Buying classic cars and hot rods

My friend Steve, from Santa Clarita, California, has met me two years in a row at the Woodward Dream Cruise, in Detroit, Michigan. This year he mentioned that he would love to get a classic car. While we drove endless hours on Woodward, during the cruise, we saw a lot of cars we’d like to have. We had fun pointing out various cars we had owned over the years, but never kept. But, it wasn’t till the last day that Steve announced that he’d like to get a ’58 Chevy convertible. Nice choice.

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The most popular Chevy classics seem to be ’55, ’56, and ’57 model years, the ’57 being the most iconoclastic of the ‘50s Chevys. The ’58 Chevy design had an abrupt end to straight up fin in favor of a rounded fin-like design. It was a heavier car than the ‘57, which did not do as well when designing for speed, but it was a classy car.

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All this got me thinking about where you could go to buy a ’58 Chevrolet? Where would you even start? Well, it turns out that there are many listing sources for classic car and hot rod buffs looking for a car. But how can you tell if the price is right? There are many things that go into the pricing; the body condition, the engine and powertrain, the miles, even the type of restoration can affect price (like ‘off-frame’ vs not ‘off frame’).

For the condition of the entire car for appraisal purposes, essentially think in terms of a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest and most expensive. 1-2 would be cars that are for parts only. 3-5 cars are restorable cars. 6-8 are cars that are not perfect, but perfect for driving around a lot. 9-10 cars are show cars that are in competition a lot, but cars that you don’t drive a lot.

I’ll lay odds that Steve wants a classic car in the 5-6 range so he can fix them up to an 8. Well, there are all kinds of classic cars that are available from all kinds of sources like; magazines, websites, Google, car lots, individuals, auctions and even signs in the windows of cars.

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There are many magazines around with classic cars for sale, most free, but some you have to buy that are in the supermarkets –convenient stores – book store magazine racks – part stores – truck stops, etc. It’s also where you can find other cool mags on classic cars and hot rods. Hemmings is an insurance company for classic cars, but they also have a magazine sales directory for classic cars (www.hemmings.com). The free magazines are usually in the front of supermarkets, restaurants, and various places where there are other free magazines displayed. Don’t forget local classic car magazines that cater to local people going to cruise-ins, like Cruz’news (http://cruisnews.com/) in the Detroit area, or Cruisin’ times (www.cruisintimes.com) in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Try Google to find a mag like these near you.

To find classic cars and hot rods at a car lot, you need to find these on the Internet. Many of these lots are in states far from where you live, unless you’re lucky enough to have one near you. Some only deal in perfect show quality cars and you will pay big $$$ for these. But, if you want to buy a perfect car, these are not bad.

One of the largest classic car lots is Gateway Classic Cars, with stores in St. Louis, Louisville, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Tampa, and Orlando. You can cruise through their listings at; http://gatewayclassiccars.com/.

On the Internet, there is a wealth of sources for classic cars, like http://www.classiccars.com. Google is the obvious first choice because you can just type in the name of the car and year and, bam, on your screen are multiple lists for that car and many are on sale through sites like; eBay, Craig’s list, Hemmings and many others just happen to have the car you’re looking for. I Googled ’58 Chevy and sure enough there were bunches of cars, especially on eBay where I found 8 ranging in price from $9999 to $93000. Be very careful of scams. In a previous article about buying my son a car, I outline how some of these scams work, especially on Craig’s List.

Here’s a video someone made at a classic car show of a red ’58 Chevy Impala convertible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9tlB0FIBLw

Auctions for classic cars have become very popular, especially those TV classic car auctions like; Barrett-Jackson (www.barrett-jackson.com), and Mecum auctions (www.mecum.com/auctions.cfn). There are other auctions not on the internet like the Shane Albright auctions in Northern Alabama and mid-Tennessee. They have a lot of classic cars in various condition that are going for auction on Sept. 27, 2014. They even have a bunch of ‘58 Chevys listed. They do have a website to see the listing of cars at www.shanealbright.com.

