A Ford Mustang finds a place to park in Mustang Alley along Nine Mile Road in Ferndale Aug. 21 during the 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise.

A Ford Mustang finds a place to park in Mustang Alley along Nine Mile Road in Ferndale Aug. 21 during the 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes


Woodward Dream Cruise makes big return in downtown Ferndale

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 21, 2021

 Ford Mustangs rule the road in Ferndale during the 2021 Dream Cruise.

Ford Mustangs rule the road in Ferndale during the 2021 Dream Cruise.

 Mustangs on display along Nine Mile Road give Woodward Dream Cruise attendees an up-close look under the hood.

Mustangs on display along Nine Mile Road give Woodward Dream Cruise attendees an up-close look under the hood.

 Many Ford Mustangs are on display in the Luxury Lanes parking lot during the Dream Cruise. Parking lots all along Nine Mile were full of Mustangs.

Many Ford Mustangs are on display in the Luxury Lanes parking lot during the Dream Cruise. Parking lots all along Nine Mile were full of Mustangs.

Advertisement

FERNDALE — The Woodward Dream Cruise made its official return on Saturday, Aug. 21, and thousands of people poured into downtown Ferndale to mark the occasion.

With many residents, Michiganders and those who came in from out of state, the streets of Ferndale were packed for the Dream Cruise and one of its big staples, the 22nd annual Ford Mustang Alley. It was the event’s big return after the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation in 2020.

More than 650 Mustangs from the ’60s to the contemporary models of today parked on East and West Nine Mile roads for onlookers to enjoy. Brian Austin, of Sterling Heights, brought his 1988 Ford Mustang LX coupe that he’s owned for 23 years to the alley.

The Mustang brings a nostalgic feeling to Austin, which is why he wanted to buy it in the first place.

“That’s the Mustang that was out when I was in high school, and I knew they made a good drag car, so that’s what I was trying to build,” he said. “It took me a year after I bought it to back out of the garage under its own power with a new motor, transmission, rear end.”

When Austin bought the coupe, it was a shell of its former self. He paid $1,100 for a four-cylinder vehicle that had less than 100 horsepower and 158,000 miles on it. Austin has worked on the car in the years since, building it up from when it was an “ugly duckling” to something brand-new that has more than 500 horsepower.

“I’ve always liked that style of Mustang,” he said. “The Mustang before this one, it was pretty ugly, and then they made this model and I just fell in love with it.”

Paul Birchall, of Fowlerville, and his 2004 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra also found their way to the alley. Birchall, a former employee at Ford, bought the car brand-new 17 years ago.

“I’ve always liked them,” he said. “I was 11 years old when they came out in ’64, and I’ve always liked them.”

An owner of seven Mustangs during his lifetime, Birchall only brings the car out during the summertime. He puts about 1,000 miles on the vehicle a year since he’s owned it, totaling 17,000 miles.

“I like the style,” he said of his ride. “I like the way it drives. It’s fun to drive. I don’t like big cars; it’s a smaller car, it handles really nice. A lot of people don’t think Mustangs handle well, but on the street it handles very, very well.”

While the Dream Cruise has brought many car owners back year after year to show off their rides in both Mustang Alley and on Woodward Avenue, Matt Earnest was in Ferndale for his first-ever cruise.

A native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Earnest was in town with his wife, Loretta, to visit his son, Marshall, who graduated from the University of Michigan more than a year ago and was working at Ford.

“It was something he said we might enjoy, and we do,” Earnest said.

Earnest’s son brought his own rebuilt 1966 Mustang to the alley. Taking a leave from Nine Mile, the family made its way to the median of Woodward Avenue to view the cars driving down the roadway.

“We’ve not seen anything like this in Oklahoma, and the amount of cars, the variety of cars, the condition of the cars, the people, the restaurants — it’s all been good,” he said.

Advertisement