Locals to show dragster, all-original Challenger at Autorama

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 10, 2016


SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — The 64th annual Autorama, a custom car and hot rod show, will return Friday, Feb. 26, through Sunday, Feb. 28, with a fresh lineup of more than 800 vehicles and celebrity entertainers at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Five residents of Shelby Township and Utica will display their vehicles, including a 1965 front-engine dragster restored by the original owner’s son, and an all-original 1970 Dodge Challenger owned by a member of the Utica City Council.

Marty Posluszny, a certified mechanic and resident of Utica for the last 50 years, will show a white dragster that is almost identical to the vehicle that his father raced and showed at the 14th annual Autorama.

“I remember it. I was only 4 years old then, but I remember the Autorama and him racing,” Posluszny said.

He said his father named both vehicles The Grunt, but that he did not know why. The first of his father’s cars, he said, was called The Mischief for his brother, and then after that they were all named The Grunt.

Posluszny said his father began working on the chassis and then passed away in February 2008, so Posluszny picked up where his father left off. Posluszny custom-made many components and incorporated original parts where he could.

“Al Berger did the body for me. It’s handmade, all aluminum, and he tried to make it as original as it was,” he said.

Although his father raced cars, Posluszny said he preferred the restoration process.

“I sat in it, and it’s scary enough,” he said. “It looks brand new. Everything shines.”

Utica Mayor Pro Tem Kenneth Sikora will display his black 1970 Dodge Challenger with an all-white interior. He said he was in a car club with the second owner of the vehicle and that he is its third owner.

“It has 20,000 original miles on it, and it’s an all-original car,” Sikora said. “All I’ve done to it is restore it back to its original condition. It’s a rare car — a beautiful car.”

Sikora said he owns two other street rods — a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner and a 1974 Plymouth Duster — but it is the Challenger that makes people “ooh and aah.”

“I’ve enjoyed cars my whole life,” he said. “After I got all my kids through braces, I could finally afford to have one, so I started with the Road Runner, and the Challenger is my second car.”

Linda Ashley, spokeswoman for Autorama, said hundreds of custom car owners vie for the Ridler Award, which is given to the first-time-shown best-in-show vehicle. For the first time this year, she said a car will be shipped from Australia to compete.

One of the show’s highlights, she said, would be the return of a live rock ‘n’ roll concert at 7 p.m. Saturday night. History Channel star Danny “The Count” Koker will perform with his band, Count’s 77.

“This is the first time (a rock concert has) happened in dozens and dozens of years,” Ashley said.

Other features include a live burnout and wheelstand to kick off the show in front of Cobo Center at 11:45 a.m. Friday; a Concept Cars of the Past exhibit; a pin-up girl contest; as well as celebrity appearances from the Disney, Discovery and History channels, and World Wrestling Entertainment.

The show will run 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, 1 Washington Blvd. in Detroit. General admission costs $19; children 6-12 years old will be admitted for $6, and children 5 and younger get in free. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts.

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