2007 Woodward Dream Cruise Index

“It’s my 11th. No wait, 13th. No, ah, I can’t even remember,” laughs Ron Cottick, “I just know that I’ve been to ’em all.”


It’s easy to forget just how long the Woodward Dream Cruise has been rumbling up Detroit ’s main drag. It’s an institution now, drawing an easy 40,000 hot rods, classic cars, and muscle cars for a long day of cruising – along with more than a million gawkers who can lust, fantasize, or simply reminisce about the days when muscle was king and Woodward Ave. was the center of the automotive universe.


Cottick, a suburban Detroit salesman was barely born when that era came to a close, back in 1969. That’s one reason why he went out and bought a Valiant Duster, built that year, and has been frantically restoring it to get ready for this year’s Cruise.


“I’ve got three years into it,” he explains. “I never put that much time into anything – even my wife – but she’s demanding all my time from now on.”


The Dream Cruise is officially scheduled for Saturday, August 18th, but the active word there is “officially.” By then, Cottick will have clocked another week sitting with his Duster on the side of Woodward watching traffic go by. And he’s not alone.


What started as a one-day event has slowly, almost imperceptibly become a month of cruising. Every night, as the warm summer cools down a wee bit, crowds descend along the boulevard, growing each night. More Deuce Coupes, Chevelles, and Roadrunners rolling up and down Woodward.


More folks like Tyler Wright sitting on the curb watching all the action. The 14-year old was one of nearly 500 fans gathered in the lot of a shopping center at Woodward Ave. and 13 Mile Road , on Wednesday. “Cool,” he said softly, as a ’65 Mustang revved up at the stoplight. “Sweet,” added the teen, when a Ferrari zoomed by. “Awesome,” came the comment for a ’67 Roadrunner with a shaker hood.


“I’m breaking him in,” explained Tyler ’s grandfather, Bob Wright. The 75-year-old had plenty of memories of his own, honed during years of cruising and street racing down Woodward. Pick a landmark and Wright will tell you a story, like the time, at that very corner, when he got pulled over for a noisy muffler and was yanked into the police station to wait for somebody to come bail him out.


Back in the day, old-time cruisers will quickly tell you, there weren’t so many stores, nor suburban homes, along the stretch of Woodward Avenue running north of the famous 8 Mile city limits of Detroit.  And there were far fewer stoplights.


There were plenty of hamburger joints and diners, with waitresses wearing poodle skirts racing, car to car on roller skates, just like the classic cruising movie, American Graffiti.


And if you hung around long enough, you might spot a ringer, a factory guy with the latest engine to come off the dyno at the GM Technical Center, or down from the Ford Proving Grounds. Sometimes it might even be John DeLorean, the legendary General Motors exec, then head of the Pontiac Division, or his top lieutenant, Gordon Wangers, who most experts credit with creating muscle car mania with products like the “Goat,” the GTO.


People came from all over Detroit to see and be seen back then, and more than occasionally to set up a serious race.


These days, Woodward Avenue is too crowded to do more than a quick burnout. And as Dream Cruise gets closer, the police presence increases, so even that might get you a ticket, Wright laments.


But it doesn’t matter to those lining the 16-mile stretch of road that is the official Woodward Dream Cruise course. The chance to see so many classics in one place, to share some laughs – and some memories – is an irresistible lure. Just ask Greg Cook, who comes in every year, 500 miles from his home in Gettysburg , Pennsylvania , driving his rare, final-year Edsel two-door hardtop.


“It’s the world’s biggest car party,” he laughs, parking his car in a prime spot right along Woodward. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.


2007 Woodward Dream Cruise, Part I (8/19/2007)
Woodward Dream Cruise turns Detroit's main drag into a, well, drag.


2007 Woodward Dream Cruise, Part II (8/19/2007)
Corporate America checks in with its Dream Cruise offerings.


2007 Woodward Dream Cruise, Part III (8/19/2007)
Batmobiles, BMW Isettas and other Woodward oddities.


2007 Woodward Dream Cruise, Part IV (8/19/2007)
The devil - and the delights - are in the details.

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