January 26, 2023


Still car-crazy after all these years

The Milk Truck at Cobo Hall

The Milk Truck at the Detroit Autorama

Detroit Autorama: Oasis in the Snow

Then someone would open a door to the auditorium and we would catch a glimpse of summer. The weather outside did not matter, inside Autorama it was high performance heaven.
The Milk Wagon appeared at the 1967 Autorama in Detroit

Unless you’ve spent time in a cold climate, you might not appreciate the significance of an event like the Detroit Autorama.

Although I actually enjoy snow and cold weather, it does tend to curtail most forms of motorsports. The local tracks usually close in October, and they don’t reopen until late March at best. The majority of hot rods and street machines usually go into hibernation during the same period.

If you are a gear-head in the north, the winter months are devoid of racing action. My friends and I followed the events in Southern California in the pages of Drag News, but it wasn’t the same as being at the track.

Thankfully, in the midst of the winter doldrums, Autorama would arrive, providing a reminder of why we were car-crazy in the first place.

Usually, we would attend Friday night, because we didn’t want to wait until Saturday. We would leave our coats in the car so we wouldn’t have to carry them around on the show floor.

We would arrive in the Cobo Hall foyer, shivering in the ghastly green flourescent light, as we waited in line to reach the ticket booth. Outside the floor to ceiling windows, the mounds of snow would look gray in the evening gloom.

That is how it was in the foyer, all cold and green and gray.

Then someone would open a door to the auditorium and we would catch a glimpse of summer. The lighting inside was orange and warm and inviting. Even more important we could make out chrome wheels, candy paint and meticulously detailed engines. It didn’t matter what the weather was like outside, inside the arena it was high performance heaven.

Of course most of the people were there to see the celebrity cars; the Batmobile, Monkeemobile or maybe the Bonnie and Clyde death car. Others came to see the outlandish caricatures of cars made out of bathtubs, pool tables or (I’m not making this up) outhouses. In 1967, I was quite impressed by the colorful “Milk Wagon” you see above.

But we weren’t there for the celebrities or the fantasy rods. We were there for the race cars. Fortunately for us, there was an abundance of racing machines at the 1967 Autorama.

The entry list included the ’67 ride of one of Detroit’s more aggravating racers. I’ll profile that car in the next post.

Tom Bonner