Autorama usually features over 500 hot rods, customs, trucks and motorcycles from across America and the world, but the event was canceled this year. Kevin Dombrowski, of Shelby Township, had planned to show his 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe.

Autorama usually features over 500 hot rods, customs, trucks and motorcycles from across America and the world, but the event was canceled this year. Kevin Dombrowski, of Shelby Township, had planned to show his 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe.

Photo provided by Amber Joseph


Local hot rod Enthusiast reflects on car history; Autorama canceled

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 29, 2021

 Dombrowski plans to show his 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe at Autorama next year in memory of his father.

Dombrowski plans to show his 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe at Autorama next year in memory of his father.

Photo provided by Amber Joseph

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The 69th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama was planned to take place at the TCF Center in Detroit April 30-May 2 and feature many vehicles and their owners, including a couple of Shelby Township residents and their vehicles, but Autorama was canceled April 20 due to COVID-19 until next year.

The producer of the show and president and owner of Championship Auto Shows Inc., Peter Toundas, said that as the event dates drew near, organizers had mounting concerns specific to the sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Our greatest wish is that the COVID-19 numbers would begin to trend downward, but this is not the case,” Toundas said. “We sense and comprehend the level of discomfort on everyone’s part in bringing a large quantity of people into TCF Center under these circumstances. We are an entertainment venue. As such, we want our audience to be able to relax and enjoy their hobby. With the very tight controls that will be necessary, we are concerned that the experience will be significantly diminished.”

Autorama usually features more than 500 hot rods, customs, trucks and motorcycles from across America and the world, and the competition for the highest honor in hot rodding, the Ridler Award.

Kevin Dombrowski, of Shelby Township, had planned to show his vehicle at Autorama to try to win an award.

Dombrowski planned to show his 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe in memory of his father, Anthony Dombrowski.

Kevin Dombrowski’s father had a similar ’47 Ford, but unfortunately, he died at only 34 years of age back in 1981. Many of Kevin Dombrowski’s memories of his father involve working on that car with him.

“I was only 7 at the time, but was able to talk my mom into keeping his car. It was in rough shape, but I did what I could to work on it when I was old enough,” he said.

After many years and many obstacles, he ended up taking the car to a restoration shop to have them finish it.

“They were helpful and understood the situation and warned me upfront about the costs. The guy who ran the shop started having health and family issues, which postponed the completion of my father’s car. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer in January 2019 and died that March. This was difficult because my car was in his shop, he was a great guy and the last thing his widow needed was me calling about my car,” he said.

Fortunately, she contacted him, and he was able to get the car back, but now he had a car in pieces.

“I contacted other restoration shops to finish the car, but no one was interested in picking up a project someone else started. It was not cost-effective to start at the beginning again. I was heartbroken. I made the very difficult decision to cut my losses. Shortly after that I found the car I now have,” he said.

It was everything he had always wanted.

“The car I now have is an old-school hot rod custom built in Southern California. It is powered by a first-generation 322 cubic inch Buick Nailhead, it is lowered with a disc brake setup on the front. Other than the motor and braking system it maintains the original feel with the three on the tree shifter and a Columbia two-speed rear end,” he said.

Like the car his father had, he named his car “The Mistress.”

He said he definitely plans to enter Autorama in 2022.

Karen, his wife, said she really enjoys the 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Coupe and the connection that it brings her husband to his father.

She said they often drive it around and make a day of it.

“I really enjoy the car. My favorite thing is when we do car shows that are on the other side of the state. When we travel with the car, we usually stay off the main highways and take the side roads and go through the little towns. We stop for lunch and get to enjoy the beautiful countryside and the rolling hills and cornfields. The car is such a nice tribute to Kevin’s dad.”

Karen said she is looking forward to going to Autorama next year with the vehicle.

“I have been going to the Autorama since the 80s as a spectator when I was in high school. Looking forward to being an exhibitor and a new experience,” she said.

Kevin said he and his own son have made memories of their own working on the car.

“My son and I are making our own memories with this car, and I hope someday he will look back fondly like I do,” he said.

For more information on Autorama, visit www.autorama.com or call (248) 373-1700.

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