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You can always go to a cruise-in and find cars for sale. I have found that just about every city, town and community has some kind of cruise-in going on at an old drive-in restaurant, a diner, a drag strip, a local fair, a sports bar, an auto performance based business, or even just a parking lot that everyone gathers at on certain days. Look for a ‘for sale’ sign in the car window and if you end up not buying it, no biggie; you’ve had a nice conversation about the, ‘Dream Machine,’ with the owner.

This sales list of classic car and hot rod sources is by no means complete. If you Google classic cars and hot rods, you will come across an enormous availability of these cars, in all sorts of locations. I wish you luck in your search for your perfect, ‘Dream Machine.’

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The ‘Dream Machines’ Car Club in Illinois

I saw this article and I think it deserves a ‘guest post’ on my blog. It’s just about a local cruise in Illinois, but the car club calls itself the ‘Dream Machines’ car club, which sounds great to me. I don’t know why, but they didn’t include pictures. I always include pictures. Sorry, but it’s a good look at the latest craze in America; classic cars and hot rods. That’s why I hope they enjoy my novel, Dream Machines. Enjoy.

This cool cruise info is from: http://www.mywebtimes.com/news/editorial/our-view-in-streator-cruise-night-is-king/article_984c9141-062c-50c4-8830-5606c4267d12.html

 

It’s Labor Day weekend in the Illinois Valley, and that means it’s time for one thing — the Dream Machines Car Club Streator Car Show and Cruise Night.

Sure, there are other events going on — notably in Toluca, Paw Paw, Mendota and Pontiac, some of those celebrations with more than six decades of history — but today’s Cruise Night celebration is the undisputed king.

If there was any doubt about which event wears the crown, last year put it to rest. After a threat of rain abated, Dream Machines Vice President Mike Starjack said more than 500 vehicles took part. He also told The Times between 15,000 and 20,000 people came out to see the vintage cars. Those numbers are on pace with 2010, the last year where Cruise Night coincided with great weather, which drew 545 cars and at least 20,000 spectators.

That’s a two with four zeroes — a larger number than the population of any single town in La Salle County.

Some taverns and restaurants point to Cruise Night as their biggest of the year in terms of traffic and revenue. Cars come in from several states. Perhaps not every hotel room in town is booked, but clearly Cruise NIght has a social and economic impact. It’s no wonder the organizers of the Streator Tenderloin Festival chose Labor Day weekend — they knew when it made the most sense to tap in to a huge number of visitors.

Cruise nights are common throughout the region, so what’s the big deal in Streator? Anyone can have a car show. In Streator, the real attraction is the cruising: getting those vintage vehicles out on the road, slowly going up and down the main streets, listening to classic music and restoring — if only for one night — some magic memories of the past.

In many ways, Streator is a perfect backdrop. Many families have called the town home for generations. The people are proud of the town’s work ethic, and nothing says “elbow grease” like getting under the hood of your classic auto and turning a wrench yourself. Anyone with money can buy an old car. But only someone with passion, skill and dedication can restore it to glory.

The physical scenery itself helps, as Streator itself has a classic look. Not much of town is ultra-modern, and that’s the way many folks like it. Streator looks and feels like home, and these classic cars and their owners fit right in. Cruise Night hearkens back to the days when the Roamer — America’s answer to the Rolls Royce — was built in Streator.

It seems almost preposterous now to think America’s leading luxury car could be built in a small town in the middle of Illinois. But that’s the way things worked in the early 1900s, and Cruise Night and the Dream Machines Car Club help us all tap into that nostalgia.

The cruise route is from Main Street to Park Street to Kent Street to Vermillion Street to Hickory Street to Shabbona Street and back to Main. Members of the Dream Machines Club are selling tickets all day for the choice of a restored 1975 Plymouth Duster or $5,000 in cash.

The people who continue make Labor Day weekend special in Streator every year deserve praise for their efforts. It’s a labor of love for sure, and the beneficiaries are numerous. Hats off to everyone involved. The months of planning and preparation are complete. Tonight, the party begins. Live it up, step back in time and enjoy one of the greatest weekends of the year.

