Bill Gill drives his red, 1966 Shelby AC Cobra several thousand miles each year.

Bill Gill drives his red, 1966 Shelby AC Cobra several thousand miles each year.

Photo provided by Bill Gill

Autorama roars into Cobo Center

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 21, 2018

 Bill Gill, a retired mechanic, works on his project cars for more than 12 hours a day.

Bill Gill, a retired mechanic, works on his project cars for more than 12 hours a day.

Photo provided by Bill Gill

Troy resident Bill Gill, a former mechanic and an airplane pilot, now retired, works on his project cars no less than 12-14 hours a day. 

He’s driven his red 1966 Shelby AC Cobra during the Woodward Dream Cruise, and now he plans to bring it to Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama.

 Gill works on one car at a time and is currently restoring a Rambler American convertible. 

Gill, 76,  finished the Cobra in 1981. 

“I drive the car several thousand miles a year,” he said. He’s raced cars at the Detroit Dragway, the Motor City Dragway and the Ubly Dragway. 

Gill said he has taken project cars to Autorama before — a 1955 Ford Thunderbird race car in 1990 and a 1955 Ford Thunderbird in 1985.  

The 66th Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama will be held at Cobo Center in Detroit March 2-4. Over 800 hot rods, custom cars, trucks and motorcycles from across the country will be on display.

“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,” Peter A. Toundas, president and owner of Championship Auto Shows Inc., which produces Autorama, said in a prepared statement. 

“It’s extremely gratifying that Detroit Autorama is the home of America’s most important hot rod award,” Toundas said in the statement. “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.”

A highlight of the show is the presentation of the Ridler Award, given to the most outstanding new custom car shown for the first time anywhere.

The award was named after Don Ridler, the first promoter of the show. 

This year’s Autorama features a special exhibit of five of the land speed record-breaking speedsters that have run on the famous Bonneville Salt Flats, including the 2017 record-breaking gold Speed Demon. In 2017, Speed Demon claimed the Speed Week trophy for the seventh consecutive year with an astounding 438.643 mph pass on the Salt Flats.

Autorama will kick off with the live outdoor Rolling Towering Inferno Flame Throwing Fest, in which two cars and a super truck will shoot flames at 11:45 a.m. March 2 in front of Cobo Center, on Jefferson Avenue. 

 The Motor City Mavens’ 2018 Auto Art Panel Jam and Charity Auction, benefiting Leader Dogs for the Blind, will be presented by 101 FM WRIF Radio. More than 200 pinstripers from across the country will be in Detroit during all three days of Autorama to apply their artistry to items of every type. 

Autorama will be held noon-10 p.m. March 2, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. March 3 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 4 at Cobo Center. Autorama is hosted by the Michigan Hot Rod Association.

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