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Southfield resident to bring Corvette to Autorama

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published February 26, 2020

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SOUTHFIELD — Looking for movie stars, both human and vehicle?

With a chance to see the Ford GT40 and P330 Ferrari used in the Oscar winning “Ford v Ferrari,” Cody Walker from “Furious 7,” WWE Legend Ric Flair and more than 800 of the best and most outrageous custom hot rods, custom cars, trucks and motorcycles from across the country and around the world, the 68th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama has something for every enthusiast.

This year, the show will highlight the most significant hot rods of the 20th century, a group of five vehicles that have never been seen together on this side of the country: Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Outlaw and Beatnik Bandit, Tommy Ivo’s 1925 T Bucket, Bob McGee’s 1932 Ford Roadster, and Norm Grabowski’s Kookie T Bucket, which cruised into fame on the TV show “77 Sunset Strip.”

“We’ve been doing the show since 1953,” said Butch Patrico, co-chair of Autorama for the past 30 years and president of the Michigan Hot Rod Association. “This is our 68th year, and it’s one of the most prestigious hot rod and custom car shows in the country.”

The 2020 Autorama will be held at the TCF Center, 1 Washington Blvd., from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 28, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 29 and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 1.

Begun as a fundraiser for the Michigan Hot Rod Association’s efforts to build the Detroit Dragway, the show has grown over the decades to be one of the largest in the country, Patrico said. It was held at the Michigan State Fairgrounds and the Detroit Artillery Armory before moving to Cobo Center (now the TCF Center) in 1961.

Autorama is also home of the “most coveted award in hot rodding,” the Ridler Award. For 57 years, the Ridler Award has been presented to the most outstanding new custom car shown for the first time anywhere, attracting the finest custom car builders on the continent to unveil their vehicles for the first time at the show.

“The Ridler Award ... has been one of the most sought-after awards,” said Patrico, of St. Clair Shores. “The competitors all want a trophy from Detroit just because of the prestige of the show.”

Patrico said the show is always fresh, since exhibitors can only show a car three times at Autorama before they have to change something on the vehicle.

“(We) keep the show fresh for the spectators ... by keeping the vehicles as fresh as possible,” he said. “That’s why we put an emphasis on relatively new cars and not a lot of repeats.

Lifelong car enthusiast Herman Harris, of Southfield, will bring an orange 2019 Chevrolet Corvette.

Harris said it’s his first year at the show, and he will be joining his fellow members in the Vette Boyz of Detroit car club.

Hot rods have been an interest of Harris’ since he was a kid growing up in Detroit.

“Some of my neighbors when I was a kid had hot rods, and I was fascinated with them. One of the first cars I was fascinated with was a Jaguar — a little two-seater my neighbor had. I fell in love with that car,” he said. “My other neighbor had a 1966 Impala, and my dad had a 1968 Chevy pickup truck. From that point, I just fell in love with cars and trucks.”

While it’s a fun hobby, Harris said, being a gearhead can get a little pricey.

“Then I started buying them, and it can get expensive messing with these cars,” he joked.

Harris said he enjoys the camaraderie of the car club and has been a member for three years. Many members participate in community events, like Coats for Kids and events that benefit veterans.

Along with awards and celebrity sightings, the 68th annual Detroit Autorama will include the Cavalcade of Customs, a 10-car exhibit of specially invited custom vehicles, and Autorama Extreme, which covers the entire lower level of the TCF Center with more than 200 traditional hot rods, customs and “bobber bikes” inspired by the 1950s.

On Feb. 28, more than 3,000 students will take part in Autorama Student Career Day, hearing presentations from hot rod builders and industry leaders about career opportunities in the field, then checking out the show’s cars.

Tickets for the 2020 Detroit Autorama are $21 for adults and $8 for children ages 6-12, and they’re free for children 5 and younger at the gate. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts for $19 and $7, respectively. For more information, visit www.autorama.com or call (248) 373-1700.