By Scott Worden, Senior Director, Auto & Mobility
The 26th annual Woodward Dream Cruise is coming August 21, and just like this Stevie Wonder single from 1968, it’s “More Than A Dream.”
In fact, if you live on or around Woodward Avenue, you might think the Dream Cruise is ON any given Friday or Saturday night throughout the summer. The air is redolent with the scent of burning rubber and 4-barrel carburetors. The sweet tones of Detroit Muscle can be heard all up and down the avenue.
Some folks set up streetside lawn chairs to relax and enjoy the show. Others leave town in a huff, lamenting the disruption to traffic flow. Me? I’ve had the good fortune to live near Woodward and enjoy a front-row seat since the Cruise was born in ’95 – I embrace the Dream Cruise and what it stands for.
Dream Cruise celebrates Detroit’s car culture on one of the most iconic roadways in the U.S., live and in real time. It’s what Eminem was talking about in the Chrysler Super Bowl commercial from years back: “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.”
Woodward runs 27 miles from Detroit to Pontiac, and it made history in 1909 as the first paved road in the country when a mile from McNichols to Seven Mile was converted to a concrete highway. Seven years later, the rest of the 27-mile stretch was paved and the stage was set for Detroit’s “Main Street,” a wide, flat avenue that connects city and suburbs, runs through the heart of the Metro Detroit area, and is absolutely perfect for cruising in a car with windows down and radio up.
The array of different makes, models and time periods represented at the Dream Cruise is nothing short of mind-boggling. Mustangs, Corvettes and Chargers… Roadrunners, GTOs and Barracudas… 1920s and ‘30s-era coupes, some restored with a nod to historical accuracy, others chop-shopped and souped-up in a way that would make Billy Gibbons jealous. European rarities, mail order kit cars, and Hollywood recreations are all in attendance: look there’s The Ectomobile! and the Family Truckster with Aunt Edna on the roof! and yes, that’s the Flux Capacitor fluxing with Doc Brown at the wheel of his DeLorean Time Machine. I think this year, to reflect the industry’s shift toward EVs and zero-emission vehicles, we might just see a few instant classics like the Mustang Mach E or Tesla Model S.
And as interesting and amazing as the show on Woodward will be, there’s a whole-nother level going on in the parking lots and events held along the way. Here you will find many classic car owners happy to park and display their vehicles, often with the hood up to show off “the mill” so you can see the time and passion they put into the car. Some have their cars for sale in hopes of finding a buyer, which is not a longshot by any means — there will be many in attendance who have arrived with large rolls of cash in hand, looking to do that very thing.
Everybody seems to have a story to tell, and they are generally happy to share it: how they acquired the car, what kind of work they’ve done to it, why it means something to them. I’ve noticed how these stories often include family connections, where the car becomes a type of glue or thread of continuity between generations.
So come on over Woodward way on August 21st, and spend a few hours or more at the world’s largest single-day automotive event: 40,000 classic cars from Metro Detroit and around the world — New Baltimore to New Zealand, California to Canada and all points in between. You’re likely to learn something new, see something beautiful and gain more appreciation for the city we call home.