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Gearheads rejoice: Autorama is back

By: Eric Czarnik | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 16, 2011

 Tom Brown of West Bloomfield owns this 1956 Chevrolet Corvette, an upgraded “retro mod.”

Tom Brown of West Bloomfield owns this 1956 Chevrolet Corvette, an upgraded “retro mod.”

Photo provided by Tom Brown

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Classic cars will be moving from their garages to the showroom as the 59th Annual Meguiar’s Autorama gets into gear Feb. 25-27.

The event, which takes place at Cobo Center, plans to show off more than 1,000 exhibits of custom and classic vehicles.

Tom Brown of West Bloomfield is excited to bring his black and silver 1956 Chevrolet Corvette to the big event. He said he bought his Corvette on eBay about 10 or 11 years ago, and then he had it rebuilt.

“I had a picture of a ‘56 Corvette on my workbench bulletin board,” he said. “I’ve kind of always been lusting after that car. I had money, and there was a minute left (on the auction). I just pulled the trigger.”

Earl Brown of Commerce Township, no relation, spent years rebuilding Tom’s Corvette and said he finished it in 2009. He explained that the vehicle is an upgraded “retro mod.”

“It’s a newer frame, and it has a ‘94 Corvette suspension,” he said.

Other local gearheads described their enjoyment out of reassembling their favorite models. Mark Kent of Commerce Township said he has owned a 1970 Dodge Super Bee since the late ‘80s.

He said the vehicle was ready to be sold to Madonna’s little brother, but the deal fell through, and Kent’s father expressed an interest in buying it.

“I drove the car for 10 years, put a couple different engines in it, raced it, and then I took it apart,” he said.

Although Kent, 44, said he completely disassembled “every nut and bolt” of his Super Bee at one point, he has since restored and refurbished it. He also said he painted it a sapphire blue that looks purple in the sunlight.

“I tried to redo it in a way that would look like a restored muscle car, but still have the maximum performance at the drag strip,” he said.

Today, Kent teaches auto shop at Fordson High School in Dearborn. He called his vehicle’s Autorama showcase a dream that he has had since junior high.

“It’s one of the premier hot rod car shows in the world,” he said.

The 59th Annual Meguiar’s Autorama will last from Feb. 25-27 at Cobo Center, 1 Washington Boulevard, in Detroit. Admission is $18 adults, $5 children ages 6-12 and free for children 5 and under. Discounted tickets can be found at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. To learn more, visit www.autorama.com or call (248) 373-1700.

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