Forget the Eclipse - Here's the Other Woodward Dream Cruise Cars Deserving of a Little Love

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Detroit in August. Hot streets, hot cars, and no shortage of gawkers lining the sides of Woodward Avenue during the annual Dream Cruise.

All that iron. All that muscle. Wall to wall desirability. Well, not quite. The Dream Cruise remains an inclusive event, meaning every proud owner of something he or she feels is unique and exciting and rare has a chance to let it all hang out.

What follows is our picks of the rear guard. The oddballs. The head-scratchers. The secretly-desirable-but-we-don’t-want-to-admit-it vehicles. Oh, and there’s an extra-special Oldsmobile surprise at the end.

As you can see from the top photo, this erudite-looking Isuzu VehiCROSS owner wasn’t too happy to see our photographer. That’s okay — it was just nice to have a second setting sun join the one already casting a late-day glow on the onlookers.

Who doesn’t spend most of their day talking about the late-1980s Suzuki Alto Works RSX? Good luck finding someone who doesn’t.

Did someone order safety and acrylic panels? This Bricklin SV-1 has both in spades, along with an AMC or Ford V8 and a (very) brief Canadian history.

Not the most popular vehicle at the time, but given the surge in bland, four-door crossovers these days, don’t we all pine for a first-gen Isuzu Amigo? Especially one with teal lettering?

There’s always room for Edsel, unless we’re talking about Ford Motor Company’s lineup in the late 1950s. The ’59s, arguably the prettiest to emerge during the 2.5 model years of Edsel production, included this Ranger two-door sedan.

A solid early-80s Buick Electra limousine, popular with executives looking to appear budget-conscious (but who wouldn’t be caught dead in a K-car-based LeBaron limo).

A rare drop-top example of Chrysler’s most famous and well-respected car, improved (if such a thing is possible) with the addition of purple paint.

Front-drive sports cars, if indeed they’re deserving of that title, proliferated in the ’80s. Charging out of Chrysler Corp. during that heady decade was this Shelby-tuned, Omni-based Dodge Charger GLHS.

As you can see, we’ve reached the reward section of this trip down oddball lane. Yes, that’s a 1978 Oldsmobile Starfire with the desirable Firenza package, which adds rallye suspension, a front air dam, rear spoiler, and flared wheel arches to the Monza-shaped fastback.

Built from 1975 to 1980 in Quebec and Ohio, the Starfire shared its rear-drive underpinnings with the Pontiac Sunbird, Chevy’s aforementioned Monza, and the Buick Skyhawk. This example dispenses with the standard (85 horsepower) Iron Duke four-cylinder and optional 3.8-liter V6 in favor of a 5.0-liter V8, mated to a four-speed manual.

In the lean late 1970s, this was as hot as the domestic compact class got — at General Motors, anyway. Competing with the GM compacts was Ford’s Mustang II, available in 5.0-liter V8-powered Mach I guise.

This owner certainly did an admirable job maintaining his Starfire — a task made all the more difficult by Detroit’s build quality and interior finishings, which weren’t exactly at their zenith during the Carter era. Take a good long look, as the owner apparently has no plans to sell this time capsule. Yes, our photographer inquired.

[Images: © Vincent Massimino, Adam Tonge]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • 71charger_fan 71charger_fan on Aug 22, 2017

    I want that GLHS. I test drove one back in '87 but couldn't afford it at the time. I've had a carbureted Shelby Charger and it was a lot of fun. But that GLHS was genuinely fast, especially by '80s standards. Seems like everything makes that much power or more now, 175hp in a four cylinder was a lot at the time.

  • THX1136 THX1136 on Aug 23, 2017

    @71charger_fan: My brother had one along with an earlier Shelby. Got to drive his one time. I had an 84 Shelby Charger at the time and the clutch on the GLHS "felt" weird to me. My brother explained that it was a "turbo clutch" - I suspect meaning it worked differently in light of the car being turbocharged. I never investigated it further so I'll never know unless one of the B&B cares to explain. I liked my 84 and his GLHS was nice, feeling comfortable. Not sure when he sold it as he took care of it like he was going to keep it a long time. I would still like to have one in brand new condition. It was a fun car to drive.

  • SPPPP Too much individual choice in that program, maybe?
  • Eric I would like one of each, please. But make that a '641/2 Mustang and a 1970 240Z
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Funny comparison:
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Some insight.
  • Amwhalbi I know this is apples and oranges, but I'd rather have an Elantra N, a Jetta GLI or a Civic Si than either the Mustang or the Z.