A little over a month ago I hopped on a plane and headed west for warmer weather and the Grand National Roadster show to see some of the best rods and customs in the country. While I was there I also got to watch the crowning of the Americas Most Beautiful Roadster 2014. The event was great and I saw some VERY high quality cars, but there's one other show that matches the abundance of high end classic cars and that's the Detroit Autorama show and their "Ridler Award". The "Motor City" has, and always will be synonymous with cars. While the car manufacturers may have left, this show has not and continues to grow in size.
This year we had Eastwood Street Team Member "Narly" hit the show and snap photos of the most eye catching rides in attendance. For anyone that's never been, the show is split up a bit different than most other indoor shows. Detroit Autorama has an upstairs AND downstairs ("The Basement") where classics are displayed. The upstairs you'll find the high end street rods, hot rods, and muscle cars which includes the "Great 8" that are contending for the Ridler Award. The basement you'll find more of the "traditional" hot rods and customs and "culture" with vendors selling their goods, bands playing, and a little more of a relaxed atmosphere. While the upstairs has all the high dollar, trailer queens, the basement has a lot more for you to do and see other than just staring at show cars. We definitely suggest hitting both if you're ever at the event.
Walking the upstairs of the show it's evident that chrome, polished, and billet are still alive and well on show cars, but other trends have started to creep into the show car circuit. The first big one is the use of more "neutral" or muted tans, golds, and copper-type colors on vehicles with matching flat painted engines and engine bays and big, deep dish wheels. You'll also see a lot of button head bolts, ARP 12 point hardware, and almost an aviation-type theme on some of these cars. This trend has definitely hit hard this past year at major shows and a lot of it has to do with the cars that the Ring Brothers have put out in the past few years that has become their "signature look". This is a nice change to all of the billet craziness of years past and it gives some nice contrast on the show floor. We cant wait to see how different builders take this trend and translate it into their own projects.
The next trend we noticed was that more and more street rods and customs are now starting to convert their entire lighting system to LED lights. We lost count on the show floor, but there were A LOT of cars with LED headlights, taillights, and interior lights. LED lights are brighter, use less power, and last longer, so it's an obvious win-win regardless of it's a headlight, a taillight, or a flashlight.
Custom strollers and pedal or push cars have hit the scene HARD and the kids are cruising around shows looking the part in their own custom ride. I think this is a great way to get our future motorheads interested in the hobby and also gives the motorhead parent in the family something to build for their kids in their spare time. We love it and could see a mini-car show section in the future at shows for proud kids and parents to show off their mini push and pedal car projects!
Gene Winfield is an icon in the Hot Rod and Custom Car world and last year he took his Live "Chop Shop" on the road touring many of the major Autorama and World of Wheels shows around the country. For these live demonstrations Gene and local enthusiasts chop a car during the 3 day events. When I interviewed Gene at SEMA a few years back he told us that he never knows what they're going to have him chop before the show, but he really doesn't care, because nothing scares him! This is a real treat to see a legend at work and this was the second year Gene stopped in Detroit to chop a car for a lucky enthusiast. Gene needs only a small selection of tools to chop a car and many of those that he travels with for these events are Eastwood tools including the MIG 135, plastic hammers and panel beating bag, shrinker, stretcher, and hammers and dollies. If you look close in some of the pictures you can see some of our tools getting put to use on this years Detroit Chop Shop car!
One of the most prestigious awards in the Custom Car world is the "Ridler Award" that's given out at Detroit Autorama. The "Great 8" that are considered for this award are the cream of the crop and have some of the best and most wild work on them. The spread this year for The Great 8 was pretty vast with hot rods, customs, and muscle cars in the running. In the end a wild custom Buick Riviera by JF Launier and JF Kustoms took home the 2014 Ridler Award. This car is absolutely insane and you'll notice different subtle custom mods every time you look at it. Congrats to JF Kustoms and ALL of the Great 8 finalists, that decision had to be very hard for the judges!
With another year in the books, Detroit is getting better each year, and along with the Grand National Roadster Show has definitely set the bar high for 2014 shows. Detroit always marks the beginning of the car show season for those of us in cold-winter states and after this winter we've had, it couldn't have come soon enough!
Thanks to Eastwood Street Team Member Narly for the photos! If you're attending any major car shows this season and want to learn more about the perks of becoming an Eastwood Street Team Member, drop us a line here or on our Facebook page!