Autorama revs up its engines for the Cobo Center

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 26, 2018

 Farmington Hills car aficionado Harvey Ettinger’s 1925 Model T street car will be featured in the upcoming 66th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama March 2-4 at Cobo Center.

Farmington Hills car aficionado Harvey Ettinger’s 1925 Model T street car will be featured in the upcoming 66th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama March 2-4 at Cobo Center.

Photo provided by Harvey Ettinger

FARMINGTON HILLS/METRO DETROIT — Farmington Hills car enthusiast Harvey Ettinger can’t get enough of his 1925 Model T street car, which he made from a kit.

Ettinger, a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer, wants to share his work of art with others  at the 66th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama March 2-4 at Cobo Center, 1 Washington Blvd. The show is presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts, according to a press release.

“I haven’t been in a car show in 12 years, and (I’m) just going back to see what it’s like since the last time I’ve been in it,” Ettinger said, adding that he used to go years ago with his son to almost every show, but life happened. “We’ve all grown up — he’s married and gone. … Looking forward to ... seeing if I can renew old acquaintances that I may not have seen for a while and just have a fun weekend.”

The fun will ensue noon-10 p.m. March 2, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. March 3 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 4.

Ettinger purchased some parts for $450 in 1975 and built his finished car within two years. The value now would be between $15,000 and $20,000, he said in a follow-up email.

In addition to Ettinger’s Model T, he also owns a 1940 Nash Ambassador Coupe, a Model A Ford and a 1939 Ford Standard Coupe. He stores all four cars in his five-car garage.

Ettinger enjoys driving with his cars all summer long during Monday night cruise-in events that he organizes in Farmington.

Peter Toundas, president of Auburn Hills-based Championship Auto Shows and show manager, said in a press release that there is much to see at Autorama this year.

“We are always striving to bring new excitement to Autorama, along with the most spectacular showing of performance cars anywhere in the country. This year, hosting Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the famous ‘Fate of the Furious 8’ movie cars, along with all of our features, makes the Detroit Autorama 2018 a show that no one will want to miss,” he said in the press release.

The show will feature over 800 hot rods, custom cars, trucks and motorcycles from across America and the world, according to the release.

The event would not be complete without a live outdoor Rolling Towering Inferno Flame Throwing Fest, according to the release, which involves two cars and a super truck shooting high flames.  

“It’s extremely gratifying that Detroit Autorama is the home of America’s most important hot rod award,” Toundas said in the release. “This is the Motor City, and Detroit is where hot rod, custom car shows started, so we make every effort to let everyone know about this important heritage.”

Farmington Hills resident Dave Poirier knows about heritage. He will bring out his 1952 Chevy Coupe, which he procured in a unique way.

“I found my car on eBay in Reno, Nevada, at a cost of $16,000,” he said in an email. “I have upgraded it with a new, modern engine, transmission and rear end.”

The collectible car aficionado said that he added disc brakes and lowered the car 3 inches, and added rack and pinion steering. Lowering the car improves the handling and the aerodynamics so that it rides better, he said.

“I have done all the work in my garage with help from some friends. It is now worth $24,000.”

Poirier also has experience with Autorama — he’s been in it 10 times with his 1952 Chevy Coupe and his two 1951 Chevy 1500 pickups, which he has since sold.

“I get to see what other people are doing and what they have built over the winter. I look forward to seeing many car friends over the three days I’m there,” Poirier said. “My son also has had his cars there about six times. I have won multiple trophies at previous Autoramas, which are my most treasured trophies.”

Detroit Autorama contestants vie for awards and prizes for up to $10,000 in cash, plus a custom trophy and jacket.

The first Detroit Autorama took place 63 years ago at the University of Detroit Field House as a fundraiser for the Michigan Hot Rod Association’s efforts to build the Detroit Dragway. It moved to the Michigan State Fairgrounds and the Detroit Artillery Armory before moving to Cobo Center as its first paid public show in 1961, according to a press release.

For more information, call (248) 373-1700 or go to Autorama is produced by Championship Auto Shows Inc. and is hosted by the Michigan Hot Rod Association.

Staff Writer Jennifer Sigouin contributed to this report.