All posts by Kevin A. Wilson

Kevin A. Wilson is a freelance automotive editor, writer and historian working in the Detroit area. Currently a contributing editor to both Car and Driver and Popular Mechanics, he previously worked at AutoWeek magazine in various roles including Executive Editor, Senior Editor for Special Projects and as a columnist. He has served as a judge at many automotive art shows, car shows and concours, and is chief judge for the annual Ypsilanti Orphan Car Show. He lives in Waterford, MI with his wife Toni in the same home where they raised their three sons.

Keeping the dream (cruise) alive

Ever since it originated in 1995 in the Detroit-adjacent suburb of Ferndale, the annual Woodward Dream Cruise has expanded in all directions.

Oldsmobile Cutlass
Oldsmobile Cutlass

Although nominally a one-day event, car-related activities along the boulevard now kick off a week earlier.

While it has been primarily a suburban phenomenon along the stretch between Detroit’s northern border at 8 Mile Road and the city of Pontiac, this year there was a concerted effort to keep it going with a series of “Car Week” celebrations in the days after the main event.

For us, cruise activities began on the Tuesday prior to the Saturday event at a “Car-B-Que” hosted by former GM designer Brian Baker (career highlight: the Chevy SSR), extended through a Friday confab coordinated by the Dream Cruise’s new title sponsor, a little outfit the locals call “Ford’s.” On the day proper, we ran the whole route northbound and then headed south until traffic became so absurd (two miles in 50 minutes… people in wheelchairs were passing us) that we bailed out. Stopping in parking lots along the way, we found ample photo-ops anywhere and everywhere.

The organizers say that the Cruise draws 1.3-million people to come out and play with cars in metro Detroit, and that fully a quarter of them come from out-of-state. They bring a lot of cars.

Here’s a collection of representative photos that barely scratches the surface of what we saw at Dream Cruise 2017.

Next year, thanks to a schedule change for the car-doings in Monterey, California, the two events won’t coincide… start planning early and you could take in both car-crazy summer celebrations in the same year.

Eye Candy: Woodward Dream Cruise 2016

Cars cruise famed Woodward Avenue during the Detroit area's annual Dream Cruise week | Kevin A. Wilson photos
Cars cruise famed Woodward Avenue during the Detroit area’s annual Dream Cruise week | Kevin A. Wilson photos

Like the concurrent automotive love-fest on California’s Monterey Penninsula, the annual Woodward Dream Cruise keeps expanding. While still nominally a one-day event, the Cruise has become a weeklong extravaganza flying under the southeast Michigan region’s Autopalooza banner. Originally limited to a short list of inner-ring Detroit suburbs (primarily Royal Oak and Ferndale), it also has stretched its reach north and south along Woodward Avenue. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Concours d’Elegance of America 2016

1967 ford GT Mk 4 J-6 passes in review at the Concours d'Elegance of America | Kevin A. Wilson photos
1967 ford GT Mk 4 J-6 passes in review at the Concours d’Elegance of America | Kevin A. Wilson photos

Long ranked among the country’s top-tier concours, the Concours d’Elegance of America (formerly known as Meadow Brook for its original venue) continued to expand its scope in its 38th year. Spread across the golf course behind the Inn at St. John’s, a former seminary converted to a resort in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth, Michigan, attendees could find everything from Enthusiast of the Year Barry Meguiar’s 1901 Duryea to a Bugatti Veyron and a 2017 Porsche 991 in a circle of modern supercars. Continue reading

Classic Packard, Talbot-Lago chosen Best of Show at St. John’s

1934 Packard and 1937 Talbot-Lago take Best of Show honors at St. John's | Kevin Wilson photos
1934 Packard and 1937 Talbot-Lago take Best of Show honors at St. John | Kevin A. Wilson photos

A pair of distinctive coupes, a 1934 Packard Twelve and a 1937 Talbot-Lago, won Best-in-Show honors Sunday at the Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan. The 38th concours (previously known as Meadow Brook) on the grounds of The Inn at St. John has customarily named two Best in Show winners, one American-built and one European, and hews to tradition again in choosing cars built during the Classic era. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Sweet Sixteens at the CCCA national meet

1930 Cadillac coupe is part of a line of V16-powered cars at the CCCA gathering in Novi, Michigan | Kevin A. Wilson photos
1930 Cadillac coupe is part of a line of V16-powered cars at the CCCA gathering in Novi, Michigan | Kevin A. Wilson photos

Quiet, smooth and powerful, the Classic Era V16 engines built in the 1930s by Cadillac in Detroit and by Marmon in Indianapolis remain landmarks of automotive history. These top-of-the-line powerplants inspired coachbuilders to work to their highest standards for a discerning clientele that had somehow managed to remain wealthy through the depths of the Great Depression.

