Clinton Township resident Mike Signorello is  attending his 42nd Autorama, this time with his blue 1968 Plymouth GTX.

Clinton Township resident Mike Signorello is attending his 42nd Autorama, this time with his blue 1968 Plymouth GTX.

Photo provided by Mike Signorello


Local residents to show off muscle at Autorama

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published February 27, 2018

 Signorello transformed the vehicle from an empty shell into an on-road beast.

Signorello transformed the vehicle from an empty shell into an on-road beast.

Photo provided by Mike Signorello

 Jim Cochenour, of  Clinton Township, plans to bring his black 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle to Autorama. With help from family and friends,

Jim Cochenour, of Clinton Township, plans to bring his black 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle to Autorama. With help from family and friends,

Photos provided by Jim Cochenour

 Cochenour basically rebuilt the vehicle  from the ground up.

Cochenour basically rebuilt the vehicle from the ground up.

Photo provided by Jim Cochenour

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Fire up those engines because it’s time for the 66th annual Autorama, taking place from March 2-4 at Cobo Center in Detroit. 

The famed car show will feature approximately 800 of the fanciest hot rods and custom cars in all the land — including five of the cars featured in the film “The Fate of the Furious.” Auto racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. will also be in attendance.

Autorama spokeswoman Linda Ashley said about 175,000 people usually turn out for the event, and organizers are always looking for ways to offer something new to experienced attendees and first-time visitors alike.

There will be six vehicles on hand that have all won land speed records at the famous Bonneville Salt Flats — including the 2017 record-breaking Speed Demon, which claimed the “Speed Week” trophy for the seventh consecutive year with a 438 mph pass on the flats.

“These cars really look like rocket cars, and they run over 400 mph,” Ashley said.

The event brings car enthusiasts from all over Michigan and beyond. One of them is Clinton Township resident Mike Signorello.

Signorello is attending Autorama for the whopping 42nd time. This year he’s bringing with him his blue 1968 Plymouth GTX. 

“My friend owned it and it was basically laid out in a field for a long time,” Signorello said. “I basically brought it back to life.”

The car was “just a body shell, and pretty rough at that.” It had no engine, no transmission, no rear end, no interior, no paint.

Now it’s like a brand new ride. It has a new engine, a five-speed transmission, different suspension in the front and back, and it looks like an original.

Signorello has an infatuation with the old Plymouth Road Runner vehicles, owning some 1968 models himself. That’s what he drove when he was in high school, and he’s owned approximately 65 cars since he was 16.

There have been times where the work became overwhelming, Signorello admitted, and he thought of not returning to Autorama. But his passion for automobiles is just too strong.

“It’s something you get in your blood, it’s hard to get out,” he said.

Jim Cochenour, also of Clinton Township, will attend Autorama for the fourth time with his black 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible. He bought it from his parents. 

“I basically pulled every nut and bolt and rebuilt it from the ground up with a lot of help from friends and family,” he said.

That includes custom paint, a custom interior and rebuilding, replacing and polishing just about every component of the vehicle. While some classic car owners only bring their cars out for show, he likes to take his out.

“If it’s a nice day in the summer, we’re out driving the car,” Cochenour said.

This year’s event will run from noon to 10 p.m. March 2; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. March 3; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 4. Earnhardt will meet and greet fans March 3, from 2 to 4 p.m. WWE wrestler Roman Reigns will meet fans the same day, from 10 a.m. to noon.

“This is the biggest and the oldest (Autorama), so it’s a real tradition,” Ashley added.

For more information, visit autorama.com/attend/detroit/.