"Do they still make cars in Detroit?" "Do they only drive American cars in Detroit?" I've had a year and a half of these questions in the comments of Jalopnik Detroit. If this doesn't convince you, I don't know what else will.
I keep having to emphasize this, but not only is the Woodward Dream Cruise one of Michigan's most important enthusiast events, it's one of the most important anywhere. Only the North American International Auto Show draws a bigger crowd.
It shows why Detroit, the capital of the American auto industry, matters. The majority of cruisers live all across Southeast Michigan. Those who don't live around here — as evidenced by the Florida plates — still come back every year just for that.
Not to be all Chrysler commercial, but a great majority of people at the cruise designed, built or sold the very cars they drive down Woodward. They pass that tradition down to their children and grandchildren, who keep car culture alive. You know how many second-, third- and fourth-generation auto industry employees live here?
But it's not just Big 3 (and AMC, and Packard, and so on…) loyalists. As we talked about earlier, the Cruise is welcoming to everyone. The event's got a persistent reputation, maybe even a stereotype, that it's just a paradise for old suburban white dudes reliving their teenage years. If you've gone to the Cruise in recent years, you'll see the diversity growing —- not like you could ever get an all-white crowd at any Metro Detroit event to begin with.
Women are cruising. Blacks are cruising. Gays are cruising. Teens and 20-somethings — we'll avoid that m-word — are cruising. It's hot rods. It's muscle cars. It's also 911 Targas and Australian Ford Capris.
The constant refrain this year was "if you haven't seen a (any car here) in a while, just look up." But the other comparison? It was the "anti-Pebble," since the Cruise fell on the same weekend as Pebble Beach. Which event felt more accessible to you, the everyday gearhead?
All photos by Jerry Villagrana