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Car Craft’s favorite cars of the 2018 Detroit Autorama

HOT ROD logo HOT ROD 3/15/2018 Hot Rod Network Staff
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The Detroit Autorama is never wanting for wild automotive creations. Hot Rods, Street Machines, Race Cars, Muscle Cars, Street Rods, Traditional Rods, Rat Rods, Motorcylces, and Trucks can be found on display at Cobo Hall every first weekend of March. Having been a regular attender for quite some time, this year seemed to be the best-yet experience of blatantly outrageous machines.

The quest for the Ridler Award often steals a large amount of attention from other great cars gathered at Cobo Hall. The "Great 8" finalists were selected on Thursday, and only one of those eight go home with the highly-coveted Ridler Award. Conventional wisdom strongly advises building a '30s-era Ford to have any hope of Ridler stardom. This year, however, two first generation Camaros were among the "Great 8" finalists. On Sunday afternoon of the Autorama, it was announced that Greg and Judy Hreshovesik had earned this year's Ridler Award with their 1957 Chevy 150 hardtop "Imagine". The radical but elegant '57 Chevy was built by Johnny's Auto Trim and Rod Ship in Alamosa, Colorado.

The Autorama is as much a motivational seminar as it is a car show. Every gearhead longs for new ideas, different approaches, and possibly rethinking a direction of one's particular hot rod. Standing by one of the most radical cars at the show, the 1966 Ford Mustang "Trifecta", it became evident that onlookers felt compelled to give their opinion. Reactions like, "gaudy", "too much", "ridiculous", "not for me", and my favorite, "it's just a show car".

Listening to these pseudo-experts, I was immediately catapulted back to the 1986 Hot Rod Supernationals where Rick Dobbertin debuted his legendary Pontiac J2000 Pro Street masterpiece. I made the trip to see Dobbertin's much-ballyhooed Pro Street masterpiece. Those 1986 reactions of the crowd were eerily the same as those who judged the Trifecta "gaudy", "ridiculous", "stupid wide tires", "not driveable", and "too much". I was in awe of the Pro Street space ship. Dobbertin was a Pro Street genius.

It dawned on me, hot rodders need outrageous, over the top cars to jump start their own creative thinking. To this day, Dobbertin's J2000 is both the gold standard of the Pro Street cars of the '80s. My guess is that the thrice-blown Trifecta might leave a similar mark. Essentially, outrageous equals memorable, exciting, and the very reason for attending a show like the Autorama. For car guys, these insane automobiles, though ignorantly criticized, often become the very motivation to get back home and get a hot rod ready for summer driving.

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