Detroit Autorama – April 30 to May 2
Of the Autorama series of shows, the Detroit Autorama is widely heralded as the one you simply cannot miss.
This show usually takes place earlier in the year as most people know, but the COVID19 pandemic has left all event organizers scrambling to salvage what’s left of the show season.
The fact that the Detroit Autorama is still happening is great news given that a lot of people, who have had little to do for the last 15 months, have spent this time making upgrades and changes to their project cars.
For this reason, we’re expecting to see some amazing transformations at this show.
The show will be held at Cobo Hall in Detroit (now renamed the TFC Center).
No word on mask requirements but it’s a safe bet that they will probably be recommended at the least, and perhaps mandated, so be prepared. The show hall is very large and there’s plenty of room for social distancing, so show-goers are urged to take what precautions they deem necessary for their own safety.
As of this writing (April 16, 2021), it’s still a go.
History of the Detroit Autorama
The Detroit Autorama has been put together in collaboration between the Michigan Hot Rod Association (MHRA) and Championship Auto Shows (CASI) since 1961. In 1963, CASI President Bob Larivee Sr. helped the Michigan Hot Rod Association (MHRA) form a new governing body for show car events, titled the International Show Car Association (ISCA). The ISCA has since become the leading promoter and governing body of show car events and competitions in the country. Along with CASI (now “North America’s largest producer of indoor hot rod shows”]) they co-promote and judge events from coast-to-coast, ranging from the Boston World of Wheels to the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. All ISCA events have a series of “Outstanding Awards” for more than three-dozen classes. Each one counts as a single point in the ISCA point standings, which is split into four overall classes: Rod, Custom, Truck, and Bike.
If, at the end of a season, a single contributor has four Outstanding Awards in a single category, they are locked into the ISCA Championship Finals, which is held every as part of the Chicago World of Wheels, the week following the show at Cobo. Many Ridler Winners and Great-8 cars have gone on to attend other ISCA shows and win an overall Class Championship. Most recently Tammy Ray and her ’34
Gold Digger did so in back-to-back seasons in 2010 & 2011.
The most events ever on an ISCA schedule was 99, set during the 1982–83 season. The current schedule features 30 events, including the Detroit Autorama, and the ISCA Championship Finals-held within the Chicago World of Wheels.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the Autorama continued to grow into one of the most prestigious car shows in the country. To assist in growing, the next generation of professional builders and renowned car owners began to make their way to Cobo every winter in hopes of capturing the much-desired Ridler Award. Among them were California’s Bobby Alloway and Boyd Coddington, Memphis’ George Poteet, along with many others. The only downside to this growing national attention was Michigan’s dwindling presence. As exhibitors started traveling from across the country to fight for the show’s top prize, many local Detroit and Michigan entries became less competitive against cars from other states, most of whom were being built with much larger budgets. Though the Alexander Brothers continued to build local cars for the show (including a Great-8 competitor in 2012), Rochester Hills‘s Dave Emery’s ’32 Ford Roadster ( Revolver) was in 1997 the last Michigan-built entries to win the Ridler Award (as of 2021).
Here’s a fun video of the 2019 show: