At the height of the cruising phenomenon, you’d spend the night racing along Woodward, taking time out to stop at any of the more than two dozen burger stands lining the length of the boulevard, each with its own micro-culture. But Ted’s is gone, along with the Suzie Q, and so is the Totem Pole, its Big Chief Burger but a tasty memory. Like most suburban arteries, Woodward has been taken over by fast food chains and strip malls. But if you look hard, you’ll find a few vestiges of the original cruising era, like Royal Oak’s classical-designed Vinsetta Garage and, a few miles south, Wetmore’s — which has the distinction of being the first and only garage designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
“God is in the details,” or so said that legendary automotive enthusiast, Albert Einstein. And you just need to spend a little while cruising Woodward Ave. to see what he meant. It’s the perfect set of wheels on an old Chevelle SS, the gleaming pony on a ’64-1/2 Mustang’s grille, a perfect eagle paint job on the hood of a Trans Am and a pair of fuzzy dice on, well, just about everything cruising Woodward Ave. over the weekend, it seems. Getting it right doesn’t come cheap, of course. You’ll find many a Dream Cruiser willing to tell stories of plunking down thousands more on accessories than they paid for their cars in the first place.
Ron Owens has been sitting at the corner of 12 Mile Road and Woodward every night for nearly a week. “This is the only time you get to actually see them drive by,” he explains, as a wave of muscle cars light up their tires when the light goes green. “It’s a parking lot on Saturday.” Indeed, you’d be forgiven if you confused Dream Cruise Saturday with rush hour in Los Angeles. Of course, Owens admits he’ll be back over the weekend, as well. “You get to see all variations of cars, from the classics to muscle cars,” he says, beaming broadly from the driver’s seat of his own rather unusual collectible — a 25-year-old Harley-Davidson golf cart.
John Micallef’s another one who has been racing out to Woodward Ave. after work the last few days. “Been out here cruising all week,” he notes, because on Saturday, it’s so crowded, “You can’t cruise anymore.” There’s nothing Micallef likes more than the praise he gets for his 1980 Chevy Monte Carlo, lovingly restored and detailed. He bought the car seven years ago for $4500, and so far, he’s put another $3500 in on everything from the engine to the metal flake paint job. “And I’m still adding more,” he proudly boasts.