There’s no denying that the 65th annual Detroit Autorama started with a big bang this year. To launch the show — quite literally — a “General Lee” 1969 Dodge Charger raced along the riverfront street next to the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit and sped up a ramp and flew over the pavement, just like Bo and Luke would do on The Dukes of Hazzard television show.
The car, bearing the “01” on its doors and the Detroit Autorama logo on its rear quarter panels, was driven by Ryamond Kohn of the Northeast Ohio Dukes group. The “landing” was somewhat less graceful than those by the TV stunt team. The car sustained significant front-end damage and was displayed inside the Cobo Center during the self-proclaimed “America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show.”
Tom Wopat, the actor who played the role of Luke in the TV show, and Catherine Bach (Daisy) made appearances at the show over the weekend.
The show featured hundreds of hot rods and custom cars with judges selecting the “Great Eight,” the finalists for one of the hobby’s most prestigious trophies, the Ridler Award, named for Don Ridler, the show’s original promoter. To be eligible for the Ridler, a vehicle has to be making its debut at the Detroit event.
The finalists this year were:
- Phoenix, a 1929 Ford pickup owned by Dennis Portka of Hamburg, New York,
- After Thought, a 1930 Ford Model A coupe owned by Ted and Colleen Hubbard of South Bend, Indiana,
- The GPT, a 1932 Ford Tudor owned by George Poteet of Memphis, Tennessee,
- Renaissance Roadster, a 1933 Ford owned by Nancy and Buddy Jordan of Portland, Oregon,
- The Gold Standard, a 1941 Ford pickup owned by Ed Sears of Annapolis, Maryland,
- Heirloom, a 1949 Chevrolet C-10 pickup owned by Robby Collins of Mount Vernon, Texas,
- a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette concept tribute owned by Larry and Robbie Griffey of Powell, Tennessee
- Split Ray, a 1966 Chevrolet corvette owned by Dennis Johnson and Scott Roth of South Burlington, Vermont
The Ridler went to the Renaissance Roadster, built over a period of nearly four years by Steve Frisbie of Steve’s Auto Restorations of Portland. All hand-built and completed just days before the show opened, the car is propelled by a Chevrolet 427 V8, one of 427 examples built by Chevrolet Performance to celebrate the anniversary of the original COPO Camaro powerplant from 1969.
Photos by Margaret Hehr