Mustangs and Fords of Autorama
Photos from the 64th Annual Detroit Autorama
February is not the time of year that you want to be in Detroit, unless you like larger than average potholes, frigid temperatures, and perpetually gray skies, but car guys know that the second month of the year is actually the time to be in the Motor City because it’s when the Autorama takes place at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. The 2016 show, held the weekend of February 27-28, is the 64th anniversary of the Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama, now presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts.
The two most coveted trophies among the car show scene are America’s Greatest Roadster (AMBR) awarded at the Grand National Roadster Show in California, and the Ridler Award at Autorama. The AMBR award is obviously restricted by its name—roadster, which basically means only street rod roadsters can try for it. The Ridler however allows any custom vehicle to compete Autorama, with the main rule being that the car cannot have been shown anywhere else before the show. Even a car under construction cannot appear in a show, magazine, or (technically) a website before it rolls into Cobo Hall or it’s ineligible for the Ridler. But street machines and hot rods of all types can compete for the Ridler, not just open-top street rods, and that makes the show more diverse than the Roadster Show.
We sent the intrepid David Hakim to the Autorama to find us all the Mustangs and Fords attending the show, and he provided the photos you see here.
Australian Falcon Seeks the Ridler
Chris Bitmead brought his 1976 Australian Falcon (think Mad Max) all the way from Perth, Australia (over 14,000 miles from Detroit!) to compete with the world’s best street rods and hot rods for the coveted Ridler Award, the first Australian machine to ever try for the Ridler. The Ridler award is judged based on creativity, engineering, and quality workmanship. Fifty year-old engineer Bitmead said, "I like the idea of building something, be it a car or whatever, as good as I can. I want to make it as good and precise and unique as I can make it. At first glance, it looks like a 1976 Falcon coupe. The more you look at it, the more it’s different from the original. The suspension, the brakes, the driveline, the engine, the transmission," Bitmead explained. "Every panel on the body has been modified. We made all the glass for the car and all the indicators."
Bitmead said he has about 30,000 man-hours (that’s the equivalent of one guy working nearly three and a half years, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!) of work in the car, adding, “It's ridiculous how much we spend on these cars."
We wish him luck, as it would be very cool to see a Ford street machine walk away with the Ridler Award.