By on October 28, 2014

In my day job I happen to do work for a number of car and motorcycle clubs. Some of the officers have become friends and they know about my side gig writing about cars and car culture. Last year, in the early spring, my buddy Tony, who’s the prez of the Motor City Camaro and Firebird Car Club, told me that the first car show of the year was being held at a Kmart parking lot near Eight Mile and Telegraph. It ended up being a worthwhile visit. There were some interesting cars and I even got a TTAC post about donks and low riders out of it. When Tony recently told me about the last car show of the year, being held in another shopping center parking lot, also near Eight Mile Road, this one by Van Dyke, I figured that he hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I drove over to the east side of town.

Start the YouTube 3D video player. Click on the settings icon in the menu bar to select 2D or your choice of stereo 3D formats

However, when I got there, at the supposed appointed time, it was just an empty parking lot.  I thought I might be in the wrong place, but then I saw a line of late model Chevy Impalas driving across the lot. Now one or two Chevy Impalas is nothing to notice, a couple of nondescript automotive appliances (though they could be had with 300+ hp), but a line of ten 9th generation Chevy Impalas in a row is a car club. Which it was, the Impala Boyz (along with a few Impala girlz too).

These Impala girls came out to support the Impala Boyz car club. Full gallery here.

These Impala girls came out to support the Impala Boyz car club. Full gallery here.

Apparently, this was to be the final gathering of the tribes, an assortment of model specific car clubs showing up to represent. There were a lot of hugs, handshakes, fist bumps and maybe even a beer or two poured out in memory of department members. There were Impalas, Dodge Chargers, a big contingent of Pontiac Grand Prixs, representing a few clubs but most from the Grand Prix Family,  a couple of local Corvette clubs, and arriving almost as late as my friends in their Camaros was a parade of panthers, the local chapter of the CVB, the national Crown Vic Boys club,  in a variety of Grand Marquises, Town Cars and Crown Vics in both civilian and P71 police interceptor trim.

The Crown Vic Boys show up with their panthers en masse. Full gallery here.

The Crown Vic Boys show up with their panthers en masse. Full gallery here.

What I liked about this show, unlike just about every other car show I’ve attended this year, is that these were virtually all daily drivers. Just because someone may not be able to afford a special weekend car doesn’t mean that they don’t love their ride just as much as someone with one or more pampered special use automobiles. It was a run what you brung event and while most of the cars were in nice shape, there were some that showed the scars of being a daily driver in Detroit. Just because it’s got some dents and rust or a missing bumper doesn’t mean that you don’t love it and want to hang out with others who share that love.

I’d categorize the show as semi-official. While it had the cooperation of the shopping center, there wasn’t any judging or official competitions for trophies. There were some burnouts over to the side and some folks were hooning around the periphery.  As a matter of fact, that activity was in the backstory of a little vignette I witnessed. I was talking to someone in the Camaro club, mentioning how I think the integrated spoiler on the back deck of the 4th generation Camaro is a masterful piece of design when a Dodge Neon SRT4 parked right in the middle of the Camaros.

Full gallery here

A bit of a non-conformist, the only Neon in the show. Full gallery here

When the owner of the Neon got out of his car, the Camaro club members started giving him a hard time about parking there, telling him he should park down the row, near the end of the aisle. He explained rather articulately, emphasizing  his comments with words that began with the sixth and fourteenth letters of the English alphabet, that he didn’t want to risk getting his car or his person injured by the people who were hot-rodding.

I immediately took a liking to the chap as a fellow noncomformist. Like me, he wasn’t there with a club and while there were other Dodges at the event, it was the only Neon.

Whatever differences people had, a good time seemed to be had by all, apparently contrary to what some had predicted. A couple of weeks after the show, while leaving my credit union, I thought the lettering on the back window of a Dodge Charger in the parking lot looked familiar. The owner was standing next to his car, talking with someone in an adjacent parking spot. “Were you at a car show at 8 Mile and Van Dyke?” I asked him. “Yeah. They said we couldn’t do it in the D, that there’d be fights and trouble, but we proved them wrong.” The closest thing to trouble that I saw was the jawing between the Neon ACR guy and the members of the Camaro club and that was a mostly friendly display of male faux aggression.

I go to lots of car shows. It’s a job, but someone has to do it. Seriously, though, I get to attend a lot of top shelf events. The Concours of America is right up there with Pebble Beach and Amelia Island, and the Detroit Autorama is arguably the most prestigious  custom car show in the world. I think it’s a safe guess to say that none of the cars at the Concours or in the front part of Cobo Hall where the Autorama organizers put the best cars at their show are daily drivers. Most of the cars on display at those events are rarely driven objects of cost-no-object builds or restorations. It’s also a safe guess to say that the folks who enter the Concours or the Autorama don’t love their trailer queens any more than the folks at an impromptu shopping center parking lot car show love their daily drivers.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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24 Comments on “A Gathering of the Automotive Tribes. The Last Car Show of the Season....”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That GP in the first photo looks to have had a hard time in life. If I saw a gathering like this, my first thought would not be “car show,” for right or wrong.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      As a Detroiter, I am here to tell you your feelings are mostly correct. If you see a bunch of non-classic or non-new cars lined up at an 8 Mile and Van Dyke parking lot, driving by is the best plan. A better question is why are you at 8 Mile and Van Dyke? Did you want to visit the Ram Truck plant nearby?

      Also, if there are a bunch of Hatchetman stickers on everything, stay away. Beware of the Juggalos.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Thank you for this validation. I would do the same thing in any bad area of Cincinnati, but you’re unlikely to see such a gathering in the daytime – I think.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          A distinct difference Detroit has from other major cities is the vast amount of vacant space. I think zombies may make parts of the City of Detroit better. At least someone would be walking around.

