Labor of love

Autorama ready to rev up dreams and memories

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published March 2, 2015

 Richard Davisson said he bought this 1976 Spider in Georgia about seven years ago. An on-and-off restoration project made it a thing of beauty in “viper yellow.” — Photo by Erin Sanchez

Richard Davisson said he bought this 1976 Spider in Georgia about seven years ago. An on-and-off restoration project made it a thing of beauty in “viper yellow.” — Photo by Erin Sanchez

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WARREN — They’re like gems hidden in garages across the city, waiting to shimmer and shine.

Beating the first blossoms of spring by a few weeks, the show cars of Autorama emerge each year in beautiful splashes of color, adored by those drawn to their fine details like the bees that flit to flowers pushed through thawed earth to be kissed by the sun.

But unlike the flowers, their motors conjure memories of buffed paint and polished chrome; of glorious, rumbling engines; of warm days spent taking snapshots of your dad’s Monte Carlo with an old Polaroid. Suddenly, it’s 1977 again.

You get the picture?

Paul Dulock, of Warren, found what he thought was a 1970 Camaro Rally Sport on the Internet 13 years ago. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he agreed to buy it sight-unseen for $2,200, including shipping, so he already had plans to recoup his cash by selling the tough-to-find front end if he didn’t like the car.

“I bought it out of Oklahoma City, brought it home and started working on it,” Dulock said. “I found out it was a Super Sport car, with a big block in it.”

Well, the mounts for a rare, 396 big-block muscle car motor were there, anyway. There was no engine and the transmission shipped home in the trunk.

“Somebody just tore it apart, probably blew the motor out,” Dulock said. “It was a rolling shell.”

But it was definitely salvageable. He said 90 percent of the body was original sheet metal. Years of work followed. A new big-block motor was built.

This will be Dulock’s third year at Autorama with his “silver ice” 1970 Camaro.

“I wanted it because it was a Rally Sport model, and I found out it was a Super Sport model when I got it home,” Dulock said. “I was very happy, and disappointed that somebody tore it apart. They’re a labor of love.”

Like Dulock, Richard Davisson, of Warren, appreciates the classic muscle cars that rolled down Detroit’s assembly lines in the ’60s and ’70s. But he found his passion going in a different direction when he fell in love with his first Alfa Romeo.

“My first new car out of college was a 124 Spider in 1977,” Davisson said. “I had that for a few years and then life intervened. I ended up getting married, ended up in Florida for a while, and my wife encouraged me to get another one.”

Davisson now owns BradCo Restorations, part of Elesco Industries Inc. in Warren. His business has transitioned over the years from producing molded rubber products for the automakers and the military to include third-party quality inspections and restoration work.

BradCo’s projects are also a labor of love for Davisson. The shop’s reputation for restoring mostly late-1960s to mid-1970s Alfa Romeos is growing. He’ll bring two to the 2015 Detroit Autorama: a 1976 Spider in viper yellow, and a 1973 Alfa GTV in red.

“As an engineer, I’m intrigued by them, love them, because of their engineering details,” Davisson said. “It’s just a really well-thought-out machine. Production-wise, I think they’re one of the most beautiful production cars of that era.”

For the full skinny on Dulock’s Camaro, Davisson’s Alfa Romeos and hundreds of other hot rods and custom cars from garages in Warren and beyond, visit the 63rd annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama.

The show runs from noon-10 p.m. March 6, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. March 7 and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. March 8. Autorama is produced by Championship Auto Shows Inc. and by the Michigan Hot Rod Association. General admission is $19, children 6-12 years old attend for $6, and children 5 and younger get in for free. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts.

For more information, go to www.autorama.com or call (248) 373-1700.

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