Local man ready to show off customized car at Autorama once again
Show returns to Cobo Center Feb. 24-26
By Thomas Franz
Macomb Township resident Mal Forys will take his 2009 Dodge Challenger to the 2017 Detroit Autorama show at Cobo Center.
Posted February 14, 2017
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Mal Forys never thought he would one day participate in a muscle car show like Autorama.
To have a car worthy of being recognized at nearly the top of a class seemed even further out of reach.
However, that all changed a few years ago.
Forys, a retired Chrysler worker of 41 years and Air National Guard veteran of 30 years, bought himself a Dodge Challenger in 2009 as a retirement gift to himself.
After customizing the car, such as adding Lamborghini-style doors and a supercharged engine, Forys decided to give Autorama a shot two years ago after being encouraged to do so by a group of friends.
He has taken second in the conventional hardtop class each of the years since, and he is taking his Challenger back for a third and final appearance this year.
“Just from going to Autorama for years and seeing it, I kind of in the back of my mind was wishing someday that I could be a part of it,” Forys said. “Never in a million years did I think I could participate in such a thing, but people said to me that I should put it in Autorama.”
The Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama comes to downtown Detroit Feb. 24 - 26 at the Cobo Center.
Forys, a Macomb Township resident, started his love affair with cars in the late ’60s, when he studied automotive technology at Macomb Community College.
“It’s just something I grew up with and always enjoyed. I hung around with the gearheads and became one myself,” Forys said. “None of it was inherited. It was all just by experience with people.”
For his career with Chrysler, he worked in a parts distribution center in Center Line for about 20 years, then spent time in a transmission lab before ending his career in the company’s photographic department.
During that time, he amassed a stable of muscle cars, starting with a 1969 Plymouth GTX and concluding with a 1985 Corvette and 1985 Camaro, with several more in-between.
“I wish I could’ve kept them all,” Forys said.
Forys fondly recalled when he began with Chrysler. He described it as a time when everyone was trying to squeeze the biggest engine into the smallest car.
“I never thought I would see it again, but history has repeated itself,” Forys said.
Forys pointed to 2002 as the time when car companies began to have a rebirth in muscle cars, and listed the Challenger and Dodge Charger as such examples.
In 2006, he saw a drawing for a future Challenger model and knew that it would someday be his.
“I told myself, ‘I will have one.’ I fell in love with it,” Forys said.
Forys waited for a manual transmission version of the car to be released, and he purchased one in October 2009.
Forys said the blue paint on it is one of the original colors offered for performance cars in the ’60s, and he got the ideas for customizing the doors and engine from previous Autorama trips.
“My wife, Joan, calls the car my baby,” Forys said. “The best part is she supports me 100 percent, and without that, the dream would have never come true.”
This is the 65th annual Autorama event. It runs noon-10 p.m. Feb. 24, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 25 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 26.
The event features more than 800 vehicles from across the world, including some special attractions like the Batmobile, Little Deuce Coupe and the Zingers to celebrate the event’s 65th anniversary. An outdoor stunt show Feb. 24 on Atwater Street, just west of Civic Center Drive, will feature a “Flying General Lee.”
Car owners compete for the Ridler Award, which is given to the most outstanding new custom car.
Tickets cost $20 for adults at the gate, $7 for children ages 6-12, and children 5 and under are free. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts locations. For more information, call (248)-373-1700 or visit www.autorama.com.
About the author
Staff Writer Thomas Franz covers Macomb Township, Chippewa Valley Schools and the Macomb County Board of Commissioners for the Macomb Township Chronicle. He also covers sports primarily for the Shelby-Utica News. He has worked for C & G Newspapers since 2013 and attended Michigan State University.
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