ever this year as a result of the cancellation of the 2021 show, which was forced to cancel due to an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus that was spreading throughout the country.
The time people had in 2021 allowed them to devote a significant amount of time to their automobiles, either finishing them or re-building them to make them better, according to Toundas. “The automobiles are going to be the stars of the show.” It is expected that some of these creations will astound and amaze people.” The show provides car enthusiasts with an opportunity to get up close and personal with vehicles they’ve seen on television or in magazines, allowing them to peer under the hoods of the vehicles and converse with the owners. Visitors will find everything from restored 1930s flatheads to high-end performance vehicles, as well as everything in between, providing something of interest for virtually every automotive enthusiast.
Dewayne Noble traveled from Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to make his first appearance at Autorama with his project, an orange Volkswagen display that includes a neon orange classic Beetle as well as refurbished family heirlooms. The memories his family created while putting together the display are priceless to him, he says. He worked on it with his wife, son, and daughter, and although they were unable to attend the show, he says the memories they created are priceless. “We taught our children to be grateful for what they have, no matter how old it is,” Noble said. “As a result of her hands-on experience, my daughter is now employed as a welder in a local union.” In this house, there’s a lot of family history. Noble is one of many contestants on the show who has no formal training in automobile mechanics. One of the attractions of the show is that it allows hobbyists to exhibit their work alongside well-known professionals, providing an opportunity for them to learn from one another. “To see all of these incredible-looking automobiles – I’m completely taken aback,” Noble said. “It’s an honor to be included among some of the world’s most prestigious automobile manufacturers and designers.”
Chip Foose, the Santa Barbara, California-based star of the reality television series “Overhaulin’,” which aired on TLC for nine seasons, is arguably the most well-known person at the show. Foose is regarded as a legend in the custom car industry, having won four Ridler awards, more than any other winner in the history of the competition. He’ll be at the show on Friday afternoon, signing autographs and posing for photos with the audience members.
Also appearing are Danny Koker and Kevin Mack from the History channel series Counting Cars, WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Sting, and David Ankin, star of the Motor Trend television series Toymakerz.
While the show’s star power is a major draw, Toundas said another highlight is its 50th anniversary display of Zingers, which are full-sized model cars that were released as DIY kits in the 1970s and are still on display.
In Toundas’ words, “These things look like Hot Wheels on steroids; you’re not going to believe how cool they are.””We made the decision that we would build one of every type of Zinger at the same time, and I believe it has been (approximately) 34 years since that decision was made.”
Autorama Extreme, a “show within a show,” is located on the lower level of Huntington Place and features more than 200 traditional hot rods inspired by the 1950s. Autorama Extreme is free to the public. This year’s lineup includes several classic cars from Trenton resident Jack Burnette. He said the cancellation of last year’s event was such a disappointment that he ended up attending a different show because he was so “geeked out,” and this year’s lineup includes several classic cars from the city’s past.
“I believe that there is a great deal of unmet demand,” Toundas stated. The return of the team is “absolutely ecstatic.”
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