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Woodward Dream Cruise -- The main event of muscle and power

Sat, 20 Aug 2011

Woodward Avenue was reignited on Saturday for Detroit's annual summer festival of muscle cars and all-American sheetmetal.

After days of preliminary events, parades, car shows and early cruising, the main event took shape as thousands of classic cars and an estimated crowd of more than a million enthusiasts from around the country flocked to the boulevard that helped popularize the allure of fins, chrome and raw power.

The event began in the mid-1990s and now is in its 17th year. The Woodward Dream Cruise began as a fundraiser for a soccer field and has turned into a national event.

The event is free to attend and drive in, though Chevrolet was a corporate sponsor this year, and Chrysler and Ford both had prominent displays. Though marketing and media efforts have intensified in recent years, the Dream Cruise remains one of the most grassroots and informal large-scale events in the country.

This year--and every year--the event featured a procession of Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros, Covettes and Impalas and a wide section of Mopar muscle--including scores of Dodge Chargers and Challengers. Camaros, Falcons, Coronets and tuner cars and hot-rods of all makes and models prowled the avenue. Some got away with burnouts, though, as always, there was a heavy police presence. It's a rolling car show, and nearly all eras and makes are represented.

The crowds began filing in in the early morning as the sun heated up, and by midday, the event was packed along Woodward. This year also celebrated the centennial of Chevrolet, and Ford rolled out its Focus ST concept from the auto-show circuit. The also was a wide array of novelty cars, plus movie vehicles, including the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazard.

Michigan collector Ken Lingenfelter was displaying several of his Camaros customized to look like Pontiacs, dubbed T.A.s. He takes modern Chevys and modifies them with grilles and bodies, usually adding an extra does of horsepower.

“We're so focused on building horsepower and having a good time with it,” he said as he stood a few feet from the Woodward curb.

Power and fun. That's a fitting mantra for the Woodward Dream Cruise. The event is about putting history and nostalgia in motion.

Another local collector, Larry Fallat, perhaps best summed up the mood of the event and his 1963 Sting Ray by noting, “It's a driver.”

And for the 17th straight year, so is the Woodward Dream Cruise.

By Greg Migliore