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 Murray Pfaff, of Royal Oak, will show FireMaker, a 1956 Cadillac that he has owned for 29 years, at Autorama Feb. 28-March 1.

Murray Pfaff, of Royal Oak, will show FireMaker, a 1956 Cadillac that he has owned for 29 years, at Autorama Feb. 28-March 1.

Photo provided by Murray Pfaff


Royal Oak residents getting revved up for Autorama

By: Kristyne E. Demske, Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 26, 2020

 Bob Millard, of Royal Oak, will show his 1976 Chevrolet Malibu wagon at Autorama Feb. 28-March 1.

Bob Millard, of Royal Oak, will show his 1976 Chevrolet Malibu wagon at Autorama Feb. 28-March 1.

Photo provided by Bob Millard

 Murray Pfaff, of Royal Oak, will debut Outkast, a 2020 Jeep Gladiator, at Autorama Feb. 28-March 1.

Murray Pfaff, of Royal Oak, will debut Outkast, a 2020 Jeep Gladiator, at Autorama Feb. 28-March 1.

Photo provided by Murray Pfaff

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ROYAL OAK — Looking for movie stars, both human and vehicle?

With a chance to see the Ford GT40 and the P330 Ferrari used in the Oscar-winning “Ford v Ferrari”; Cody Walker, from “Furious 7”; wrestling legend Ric Flair; and more than 800 of the best and most outrageous custom hot rods, cars, trucks and motorcycles from across the country and around the world, the 68th annual Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama has something for every enthusiast.

This year, the show will highlight the most significant hot rods of the 20th century, a group of five vehicles that have never been seen together at one time on this side of the country: Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Outlaw and Beatnik Bandit, Tommy Ivo’s 1925 T Bucket, Bob McGee’s 1932 Ford Roadster, and Norm Grabowski’s Kookie T Bucket, which cruised into fame on the TV show “77 Sunset Strip.”

“We’ve been doing the show since 1953,” said Butch Patrico, the co-chair of Autorama for the past 30 years and president of the Michigan Hot Rod Association. “It’s one of the most prestigious hot rod and custom car shows in the country.”

The 2020 Autorama will be held at the TCF Center, 1 Washington Blvd., from noon to 10 p.m. Feb. 28, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 29 and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 1.

Patrico said the show is always fresh, since exhibitors can only show a car three times at Autorama before they have to change something on the vehicle.

Along with awards and celebrity sightings, the 68th annual Detroit Autorama will include the Cavalcade of Customs, a 10-car exhibit of specially invited custom vehicles, and Autorama Extreme, which covers the entire lower level of the TCF Center with more than 200 traditional hot rods, customs and “bobber bikes” inspired by the 1950s.

Tickets for the 2020 Detroit Autorama cost $21 for adults, $8 for children ages 6-12, and they are free for children ages 5 and younger at the gate. Discount tickets are available at O’Reilly Auto Parts for $19 and $7, respectively. For more information, visit www.autorama.com or call (248) 373-1700.

 

‘It’s such a weird, cool car’
Bob Millard, of Royal Oak, has owned many cars over the years, including his current 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle convertible and Chevrolet Camaro. But none garner as much attention as the vehicle he will show at Autorama this year: a 1976 Chevrolet Malibu wagon.

While Millard has been a faithful attendee of Autorama, this will be the first time he will display a vehicle. He purchased the Malibu two years ago and did some repairs, including repainting the top, redoing the interior and replacing the tires.

What separates Millard’s wagon from the rest is its bright green color, as well as the woodgrain detailing that, if you look closely, is actually an elaborate paint job. Millard estimated that whoever had the woodgrain airbrushed onto the vehicle likely spent a lot of money on the job.

“It’s such a weird, cool car. It’s hard to explain,” Millard said. “It’s from Arizona, and there were 90,000 miles on it when I got it. It’s just a really clean, weird car.”

Millard purchased the wagon from a local seller on Craigslist who had the vehicle brought to Michigan.

“I ended up buying it and fixing it,” he said. “I didn’t even like it that much when I bought it, but my wife talked me into it, and now we take it all over in the summer.”

While Malibu wagons aren’t typically sought after or worth much money, Millard said that whoever owned the car must have loved it, because they put a lot of work into it.

“Back then, they weren’t worth anything. People would use them as derby cars and smashed them up,” he said. “But now, even if it’s not cruise time, people on Facebook send me pictures of my car on the road that were posted to other car groups.”

 

The D Lot returns
Now in its eighth year, the D Lot will return to Autorama. Royal Oak resident Murray Pfaff, of Pfaff Designs, and his team develop and host the 7,300-square-foot space that showcases cars and new products, raises money for charity, and gives away prizes.

New this year, Make-A-Wish Michigan will be the beneficiary of the “pick-a-prize” raffle proceeds. Over the years, the D Lot has raised more than $50,000 for charities and given away more than $160,000 in prizes.

This year, the D Lot will showcase nine cars, including two of Pfaff’s own: FireMaker, a 1956 Cadillac that Pfaff has owned for 29 years; and a customized 2020 Jeep Gladiator that will make its debut.

“I call it Outkast, because I’m challenging the conventional way to enjoy a Jeep,” Pfaff said. “I’m lowering it to the ground, putting on new tires, supercharging it and putting big brakes on it, so it goes fast around corners on beautiful country roads.”

Pfaff said he enjoys Autorama not only because of the cars, but also for the camaraderie between car enthusiasts.

“When I first moved to Royal Oak just over 20 years ago from the West Coast, the only person I talked to (at Autorama) was the person I bought a hot dog from,” he said. “Now, if we’re going to leave, my wife gives me a half hour to get to the door (to say my goodbyes). It’s such a cool community.”

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