Autorama roars into Cobo Center
By Terry Oparka
Posted February 8, 2017
TROY — Troy resident Karl Chase keeps one project at a time in his garage.
Chase will bring his red 1932 Ford Roadster to Cobo Center for the 65th Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama later this month.
“When I first got into street rodding in the late ’70s, my first car was a ’32 steel Ford Roadster,” he said.
“I grew up around cars. My car in high school was a ’30 Model A Roadster,” said Chase, who graduated in 1968. Now retired, he does most of the work himself and also uses Brothers Custom Automotive in Troy.
Chase has owned at least a dozen classic cars, all Fords — including a 1947 Coupe, a 1956 Victoria and a 1960 Thunderbird — always selling one before he buys another. This will be his second time bringing a car to Autorama. The first car he brought to the show was a 1947 Ford Business Coupe, which survived a fire at his home in April 2015. He had pulled it out of his garage, and when his wife, Linda, returned home, she parked her car in the garage, and her car caught fire.
Chase said he’s had the 1932 Ford Roadster since October, after haggling for about six months with a classic car dealership in Ohio.
“It’s new, clean and fresh,” he said of his car. “It’s never going to get any better.”
Chase said he attends Autorama “on and off, every third or fourth year. It’s fun to mingle with the other owners. I know a lot of people down there. If you get too serious, it takes the fun out of it.”
Troy resident Marc Schmelzle and his brother Norman Schmelzle, of New Baltimore, will bring their blue 1967 Chevy Corvette, originally their father’s car, to the show. Marc Schmelzle drove the car with permission as a teenager in the early ’70s.
“We always wanted to restore it,” Marc Schmelzle said. The brothers have worked on restoring the car for about 20 hours per week — mostly on weekends — for a year and a half in the Troy garage of their mother, Cheryl Schmelzle. Master Works, in Madison Heights, did the bodywork.
The big-block V-8 427 Corvette was at Autorama many years ago, before it was restored, Marc Schmelzle said.
“This is the biggest show it’s been to,” he said. “We like car shows.”
He said they have attended the Woodward Dream Cruise and other car shows.
“We like Autorama and seeing all the different cars. It’s always a good time,” he said.
The 65th Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama will be held at Cobo Center in Detroit Feb. 24-26. Over 800 hot rods, custom cars, trucks and motorcycles from across the country will be on display.
“We are always striving to bring new excitement to Autorama along with the most spectacular showing of performance cars anywhere in the country. And at the same time, we want to celebrate the history that made Autorama ‘America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show,’” Peter A. Toundas, president and owner of Championship Auto Shows Inc., producers of Autorama, said in a press release.
A highlight of the show is the presentation of the Ridler Award, given to the most outstanding new custom car shown for the first time anywhere.
The award was named after Don Ridler, the first promoter of the show.
The Motor City Mavens’ 2017 Auto Art Panel Jam and Charity Auction, benefiting Leader Dogs for the Blind, will be presented by WRIF Radio. More than 200 pinstripers from across the country will be in Detroit during all three days of Autorama to apply their artistry to items of every type.
Autorama will be held noon-10 p.m. Feb. 24, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 25 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 26 at Cobo Center. Autorama is hosted by the Michigan Hot Rod Association.
Admission costs $20 for adults, $7 for children ages 6-12, and is free for children 5 and younger at the gate. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts. For more information and celebrity appearance details, call (248) 373-1700 or go to www.autorama.com.
About the author
Staff Writer Terry Oparka covers Troy and the Troy School District for the Troy Times. Oparka has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2000 and attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College. Oparka has won an award from the Michigan Press Association and four awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Detroit Chapter.
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