Around the Motor City, the biggest, baddest, loudest example of automotive passion is the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in suburban Detroit.
Technically, the Dream Cruise started Friday evening, Aug. 18, and ran through the next day. It began 11 years ago as a local event where people could cruise and show off their old cars -- mostly Detroit iron -- the way they did as kids in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
But now car buffs from across the country bring their old cars to Detroit, clogging the streets for weeks before the event.
Ah, the chrome, the noise, the smoke the crowds. Yes, more than 1 million people lined the streets to watch other people play with their toys.
What could be more fun on a weekend in August?
It's a swell blend of demographics and psychographics, making this old-car event a perfect marketing opportunity for the vehicles of today and tomorrow. Many companies rope off hospitality areas and product displays. But this year the buzz was mostly about the 2008 Dodge Challenger and the 2009 Chevrolet Camaro.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 15, the Chrysler group touted the Challenger, which was on display at a shopping center along the cruising route.
Not to be outdone -- or perhaps to steal a little of Dodge's thunder -- General Motors rigged up a trailer with an old Camaro and a prototype of the new Camaro. GM also called a press conference for suppertime Friday at a restaurant on the route, so CEO Rick Wagoner could munch chili dogs, hang with reporters and answer questions about the new Camaro.
Ford had an area near the route called Mustang Alley, where owners of old and new Mustangs congregated.
It will be a couple of years until these latter-day pony cars can compete on pavement, but they're already vying for a place in the August sunshine. This is going to be serious competition again.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]