Autorama will roar into Cobo Center

By: Mary Beth Almond, Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published February 9, 2016


Royal Oak resident Jarod MacNeill, 40, was always obsessed with hot rods.

His nickname is J-rod, and his father called him “hot rod.”

“It’s all I liked,” he said of hot rods.

MacNeill owns and operates The Hot Rod Shop in Troy and plans to bring his 1986 Buick Grand National and silver 1992 Camaro to this year’s Autorama.

“I’ve owned the Camaro for 22 years,” he said, adding that he’s driven it on the Hot Rod Power Tour across the country with his son Deacon, 7, since 2011. His daughter Ava Grace, 11, also accompanied them one year.

MacNeill purchased the Camaro when it was two years old. He recently purchased the Buick, which he said he’s wanted since he was a teenager.

“It’s total stock, not modified in any way,” he said of the Buick. He last entered Autorama in 2003 with a custom motorcycle.

MacNeill said he also owns a 1984 Monte Carlo SS, which was the first car he ever bought. He said he’s very busy this time of year with his son and daughter with their sports activities, but he decided to make time to go to the show this year. He said Chris Homrich, of Hamlin Collision Center in Rochester Hills, did the bodywork and paint on both of his Autorama entries, and Diamond Hugo, of Diamond Fabrication, in Warren, did the turbo fabrication on the Camaro.

Homrich, who lives in Troy, said MacNeill talked him into putting his 2006 two-door Pontiac GTO, which he purchased about four years ago and customized, into the show.

“It’s just kind of a joint venture to go down there and put both of our cars in the show,” he said.

While Homrich said lots of people have Mustangs and Corvettes, he was drawn to the Pontiac GTO because he feels it is unique.

“Even though it is a General Motors car, they built them in Australia. They are just unique. … I just wanted something different than what you normally see on the road,” he said.

Homrich custom painted his GTO matte white with a glossy black roof and black accents. He said he basically “gutted the car down to pretty much nothing,” and put it back together, working on the motor, installing a new fuel system and more, in his Rochester Hills shop.

“It’s been about a year, year and a half venture,” he said.

One of the things that makes the car unique, according to Homrich, is it’s LS2 V-8 engine with a Procharger supercharger.

“It’s 800-plus horsepower … so it’s a little bit unique, as far as the power that it makes, to drive it on the street,” he said. “I always get comments about how loud it is, because when you are making that kind of power, it obviously makes a little bit of noise. It’s a lot of fun to drive.”

The 64th Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama will be held at Cobo Center in Detroit Feb. 26-28. Over 800 hot rods, custom cars, trucks and motorcycles from across the country will be on display.

The first Detroit Autorama took place at the University of Detroit Field House as a fundraiser for the Michigan Hot Rod Association's efforts to build the Detroit Dragway. Over the years it moved to the Michigan State Fairgrounds and the Detroit Artillery Armory before coming to Cobo Center as its first paid public show in 1961.

“We are delighted to bring live music back to the main stage at Autorama with Danny ‘The Count’ Koker. This is a unique opportunity to combine the world of rock and roll and car culture via one of the most popular car culture TV stars. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime Autorama experience,” Peter A. Toundas, president of Championship Auto Shows and show manager, said in a prepared statement. “We are always striving to bring new excitement to Autorama along with the most spectacular showing of performance cars anywhere in the country. We know our show-goers will love this year’s amazing Autorama.”

Autorama will start with live burnout and wheel stand demonstration by the Farmtruck and AZN’s vehicles from Discovery TV’s “Street Outlaws” at 11:45 a.m. Friday, Feb. 26, at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, in front of Cobo Center.

A highlight of the show is the presentation of the Ridler Award, presented 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.

The Motor City Mavens 2016 Auto Art Panel Jam and Charity Auction benefiting Leader Dogs for the Blind will be presented by 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. They will demonstrate for the crowds and auction the items throughout the event, with all proceeds going to Leader Dogs for the Blind.

These special guest will meet and greet visitors and sign autographs:

• Farmtruck and AZN, from Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws” noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 26.

• Olivia Holt, “Lindsay Watson,” from Disney’s TV show “I Didn’t Do It,” 1-3 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Feb. 27.

• Horny Mike, from History Channel’s “Counting Cars” TV show, 1-4 p.m. Feb. 28.

• Daniel Bryan, of World Wrestling Entertainment, 1-4 p.m. Feb. 28.

Linda Ashley, spokeswoman for Autorama, said cars are being shipped in from Australia to compete.

“I don’t believe we’ve ever had a car from Australia,” she said.

She added that some cars are coming from California and Europe.

“One of the things that’s very different is that we are having a rock concert, the first time it’s happened in dozens of years,” Ashley said.

Autorama will be held noon-10 p.m. Feb. 26, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Feb. 27 and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Feb. 28 at Cobo Center.

Autorama costs $19 for adults, $6 for children 6 to 12, and is free for children under 5 at the gate. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts. For more information and celebrity appearance details, call (248) 373-1700 or go to