...and that's not a bad thing. At all. As the historic car show cruises into its 20th year and the classics become newer, more and more younger enthusiasts will be around to keep the tradition alive.
To be sure, the Woodward Dream Cruise isn't at any risk of falling apart. Attendance usually tops the 1 million mark, with around 30,000 cars in the whole show. It's recognized among enthusiasts nationwide; as long as I've been doing Jalopnik Detroit, the Dream Cruise is almost as synonymous with Detroit as our crippled infrastructure.
And as much as locals gripe that it's merely a giant suburban gearhead playdate since the cruise isn't actually in the city of Detroit, we seem to be inching closer to conversations about extending the cruise south of 8 Mile. (We've talked about this, too.)
But like anything involving cars or the automotive industry, there's been some hand-wringing over whether events like the Dream Cruise are a dying pastime. Do the millennials care about cars? Do they fix them up? Is this just a boomer fantasy?
Answers: Yes, yes and no. For three reasons: The increasingly younger 26-year classic designation, the growth of classic imports and the fact that enthusiasm among young gearheads is underrated and never was in danger to begin with.
A "classic" in Michigan is anything 26 years or older, and you can get a special plate designating it as such. Every year, The Detroit News points out a few classics; this year's class includes the Chevy Camaro IROC-Z and the Honda CRX Si. (And there are a few duds, like the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.) These, and those forthcoming each year, are the cars us so-called millennials grew up with, the ones we used ogle in buff books and dream of owning someday. The answer to everything, the Miata, will become a "classic" next year.
Sure, it might seem a little strange that in a few years, we'll probably see just as many Integras as Eldorados. But tastes change. Styles change. Engineering architectures change. That's what the Cruise is all about: a celebration of the car, a celebration of what they mean to us and a celebration of how they've evolved.
But as the show goes on, I can guarantee that the show will be a little less "American" in feel. In its beginnings, the Dream Cruise has always been about throwing it back to the days when muscle cars filled the lots of drive-in movie theaters and malt shops. But look no further than the @SeenOnWoodward account to see the Supras and Coopers creeping in. (And as a side note, Chevy is the sponsor of the cruise, but Nissan will have a station there for the first time this year.)
Again, that's not a bad thing. While American cars lost a lot what made them great in the 1970s and 1980s, it doesn't mean those decades didn't produce anything worthwhile. It simply goes back to how the industry evolved, and what certain demographics were exposed to.
And if grandpa isn't able to get his Packard out next year? Don't worry — chances are he's got a grandchild willing to continue the tradition. The Dream Cruise is in safe hands, so get out there and drive.