Twenty examples including the single Peerless V16 prototype — the only such car built by a domestic automaker other than Cadillac or Marmon — gathered last week for an exhibit dubbed Sweet Sixteens. It was part of the judged car show accompanying the 2016 annual meeting of the Classic Car Club of America, this year in the Detroit suburb of Novi and coincident with the opening weekend of the North American International Auto Show. Continue reading

Eye Candy: Woodward Dream Cruise

Ford Stude Chevy Traffic
Ford, Studebaker and Chevy cruisers on Woodward Avenue during the Dream Cruise | Kevin A. Wilson photos

The 2015 Woodward Dream Cruise drew more than a million people and somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 “classic” cars to suburban Detroit on a sunny Saturday celebration of the car.

On a map, Woodward Avenue looks like a 27-mile long needle pointing into the heart of the Detroit. The southern end points into the Detroit River, far south of 8 Mile Road, the city’s northern boundary. That stretch is not officially involved in the Dream Cruise, though many visitors do venture into the city where so much automotive history was written.

The far northern end forms the eye of the needle, known as The Loop, where the road circles downtown Pontiac, a town named for an Ottawa war chief. Inside The Loop is where we took most of these Eye Candy photos during what is nominally a one-day event. In reality, Dream Cruise-related car activities stretch out over more than a week; we also grabbed a few photos on Friday night near 12 Mile Road in Berkley, where a lot of clubs and auto manufacturer marketing events congregate. Continue reading

Eye Candy: 37th Concours d’Elegance of America

1938 Peugeot 402 Darl’Mat Special Sport Roadster arrives for review | Kevin A. Wilson photos
1938 Peugeot 402 Darl’Mat Special Sport Roadster arrives for review | Kevin A. Wilson photos

After a full, sunny day spent roaming the show field at the former seminary that is the Inn at St. John’s, viewing nearly 300 cars and meeting with the gathered clan of car collectors and admirers, one can only agree with the credo of the Enthusiast of the Year, Bruce Meyer: “Never Lift!” Because if you do, you’re going to miss something.

Billed as the 37th annual staging of this premier concours, the Concours d’Elegance of America  (it moved to its current venue five years ago so isn’t it finally time we can we stop reminding people that it was first known as the Meadow Brook Concours?), it takes a team of 18 to make the selection of invited entries. That team does an exceptional job, finding the rare and precious examples even as the concours stretches its boundaries to include classes for early Japanese sports cars, drag racers, dry lake racers, midgets and sprint cars, muscle cars, 1980s dream cars, and more. Continue reading

Old guard rules as Duesenberg, Bugatti win at Concours of America

1929 Duesenberg and 1937 Bugatti 57SC Atalante judged best in show at Detroit's concours | Kevin A. Wilson photos
1929 Duesenberg and 1937 Bugatti 57SC Atalante judged best in show at Detroit’s concours | Kevin A. Wilson photos

Pebble Beach may have been ready for a break with tradition last year when it awarded its coveted best of show award to a post-WWII Ferrari, but that hasn’t marked a sea-change in the classic car hobby so far. Earlier this year, the Amelia Island show gave its top awards to a 1932 Alfa Romeo and a 1930 Cord and Sunday the judges at the Concours d’Elegance of America in Plymouth, Michigan, re-affirmed that the old guard still dominates. Continue reading

Wilson’s Wisdom: Kevin picks favorites at RM Sotheby’s Motor City auction

RM Sotheby’s Motor City auction Saturday includes a proper array of grand classics that could feature on the lawn the next day at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s, including a Duesenberg SJ that should sell for somewhere around a million dollars, a few Auburns and several Packards.

A highlight will be one dozen cars from the notable collection of Howard and Norma Weaver, all offered without reserve and in excellent show-worthy condition. Continue reading