 

Jimmy Shine and the Grand Rapids, MI, Metro Cruise 2014

I was so tired when I got back home from the Woodward Dream Cruise; I seriously over-slept to noon the next day. The Dream Cruise was three days of intense cruising and checking out over 40,000 classic cars, hot rods and big exhibits by Ford, Chrysler and GM. So when I heard the news that Jimmy Shine would be at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Metro Cruise the coming weekend, it gave me enough energy to make the 5 hour drive west on the Ohio Turnpike to Indiana, then turned north to GR on a Friday afternoon.

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In case you never heard of Jimmy Shine, he started out with the now famous, ‘SoCal Speed Shops,’ which are garages where they restore or modify classic cars and make a lot of cars go…faster. Jimmy is the kind of guy that can take a beat up old 1950s (or any year) car and with his own two hands, turn it into a stunning show car that has power and looks to win trophies and races. That is talent.

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Jimmy is also the host and/or guest on many classic car shows that offer classic cars and restoration projects as subject matter. Those shows frequently are shown on the Velocity Network on cable. His show, ‘Car Warriors,’ pit two teams of restoration mechanics and fabricators to restore and modify in a small amount of time, two similar old cars. The teams can do whatever they want to the cars and at the end, the cars will be judged and the winner gets to take the car home.

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Jimmy is also in my novel, Dream Machines. When the two old farts realize that they can’t restore and race their cars by their self-imposed deadline, Jimmy steps in. He helps by adding two teams to work with them to get their cars ready to settle the big 50-year grudge drag race on Woodward by Friday night. The only condition is that the restoring and race will now be part of Jimmy’s show, ‘Car Warriors.’

Now, this is the kind of car I see myself in... someday.

Now, this is the kind of car I see myself in… someday.

I got to GR, dropped off my luggage at the hotel and headed down 28th street, where the Metro Cruise was. The Cruise was supposed to be on the west side of Highway 131, but miles before that, there were classic cars in parking lots with lots of people on lawn chairs checking out what’s interesting in traffic. I hope they all saw my Cruisemobile mobile billboard and ordered the book.

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After Hwy 131, there were significantly more classic cars and hot rods as well as bigger crowds. At a large shopping center, Roger’s Plaza, there was an enormous crowd, with food vendors, lots of lights and cars. This was the main staging area for the Cruise, http://www.28thstreetmetrocruise.com/, so I figured I would keep going until I found the end of the cruise area then turn around. It kept going for about a mile and a half before I turned back. Along the road, the crowds kept growing, along with a lot of side-of-the-road food vendors.

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I pulled into Roger’s Plaza and did my best to get a parking space, like all those other people roaming in their car hoping to get lucky, which I finally did. The whole scene reminded me of a carnival, only instead of amusement rides, they had cars, lots of very cool, groovy and all the other ‘60s adjectives, cars.

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I looked for Jimmy and found him immediately, signing autographs. I showed him my book and he said, ‘I have that book on my desk, but I haven’t read it yet.’ I gave him another copy (yeah, he wanted me to autograph it and he gave me his autograph) and he introduced me to his beautiful wife, Nikki, who took a picture of us. He was so nice, it was like talking to an old friend and he said that he would read the book. I told him I wanted to make the book into a movie and Nikki’s eyes lit up, like they had been talking about such a thing. Maybe he’s looking for the right book. I tried hard not to be so impressed with him, but I don’t think it worked because I probably sounded like the ‘Wayne’s World’ groupie of a rock star going, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”

Jimmy Shine and I (I'm the old guy);-)

Jimmy Shine and I (I’m the old guy);-)

The show was going to close at 9pm, or so they said, and if it was anything like the Woodward Dream Cruise, that could mean facing major traffic jams. So I headed out, knowing I would be there first thing in the morning. As I headed back to the hotel, I saw a place I had gone to many years before, the Beltline Bar; home of the famous Wet Burrito. Yeah, I stopped and had a famous ‘Burrito and Beer,’ and it was just as good as I remembered.

