Event Coverage: The 2017 Detroit Autorama


The last time I was able to personally attend the Detroit Autorama was in 2013, precisely the day after I got my car back from Air Lift Performance. On the trip back to Toronto I made a promise to myself that I would return, but I didn’t know it would take me quite so long to do so.

2017 was the show’s 65th anniversary –which is an extremely long run for a show of any kind– and though it would be fun to say I planned specifically to return to the show on its 65th birthday it was all just a coincidence.

Rod Authority hired me to cover the show last December and I agreed to it before I even knew it was the 65th anniversary.

Autorama, not to be confused with the Canadian show Motorama, is one of the larger shows in the United States and there’s a lot of hype around the show because of the coveted Ridler award.

This means many of the best shops in the USA bring their cars to Detroit for a chance to compete for the Ridler, the best of which make the Great 8, with one of those 8 ultimately taking home the award and the cash and jacket that goes with it.

Though only 8 make the cut for consideration that doesn’t mean the rest of the show isn’t noteworthy, quite the opposite in fact.

In fact as a whole this is probably one of the highest quality shows I’ve ever attended. Since there are going to be insanely well-built cars in the building everyone seems to step up their game.

I spent two days walking the show and didn’t get bored for any of it. Truth be told I probably missed some of it after returning to gawk at a few specific cars over and over.

Sometimes it was because of how well they were built, and other times like with the car below, I stared in an attempt to figure out exactly what it started as.

Largely a classic American car show there were a few late model cars and a couple imports peppered throughout, however because I see a lot of those cars in the summer months, and because I was working for a domestic publisher, my focus wasn’t on there.

Don’t worry though, I’ll get a lot of import, euro, and late model photos this weekend at Motorama.

I mentioned above that much of my time at Autorama was spent drooling over the same cars over and over and one of those cars was the Charger below known as Solo.

Built by Pro Comp Custom this charger is a beast, and if you thought Miro’s under construction Cyrious Garageworks built Charger was cut up significantly you might need to avert your eyes away from this car.

Solo has been chopped and sectioned 3 inches making it the lowest Charger built to date, and the black on black color scheme, with dashes of purple for accenting, make it one of the meanest looking too.

Being able to see over the roof of a charger really puts into perspective just how big these cars were. They are massive, massive machines.

This car will actually be making the trip to Toronto this weekend so I will get another chance to look at it and listen in on people’s reactions.

Additionally Pro Comp Custom will be bringing a Camaro they built that is reportedly equally ridiculous.

Another vehicle I shot quite a bit was the Classic Car Studio built, twin turbo LS1, bagged c10 that caused quite a stir at SEMA.

Tiffany, as the truck is called, certainly lived up to its reputation in person and is a beautiful truck inside and out.

With a patina exterior, one might have given Tiffany a passing grade if the interior was rough to match but Classic Car Studio completely re did it from dashboard to seat back and floor to roof.

The colors they chose worked really well and while it had been modernized they didn’t kill the character or the original design.

The metal work under the hood, or rather under the hood if the hood was anywhere to be seen, was extremely well done and the bed floor was done to match.

After looking at this truck through they eyes of Performance Improvement’s Rob McJannett it was great to see the car in the metal for myself.

On the topic of metal work, this Troy Trepanier (aka Rad Rides By Troy) and Dennis Mariani project sat near the front entrance welcoming show goers with its bare metal body.

Starting with a pristine ’29 Tudor Troy Trepanier predictably transformed this car into a work of art, much like all of his other builds.

I’ve read that this far might see burgundy paint at some point but I for one hope it doesn’t.

It’s raw state really lets the metal work (of which there is a lot; chopped top, shaved drip rails, swapped windshield frame and more) speak for itself.

On a more personal level, you already know all the bagged trucks at the show spoke to me.

This Dodge, which was in the Tremac transmission booth, was quite a nice looking truck with plenty of patina and battle scars (see the windshield).

Contrasting the patina and bruises were the bright white Detroit Steel wheels.

The Detriot Steel/Mobsteel guys actually invited us to their after party later that night which was a great time, so thanks to them for some good ol’ Detroit Hospitality!

This @zielger_fab built C10 had a number of people around it at any give time hence the lack of complete truck shots.

The color combination of teal, pewter, and brown worked very well on this truck and actually made my wife, who has previously not expressed much interest in C10s, stop and take a few photos with her phone.

Another truck of interest to the Thomas family, for obvious reasons, was this stunning ’51 Chevy, again colors are key here and playing off the brown paint that was under the green was a great idea.

I cringe slightly when I consider how much seeing an interior like this has added to my overall Project Why Wait budget, but seriously this is a work of art inside.

I won’t be installing a center console in my truck but this truck makes a good argument for full door panels.

Another wicked idea/application of an idea on this truck was the bed floor.

Lots of people do tilt beds but you can’t really see the air management at shows that way, nor can you easily work on it. This was a great compromise and something I’d certainly like to emulate with my truck.

Finally the LS swap on this truck was also extremely well done and the inner fenders appear to be custom and coming straight off the fenders then sloping down really cleans up the engine bay.

While it took some work I did manage to pull my self away from the AD above to check out this wicked Studabaker.

A 2016 Goodguys 2016 Vintage Air Custom Rod of the year winner this black beauty is a car I wish I was disappointed that I didn’t take more photos of.

I’m still trying desperately hard to not scratch the motorcycle itch, but bikes like the one above don’t help. Thankfully I’m light on disposal income right now or I’d probably be trying to sneak something past my wife at this point.

Going to round this post out with a few more assorted photos.

I’ve already been pitched the opportunity to cover the show again next year so I doubt four years will pass until the next time I’m in Detroit!

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