          This gathering was at a post retail apocalypse strip mall that is 3/4 empty all the time. You can see trouble coming from 300 feet away.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Dude you sound like my grandparents would in 1950. Hoodlums.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          Your grandparents were pre-PC Americans and were free to call dangerous trash dangerous trash.

          • 0 avatar

            Pete what makes you think the people in the photos are “dangerous trash”? Looks like some some guys and gals who are into their cars, to me.

            I guess I’m what you derisively call PC, but I find the racial and religious prejudice in your comments offensive.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            *sigh*

            Dave M’s comment was a response to Corey’s initial comment about his appropriate wariness of any public gathering in a post-apocalyptic Northern industrial city.

            Have you ever lived in a post-apocalyptic Northern industrial city? Not briefly visited, lived.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            larry-

            It has nothing to do with the racial makeup of who is there. White, black, brown, purple, it doesn’t matter. It has to do with the fact that in 2012, 1 in 8 people that lived in the 48205 zip code were a victim of a violent crime. That just down the street from where this get together took place.

          • 0 avatar

            “Have you ever lived in a post-apocalyptic Northern industrial city? Not briefly visited, lived.”

            No… I was born in the socialist paradise known as the Southside of Chicago, and lived much of my life there, I am still a Chicagoan but now on the Northside.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            What bball says.

            Unlike the proto-plastic Bakelite, trash permits molding in any color and is most abundantly found in post-apocalyptic Northern industrial cities.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          One is wise to avoid one of the areas in Detroit with the highest rate of car jackings. Especially if you are unfamiliar with the surrounding area. That side of town goes from scary to exceedingly dangerous in sub half mile incements.

          There are plenty of places I would suggest people visiting Detroit go see. The area inside the border of 94 to 8 Mile and Mound to Kelly is not one of those places. Two out of the ten most dangerous zip codes in the country are inside that border.

          Ronnie’s visit to this gathering is a positive sign that good things are happening over there. I’m glad he shares these experiences with us.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      Impalas, Crown Vics, and Chargers? I’d be thinking “What are all those cops up to?”

  • avatar
    VoGo

    Thanks, Ronnie,
    Another great article. You don’t need to be a millionaire to show your love for cars.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    We used to have meets like this for 4th gen (1990-1993) Honda Accords all the time. There is a forum for them so we would all get off our computers and meet up. Good times, made a lot of friends from that.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    In Lynnwood, Washington on Fridays they have a meet at 196th and 44th if the sun is shining. You’ll see everything there from amazing classics to semi-beat ricers. It is an “unofficial/official” car show that on a warm summer night can fill almost 1/4 of the massive parking lot there.

    It is a great show to stop at, walk in to the grocery outlet for a bottle of Coke and an ice cream, and wander around. There is something raw and organic about it.

    Exotics at RTC is probably one of the best cars and coffee in the country if not the best, but there is something almost sterile about it as it has grown. This is, to the author’s point, a show dedicated to weekend toys and European iron.

    I love going to RTC – one or twice a year – because I find that the same cars are front and center over and over again.

    The great thing about these more random cars and coffee events is that between the kids that love their cars with every bit of passion, you can sometimes find gold. An ’89 Ford Probe GT that has been well restored, if not “riced” out a bit. I saw a Chevy Eurosport a couple of years back that although was a God awful car, looked like it came out of the showroom. And every now and then a real classic shows up.

    In Lynnwood yes there are some consistent people that show up (and the Mustang owners are a bit of buttheads who like the Camaro guys in the story above, don’t like interlopers pulling into their line) but overall what you see each week changes radically – and that is cool.

    • 0 avatar
      honda_lawn_art

      Right on, we have the same thing here in Aurora, CO at Hampden and Tower; every Friday if the sun is shining (always is).
      Met a man with a ’62 Galaxie; first new car he ever had, took his wife out for their first date in it, brought all his kids home from the hospital in it. Dude’s only owned like 5 cars ever and still has most of them; he’s not even really a “car” guy, just a sweet old man who takes care of things.
      I can pass up a $50,000 chromed out Chevelle ordered out of a catalog without a glance but I love talking to people who have interesting stories and oddball cars.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Great stuff Ronnie…Car guys, everyone one of them. I used to go to the Firebird lawn show, down in Saratoga NY. Same sort of crowd. We had a blast showing the 6cyl rag top we had at the time.

  • avatar
    3Deuce27

    Nice report, Ronnie, on a gathering of real world auto enthusiasts. We have something similar here in GP at the DQ, an all-season show on every Friday night, weather permitting.

    The nice thing about our local show is, that projects or future projects and daily drivers can come and be part of it. People put out their folding chairs, chat with friends and visitors, and show the kiddies all the different types of vehicles. Last Friday we had everything from a 37′ Buick 4dr Rat Rod beater to a new Aventador. This type of show allows people to bring out their less then perfect vehicles and not be ridiculed by the car snobs.

    It’s also a place to exchange info or even find a lead on a part you might need, or who does what, locally, in the car building, restoring, engine building businesses. And for me, a great many photo ops, and we always bring our latest finished shop project which often leads to another project for the shop.

    Thanks for the post, and the girlz were pretty.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Just about every model as an enthusiast group associated with it now, and I can dig that. The internet has really done wonders in bringing like-minded people together. The Detroit area has such a diverse group of auto-clubs that it’s not hard to find a meet like this on any given nice day. I mostly frequent the traditonal hot rod groups, the typical dream cruise crowd and the uhm competitive street driving meets, but any car gathering is positive for our pasttime.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Also, I do not approve of what the Neon driver did. If he’s so worried about getting his car banged up, don’t come.

    Parking facing the wrong way and with the wrong brand of cars is not adding to the spirit of the event.

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