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I arrived Saturday morning at 9 am, when the program said it was going to start, and it sure enough; it had already started without me. Being there at what I thought was an early hour, I thought I’d be able to get a good highly visible parking place, but the place was already packed with people and cars. I saw all the cars and after-market companies then ran into Scooter, with the ‘Cruiz’news’ magazine from the Detroit area. I asked if Dana was there, but Scooter said Dana had gotten totally burned out at the Dream Cruise and was on a beach far away from any classic cars;-)

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It was nice to see a city like Grand Rapids with such a large cruise. It was a good size cruise and I could tell the crowds loved it. I left at noon because I had to get going back to Cleveland, where I had things to do later. I decided to go through Ann Arbor and head south from there so I could stop for a lunch break at one of my favorite stores; Cabela’s. This Cabela’s is huge inside with an incredible selection of outdoor gear and clothing. I just happened to need some mesquite wood nuggets for my smoker.

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I decided not to eat in their ‘wild-game’ restaurant because I saw a sign at a nearby small pub, The Great Lakes Pub & Grill, that advertised fresh Bluegill fish. I love Bluegill and they didn’t disappoint. The filets are only big enough for one bite, but oh, they are the tastiest fish, even better than Perch. I love Florida seafood, but this is great lakes fresh water seafood, and it is delicious.

Blue Gill, beans and cole slaw. I only ate the Blue Gill.

Blue Gill, beans and cole slaw. I only ate the Blue Gill.

I finally arrived back home, just in time to unload luggage, pick up my neighbor Roger, and head to downtown Cleveland to arrive just in time for the opening ceremony for the Cleveland Browns home exhibition pre-season game and Johnny Football himself; Johnny Manziel. Throughout the frustrating game for the Browns, which almost distracted me, I still kept thinking about Jimmy Shine, and all those gorgeous Dream Machines in Grand Rapids. Way to go GR!

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Mid-west classic car season begins

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This year has been harsh on mid-westerners. 6 months of winter followed by a week of spring. It is finally June, the month where you usually expect mid-80s weather with the back yard grill working overtime. We all hope that is true.

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But what is true, is that there are a number of mid-western cruise-ins scheduled in June and the weather can just be damned if it’s bad. This weekend was calm with a smattering of cruise-ins at smaller venues, like the big sports bars like, Quaker Steak & Lube. Usually their cruise-ins are just bikers, but many times they have classic cars and hot rods as well. You just have to look in a directory. What directory?

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There are many mid-western sources of cruise-ins and events with classic cars and hot rods. One is cruisin’ times magazine out of Cleveland, Ohio: http://www.cruisintimesmagazine.com. Another is Cruisenews magazine out of Detroit at: http://www.cruisnews.com.

There are a number on online lists for mid-west cruise-ins as well:

In Chicago you could go here: http://www.carcruiselist.com/.

In Columbus, Ohio go here: https://www.facebook.com/columbuscruisein.

Cincinnati car fans can go here: http://www.countrycruiser.com/cincy.htm

In Louisville, southern Indiana, go here: http://www.cruisenightcars.com/

In Pittsburgh, go here: http://www.carcruises.com/cruise_list.asp?month_select=5&state=Pennsylvania.

Indianapolis: http://www.oldcarsonly.com/page/page/187576.htm

St. Louis FB users go to: https://www.facebook.com/pages/St-Louis-Classic-Car-and-Hot-Rod-Clubs/97883669371

This online list has cruise-ins all over the country: http://www.carshowguide.com/

And this one also offers a nationwide source of various classic car and hot rod events here: http://www.carshowlist.com/

There continues to be an amazing source of cruise-ins in every town in America. Google or Bing “(Your city) classic car cruise nights” and I think you’ll find cruise-ins, auto collections, auto museums, and auto shows everywhere. That’s because America still has a love affair with their automobiles. It’s their personal ‘Dream Machine.’

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Restoration projects and metal benders.

