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Detroit, West Bloomfield

Autorama car owners gear up for fun

February 8, 2013

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Bill and Janet Christ stand near their 1933 Chrysler DeSoto Sedan in 2012. They plan to bring a customized 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser to the 61st annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama this March at Detroit’s Cobo Center.

Local builders of customized cars say an upcoming auto expo called Autorama oughta ramp up the fun in downtown Detroit next month.

The 61st annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama will take place March 8-10 at Cobo Center. The expo, which bills itself as America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show, is home to more than 1,000 exhibits featuring tons of wheeled showstoppers.

Besides hot rods, Autorama features custom vehicles that include cars, vans, motorcycles and trucks. And locals from West Bloomfield and the surrounding region plan to stop by.

Janet Christ, of West Bloomfield, said she and her husband, Bill, are regulars at Autorama. This year, they plan to bring their customized cranberry-colored 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Christ said the car, which she called “our baby,” is in the middle of being put back together after a special paint job.

“They put the special effect-like flakes or diamond dust on it,” she said. “It makes it really shine when you flash a light on it.”

Ken Carpenter, from Commerce Township, is looking forward to taking his 1940 Ford Tudor Sedan to the show. He said he goes partially for the prestige, and also to see what other auto owners are displaying.

“It just makes you feel good,” he said. “I get friends who stop by and say hi to me.”

Carpenter said he bought the Tudor chassis in 1999 and continued to customize it with features like a modern drive train and black cherry paint. The project was finished in 2006, he said.

“I just stripped everything down the best I could,” he said. “I painted most of it by hand, and I had never done this before.”

Carpenter, 64, has had classic cars on his mind for a long time. “When I was a kid, I used to build a model of a 1940 Ford,” he said. “Someday, I was going to have one. Through a friend, we found one in Allen Park.”

According to organizers, this year’s Autorama will mark the 50th anniversary of the prestigious hot rodding honor, the Ridler Award. This year’s winner will get $10,000, a trophy and a jacket, and the event will include a ceremony open to past Ridler winners.

The show will kick off with a booming outdoor “Cacklefest” marked by the revving up of supercharged dragsters.

The 61st annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama will take place March 8-10 at Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd., in Detroit. Hours are noon-10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is $18 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids 5 and younger. Discounted tickets may be found at O’Reilly Auto Parts. More details are available at or by calling (248) 373-1700.

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