Autorama returns to Cobo Center for 66th year

Local enthusiasts participating in annual show

By: Andy Kozlowski, Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published February 19, 2018

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METRO DETROIT — More than 800 hot rods, customs, trucks and motorcycles from across the country and around the world will be featured at this year’s Autorama.

Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts and billed as “America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show,” the event, now in its 66th year, will take place March 2-4 at Cobo Center in Detroit. Times are noon-10 p.m. on Friday, March 2; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, March 3; and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday, March 4. 

Returning to Autorama with a black 1966 BSA Lightning motorcycle is Don Halas, of St. Clair Shores. In 2017, Halas brought a red 1966 Sears Allstate motorcycle and a 1970s-era Triumph Chopper to the show. He said he enjoys bringing motorcycles to Autorama to “relive the old days, the fountain of youth.”

This year’s bike is a British motorcycle.

“That was the cat’s meow back in the day,” Halas said. “I’ve owned it about four or five years. I did a semi-restore job on it.”

Motorcycles are getting more popular at Autorama, Halas said. 

“It brings a smile. They just remember back in the day when things were lucky, free and young instead of getting tied down with a mortgage, house payment and work,” he said. 

There will be a lot to see at this year’s Autorama, according to spokesperson Linda Ashley. One highlight is a special exhibit of five land-speed racers that ran at the Bonneville Salt Flats, including the 2017 record-breaking Speed Demon, which hit nearly 440 mph. Another highlight is a special appearance by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. on March 3, including a meet-and-greet with autographs for the fans. And on March 2, the show will kick off at 11:45 a.m. with a “Flame Throwing Fest” outside Cobo Hall, where exhaust flames will shoot up in spectacular fashion. 

“We have more than 800 of the most amazing chopped and channeled vehicles from across the country and Canada vying for honors. It’s like seeing Hot Wheels grown up, and there is always something new and totally unbelievable around every corner,” Ashley said. “It’s a must-do experience for car lovers in Michigan.

“I personally love the amazing creativity that is shown,” she added. “It’s inspiring to know that individuals pour their heart and souls into these vehicles, whether (they’re) competing for the top Ridler Award or they’re the personal creations of gear-heads who work for months and years in their own garages to fulfill their personal vision.”

Admission to Autorama costs $20 for adults, $7 for children ages 6-12, and is free for children ages 5 and younger. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts. For more information, call (248) 373-1700 or visit