If you love custom cars and haven’t checked out Autorama, make it your top priority next year! Produced by Championship Auto Show, the folks who organize SEMA, this indoor event runs once per year in 15 different states. Each state has different exhibits, and Autorama enthusiasts are known to travel to multiple shows per year.
After much anticipation, we (my husband and I) finally got around to attending the 2014 Detroit Autorama on March 8th. Like any successful show, it gets bigger every year. While walking through the entryway and spotting the first cars on display, your brain goes into information overload. The amount of eye candy in one room is astonishing. The lighting sets off custom paint jobs perfectly. Unlike many outdoor events, even without fancy equipment, every photo captured the essence of each car precisely.
Aside from the obvious reason to attend this show, other events such as silent auctions, car awards, celebrity meet and greets, live music, Chop Shop demonstrations, and a “Miss Autorama” pinup girl contest keeps entertainment rolling. This year the silent auctions featured auto art panels and raised $43,000 to benefit Leader Dogs for the Blind. Car awards included the famous Ridler Award, established in 1963 and named after Don Ridler, Michigan Hot Rod Association’s first professional promoter. This award honors individuals with their most unique car creations and is only eligible to cars being shown for the first time. According to the event’s main web page, http://autorama.com/awards/ridler-award/, The winner of the Ridler award is chosen from 8 finalists, the Pirelli Great 8, consisting of three traditional hot rods, two Tri-Five Chevrolets, two Pro Touring style machines, and a radical custom. I was lucky enough to see the Great 8 for myself; Among them was a 1933 Ford Five-Window Coupe, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS, and a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Hot Rods by JSK displayed their 1932 Ford Four Door Sedan rolling in with blindingly gorgeous chrome. The winner of the 2014 Ridler award was a glowing yellow 1964 Buick Riviera with twin turbos built by JF Customs that is so customized, “Rivision” is its nickname.
Live rockabilly bands, and pinup contests can be found by venturing to the basement. An escalator on either side of the building leads you down to the old car smell that we all recognize. Breathe deeply–here the display of cars continues with select rat rods and traditional hot rods. Motorcity Rat Rods displayed their current projects, one being a 1941 Chevy. Merchandise such as Rat Fink clothing, metal cutouts, and neon signs line the walls. Stop by the Chop Shop to view legendary customizer Gene Winfield work his magic with metal all weekend.
The Toyarama toy show’s extensive collection allows you the change to indulge in a model car fix, preferably on your way out to avoid carrying huge bags of merchandise throughout the entirety of the event. Although it may be easy to forget to eat while being distracted by the glory of the customs, quality food is also offered on the main floor.
The only regret we took from the show? Not being able to attend the full three days. All of the action, events, and eye candy were too much to cram into a single day — when you go, plan to stay!
More event information can be found at http://autorama.com/