Autorama Returns to Detroit for Its 66th Year

The annual event will showcase 800 hot rods and custom cars at Cobo Center on March 2-4

The North American International Auto Show and Woodward Dream Cruise are metro Detroit mainstays. Considering the city’s influence in the auto industry — Detroit manufactures more cars and trucks than any other state in the U.S. — it’s a given that these events draw large crowds each year.

But for those who like to live life a little more on the edge (or at least admire cars with a rebellious spirit), Peter A. Toundas, president and owner of Auburn Hills-based Championship Auto Shows Inc., suggests joining the 175,000 people who have added the annual Autorama to their list of must-see auto showcases.

Toundas’ company produces the traveling hot rod expo. He considers Autorama to be “the Oscars of the custom car world.”

Now in its 66th year, the show’s 2018 Detroit stop, to be held March 2-4 at Cobo Center, will feature 800 hot rods and custom cars from around the world. The Ridler Award, which is a $10,000 cash prize honor that’s bestowed to the “most outstanding” custom car, will also be presented.

“You will never find more top-end hot rods, customs [or] trend-setting vehicles than you will at Autorama,” Toundas says. “We’ve had competitors come in from Australia, from England … we’ve had them come in from northern Canada.”

The three-day event will feature other attractions, including a collection of five of the cars from last year’s Fate of the Furious film, as well as a 10-car exhibit of specially invited custom vehicles, a meet-and-greet opportunity with a WWE wrestler, and an automotive flame-throwing festival. Toundas says racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr., will also make his first appearance since retiring in 2017.

“It says a lot about our event that [Earnhardt] thought enough of Detroit Autorama to make his debut in retirement [here],” he says. “It’s a whole new show each year.”

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