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Autorama to feature locally owned ‘Green Hornet’ car

By: Mary Beth Almond, Erin McClary | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 16, 2011

 Mark Marougi, an avid collector of famous cars, is bringing Black Beauty, featured in the 1960s “The Green Hornet” TV series, to this year’s Autorama at Cobo Center Feb. 25-27. The car’s interior features a video screen and speakers for communications, among other fictional devices.

Mark Marougi, an avid collector of famous cars, is bringing Black Beauty, featured in the 1960s “The Green Hornet” TV series, to this year’s Autorama at Cobo Center Feb. 25-27. The car’s interior features a video screen and speakers for communications, among other fictional devices.

Photo by David Schreiber

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Whether it’s an Oldsmobile or a Batmobile, every car junkie has an automotive preference.

But regardless of what they fancy, local enthusiasts will once again come together at this year’s Meguiar’s Autorama, presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts, at Cobo Center Feb. 25-27. 2011 marks the event’s 59th year.

This year’s show will feature a Hollywood Legends area showcasing the famous rides of old TV characters from classic shows like “The Green Hornet” and “The Monkees.”

In Mark Marougi’s Bloomfield Township garage, he proudly keeps up the original 1966 Chrysler Imperial Black Beauty — which gained notoriety with its green headlights in the 1960s TV show “The Green Hornet.”

Next to Black Beauty, which will be part of the Hollywood Legends at this year’s Autorama, in his garage is an original General Lee Charger, well known for its stunts in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

Marougi has the actual title from Warner Bros. for his General Lee. He purchased Black Beauty from George Barris, who — aside from General Lee and the Monkee-Mobile — built other legendary Hollywood vehicles, such as the Batmobile, Munster’s Koach and GreaseLightening. But Dean Jeffires, Barris’ right-hand man, is the mechanic credited for building Black Beauty, said Marougi, an avid collector of famous cars.

“I never actually owned a lot of real movie cars until 2005. Before then, I owned a bunch of muscle cars,” he said. “They were kind of getting boring to me because anyone could own a Charger or a Roadrunner.”

So he sent Barris an e-mail. A short time later, Barris’ son replied. Next thing Marougi knew, he was in Barris’ garage looking at classic Hollywood cars, attending celebrity-studded auctions and making offers.

He’s currently the owner of Black Beauty and two General Lee stunt cars.

“I have a whole different group of friends now,” he said. “I know where almost every movie car is in the world.”

Marougi has collected, redone and sold cars for many years — throughout those years, he said, he’s probably owned 50 different cars. He goes to Autorama every year, but this is the first time he’s showing.

A few of his buddies — one of whom owns the original Monkee-Mobile — will also be showing in the Hollywood Legends area of Autorama this year.

“I’m doing it because we’re all doing it together,” said Marougi, a hobbyist and local wine shop owner.

His years of collecting movie cars have left him with fond memories and a friendship with Barris, whom he idolizes, and his crew.

“It’s pretty wild to even have a vehicle like this in Detroit,” he said of Black Beauty and General Lee.

A self-proclaimed “Oldsmobile guy,” Doug Width of Bloomfield Hills has always been interested in cars.

After retiring as a longtime supplier to the automotive industry, the 73-year-old became a member of the Motor City Rockets Oldsmobile club and began pursing his passion — restoring classic cars to their original condition — full time.

Although he’s worked on many cars over the years, his pride and joy is his 1932 Oldsmobile Convertible, which he will show off at Autorama for the very first time this year.

Width first came across the rare automobile at an auction in Indiana.

“I have only been able to locate six of them registered in America in all my searching,” he said.

Of all his cars, Width’s two-tone green 1932 Oldsmobile Convertible took him the most time to complete. In fact, he spent five years restoring the car to its original condition.

“I took the body off and began restoring everything, in detail. I tried to make it perfect,” he said of his proudest restoration job. “It was really difficult to find all the parts, but now it’s as if it was back in the showroom in 1932.”

Tickets are being sold in advance at any O’Reily Auto Parts store locations for $15 for adults and $4 for kids ages 6-12; at the door, tickets are $18 and $5, respectively.

The show runs from noon until 10 p.m. Feb. 25, 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Feb. 26 and from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Feb. 27.

For more information, visit www.autorama.com and select the Detroit show from the lineup.

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