SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — From Feb. 24 to 26, Detroit Autorama will roll back into Cobo Center for a special 65th anniversary show featuring more than 800 classic and custom hot rods and vehicles, as well as the coveted Ridler Award.
In the Shelby-Utica News’ coverage area, five Shelby Township residents and the Utica mayor pro tem will bring a slew of historic and classic vehicles, as well as one dragster, to the show.
Woody Edwards, 74, of Shelby Township, will bring his 1940 Ford Coupe in “deep black.” He is no stranger to Autorama — this will be the third vehicle he will display at the show. He said he became interested in cars as a teenager and has built several over his lifetime.
Edwards and his wife purchased the 1940 Ford Coupe 22 years ago in Almont, and he has been working steadily on restoring it. Most recently, he replaced the entire interior with maroon Ultraleather.
“I just about rebuilt everything on the whole car,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of changes since I bought it.”
He said he installed a late-model Chevrolet engine and transmission, a Ford rear end, polished Halibrand wheels, air conditioning, heat and defrost.
“We take it out in good weather,” Edwards said. “We go on long cruises on Sunday and what have you.”
Utica Mayor Pro Tem Ken Sikora will show the first hot rod he purchased in 1998, his self-proclaimed “favorite” and “baby” — a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner in “plum crazy purple.”
Sikora said he always wanted a Road Runner, but kept putting it off because he had three young boys who had various needs, such as braces and glasses.
“Finally, my wife said, ‘We can afford it. Let’s go look for one,’” he said. “We found the car downriver and brought it back.”
The Road Runner, he said, is a four-speed. He said the car was in pretty good shape when he purchased it, but he did work on the bumpers and motor.
“It’s strictly a summertime car,” Sikora said. “It’s been to a lot of cruises, family picnics and, when the kids were little, we’d go to Romeo to go to Dairy Queen.”
Sikora said he enjoys the laid-back atmosphere of Autorama, where car guys can mingle and strike up conversations without pretension.
“There’s so many different people with so many different views,” he said. “People just come up, start talking and take pictures. It’s just a fun, relaxing time. It’s a lot of work to put up the display, but once you’re there, it’s like you’re on vacation.”
Linda Ashley, spokeswoman for Detroit Autorama, said organizers put together a “once-in-a-lifetime” exhibition of some of the show’s most famous cars, including the Batmobile, the Little Deuce Coupe and the Zingers.
“In addition to that, we have our stunt show kickoff, just before the show opens, next to the river at Cobo on Friday,” Ashley said. “General Lee will be flying through the air and then landing.”
Ashley added that custom car builders will be coming from all over the country to vie for the esteemed Ridler Award, given to the finest new custom car.
“They are just not to be believed — they are so out there,” she said. “The workmanship is really something.”
The show is scheduled from noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.
Admission for Autorama at the gate costs $20 for adults, $7 for children 6-12 years old, and is free for children 5 and younger. Discount tickets are available at all O’Reilly Auto Parts stores. Discount tickets cost $18 for general admission and $6 for children 6-12 years old.
For more information, call (248) 373-1700 or visit www.autorama.com.