I have been thinking about this for a good while. What makes a person restore an older car? What drives him/her? How does a normal everyday person decide to rebuild a car they saw in their childhood?

This week I ran into a quasi-relative at a first-year-old’s birthday party for my…Nephew-in-law’s son. Cliff is the child’s father’s uncle, which would make him a great uncle? I’m sure he is. Or is it…well, it doesn’t matter, I’ve played golf with Cliff for over 20 years so he’s considered, a friend, a friend that I never knew that well. I didn’t know, until now, that he is an artist…with metal.

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Cliff also told me something else that he never mentioned to me, that he rebuilt a classic ’56 Chevy B210 into a very nice lookin’ Dream Machine that has some nice power as well. The car used to have a straight 6, but now has a Chevy 350 V8 that has about 300 HP. He also mentioned that he made many parts from scratch; he’s an expert welder and bends metal to his liking.

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This I had to see. So, my kids and I rode out to Cliff’s place in the country. Way out in the country. My 17 year-old daughter, Courtney, and her twin, my son, Chase, was with me and when they saw the car as we drove into the driveway that features a four-car garage, they gasped and their eyes grew large.

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The Chevy is a gorgeous shade of orange, like an Orange Crush. Beautiful. Cliff told us that he carefully, and meticulously painted the car in his garage. I took a peak inside at the interior expecting to see floor shifter and yes, there it was, but it looked different. It was an automatic transmission. Cliff said he didn’t like shifting a lot whenever he’s in a parade or at a cruise-in.

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Cliff’s wife, Joy, invited us inside for a drink and we got surprised again. Cliff is such a good metal bender, that he makes model ships…out of stainless steal. Not small ships, large art sculptures with a lot of detail. I’ll post some pictures. Out back of his house was another surprise; a 30’ deep pond with fish and a diving board. Not a bad lifestyle.

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Cliff wanted us to see his neighbor’s project car, so we hopped in his Chevy and took a short ride with a low rumble. His friend Rocky, lives just a few houses down, but his large barn-like garage told me a lot. The garage door was open and inside was a hot rod made from a ’30 Ford. It was on a lift, but the closer you got, the better it looked. Court and Chase were mesmerized by this…work of art.

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Rocky told us that many parts on the highboy were hand made from stainless steel (I could see Cliff, had a hand in this). Rocky agreed to build the car for a guy named, Jerry Bullock, who is going to give it to his 70 year–old wife. Jerry gave Rocky plenty of money to work with so it would come out spectacular. It’s quite evident that Rocky is another artist. The paint job alone was gorgeous, which included a very detailed paint job on the engine as well. The 350 Chevy Corvette engine was ground down to smoothness so the paint could go one evenly and smoothly. Awesome. Even the bottom of the car was spectacular.

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In the back of the garage was a ’64 Pontiac GTO that needed a lot of work. Cliff mentioned that he needed a body panel so he just made it from scratch. In another room, Rocky converted it into a paint shop. Inside, under wraps, was an old Jaguar that they had just dropped an engine into, but it was a long-term project.

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Metal benders like Cliff and Rocky can turn a piece of metal into art, functional art. They built a real Dream Machine, pretty much from scratch.

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There’s an interesting article about restoring a car that is in much more detail than I can give. Check out this Dream Machine project at:  http://www.chevyhardcore.com/project-cars/project-swinger/project-swinger-the-project-build-wrap-up-for-our-71-nova-part-i/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=project-swinger-the-project-build-wrap-up-for-our-71-nova-part-i

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Rained out cruise-in

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Cruise-ins are so much fun, unless it’s rained out. Nobody shows up. No classic cars. No hot rods. Nada. Zip. Nothing. It was also a bummer.

So, this will be a short blog with some pictures I took from last year’s Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit and some pictures from last year’s Blue Suede Cruise in Norwalk, Ohio.

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While at a birthday party this weekend I talked to a few people that were relatives of a sister-in-law. They know about my book and one asked about the value of his 1972 Ford F-250 pickup truck. I don’t know, but I do have a lot of friends who know the value of classic cars.

