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2003 Woodward Dream Cruise


2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

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Forget Los Angeles and American Graffiti. In those balmy years bookmarked by the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the real action was on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue. And not just for those teens who could scrape together enough money for a set of wheels. Late at night, you’d often find some of the biggest names in the auto industry, like John DeLorean, prowling Woodward, testing their latest products and challenging the competition.

But that was long ago, before anti-war protests became the passionate pastime of American youth and a pair of oil shocks made it too expensive to keep cruising those gas-gulping muscle cars. Sensible sedans took over, fuel-efficient, if slow, along with Soccer Mom minivans and sport-utility vehicles. Until one August afternoon in 1995.

It began as a small gathering of aging enthusiasts, a way to bring back to life those warm summer nights when Detroit iron provided the pulse of the American dream. As those aging children of the ’50s pulled the tarps off their long-idled GTOs, Mustang GTs, and Road Runners, Woodward Avenue transformed for an afternoon into Memory Lane. The event quite literally stopped traffic, as it will again on Saturday when the ninth Woodward Dream Cruise rolls back into town.

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

Enlarge Photo
Make that crawls, bumper-to-bumper, along the northern half of Woodward Ave., the eight-lane boulevard that runs nearly 26 miles, from Detroit’s riverfront to downtown Pontiac. By various estimates, as many as two million people could turn out to watch the parade of muscle cars, hot rods, classic cars, and an assortment of vehicles too odd to classify. Perhaps 60,000 or more of these cruisers, along with plenty of more modern machines simply along for the ride.

What started as a one-day event has been expanding annually, and so, while the formal Woodward Dream Cruise is scheduled for August 16th this year, you could find plenty of cruisers looping long stretches of Woodward the weekend before — to the appreciative waves, cheers and applause of bystanders who were already filling grandstands, lounging in the back of parked pickups or simply sitting on lawn chairs.

TheCarConnection.com has been out all week and here’s a look at what we’ve found — and a preview of more to come this weekend.

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

Enlarge Photo
The Corvette Pickup

You’ll be likely to see the first few Chevrolet SSRs cruising Woodward this weekend, a perfect opportunity for the automaker to spotlight its new “halo car,” which Chevy is billing “the Corvette pickup. Well, George Prentice didn’t feel like waiting when he got hold of a ’54 Corvette a few years back. “Think of this as a forerunner of the SSR,” says the resident of St. Claire Shores, Michigan, as he tools down Woodward. Prentice’s approach was simple: lifte the trunk lid off the early Vette, then custom-design a pickup-style bed that simply slipped inside.

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

2003 Woodward Dream Cruise

Enlarge Photo
Little Red Truck

Jim Barkey’s ’78 Dodge is a bit more conventional, but not by much. Equipped with a tire-spinning 360-cubic-inch V-8, his Li’l Red Truck was one of just 2100 built that year. “I just like it. It’s definitely different,” he beams, cruising down Woodward with his wife. Back in the day, you’d likely not see many trucks on Woodward — unless they were making deliveries to one of the hamburger stands that served as home base for so many cruisers. But expect to find plenty of them in this year’s Dream Cruise vying for attention along with more conventional hot rods and muscle cars.


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