Walking a couple of miles up and down Woodward, one can only catch a small slice of the panorama of curious cruisers. I noted license plates from as far away as Georgia and Colorado and as close as Ontario, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
Windsor, Ontario, actually lies across the river south of Detroit rather than north as so many Americans think of our Canadian neighbors. Even considering its proximity, judging by their showing at the Cruise there must be a treasure trove of collector cars in Ontario. Of special interest at the DC were the unique-to-Canada Ford and GM products that flourished in the Forties and Fifties. Canadian Ford dealers offered a medium-priced Mercury called the Monarch, Canadian Mercury dealers (now kaput) sold a Ford-sized Meteor, and Canadian Pontiac, a Chevrolet-sized Parisienne.
The vast majority of Cruisers are muscle cars, street rods, and especially modifieds those that pretty much maintain original appearance but have been re-powered and re-suspended. I noticed that modifiers now are turning to vintage Chrysler products for their artistry, for the simple reason that they are in ample supply and are, well, cheaper to buy.
Another newly fertile field for modifiers and their cousins, the rodders, appeared to be unit-bodied Square Birds and giant Lincolns and Continentals of the late '50s. Some of these have been very artistically chopped, channeled, cleaned and sensationally painted. The expertise of those I’ve been known to demean as "shade tree mechanics" was demonstrated in both design and metalworking skill at the Cruise and herewith I offer my apology.
You don’t see too many of the truly antique Cruising. I spotted perhaps a half dozen Model Ts that had not been cut up and remade into rods, and a few Model As likewise. Generally, the Cruise is no place for true classics, either, though on Friday night I trailed a neat '36 Cadillac convertible coupe with side-mounts and on Saturday, there was a handsome '38 Lincoln Zephyr four-door convertible. The curious thing about the Ontario-plated silver LZ was that it had been modified — inside only — with unusual hand controls for the driver, no steering wheel. Indeed, why shouldn’t a handicapped driver be able to experience fully the fun of old cars?
And just because the '67 Lincoln Continental was the last legitimate four-door convertible didn’t stop the folks showing their like wares off to the Woodward throngs. I saw two: a never-was '59 DeSoto four-door with the top neatly cut off and an '80s Mercury Colony Park wagon, likewise with the top cut off, somewhat more crudely (work in progress). Indeed there were quite in few WIPs in the Cruise, at least one plainly so labeled.
Finally, there was the category of what I’ll call grandmother or estate-sale cars — the well-preserved decades-old two- or four-door sedans that make you feel like you’re in a time warp. Let’s hope we can keep the choppers and the modifiers prospecting in junkyards rather than probate courts.
Altogether, as I’ve written before about this event, it’s hands-down simply THE greatest free car show. Period.