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The problem with determining value of a classic car is that there are many determining factors; Popularity of that model and year, the amount of factory options, the amount of after-market products, the engines size and horsepower, the interior’s condition, exterior’s condition and a whole lot of other stuff. Also, the person doing the appraisal can make a difference.

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I’m going to do some research and come up with a list of classic car sales sources. I know a lot of sites that do this, but I know there are many more. So coming soon to this blog, will be that list.

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Another subject that came up at the birthday party was restoration projects on classic cars. Another relative of a sister-in-law has several cars he is working on and he invited me to stop by. So, another future blog will be about restoration projects and all that it entails.

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So, sorry this is so short today, but I’ve been rained out of this one. The weatherman says it will be nice this weekend, so I will have plenty of time for a couple of cruise-ins checking out all the awesome Dream Machines. Talk to ya next week.

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Roger’s Chevrolet Camaro show

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I wasn’t sure I was going to drive 2 ½ hours to go to a Camaro Show in Trenton, Michigan, but I did. It was beautiful weather and my 17 year-old son, Chase, needed driving time for his license, so I had him drive me. I didn’t have to grit my teeth…much. My hidden reason to go was that I used to live in Trenton for only one year, during my 9th grade of High School. It was a nice chance to show the school to my son.

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By the time we got to the Chevy dealership at noon, the place was packed with Camaro fans and Camaros. The cruise-in was dubbed, ‘The 6th annual Rodger’s Chevrolet Camaro Show,’ and it was sponsored by the, Detroit 5th gen Camaro Club. I was surprised this many people were here at a Chevy store because this was in the middle of Ford country, way downriver from Detroit. Ford’s massive Woodhaven assembly plant is a stone’s throw and it sure looked like a lot of Fords were driving by.

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The dealership had a lot of gorgeous new Camaros intermingled with the Camaro club’s classic Chevys on display and the crowd loved it. We were checking out a ’69 Camaro SS convertible when, VROOOM!!! A Camaro started up with a roar and everybody ran toward the sound of power.

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It was a Camaro with a big block V-8 Yenko engine and a large hood scoop sucking in air. The deep-angry-loud revving shook the ground and reverberated right through your body. This Camaro was drag-strip ready and the girl that got to start the car was in shock how loud it was inside the car, even while wearing ear protectors. When it shut down, a huge silence occurred, but only momentarily as the crowd gave up a rousing cheer.

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Something caught my eye; a Camaro with flip-up doors like some Ferrari’s have. Nobody was there to answer my questions if it was from an after-market company or just an individual with a talent for sculpting metal. Definitely, cool.

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A guy sitting next to his classic ’68 Old 442 convertible responded to a guy complaining his car wasn’t a Camaro, “Go play in someone else’s yard.” He awkwardly walked away, apparently looking for another yard. Goes to show, you just can’t please everybody and there’s always a grumpy person in every crowd.

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There were probably about 100 cars in the show and it was fun to see some of the old designs and paint jobs Camaros had over the years. It seemed most of the cars were SS models, but a few V6s were just as nice looking. In a way, it was like Mustang Alley at the Woodward Dream Cruise, woodwarddreamcruise.com, only with Camaros. Of course, Mustang alley featured close to a thousand Mustangs, but this was nice seeing these American, iconic classics.

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There were free hotdogs, drinks, trophies, raffles, door prizes, music, photo booth, as well as plenty of friendly and not pushy salespeople around, just in case you wanted to check out a new car. There were also several after-market companies hawking their ability to boost your Dream Machine’s speed.

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All-in-all, a good time and worth the drive. Pictures cannot compare to actually being there, seeing and touching. America has always had a love affair with cars and classic cars run even deeper to the heart. In Motor City, this is very true and has been like that since Henry Ford started the very first assembly plant here. It’s the stuff that Dream Machines are made of… (yeah, I stole it from Sam Spade).

Also- check out my Facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Machines/560475744012570

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