Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Well, The Cars Have Muscle

Mark Yost writes about where America's automotive get up and go has got up and went in today's Wall Street Journal (sub req):

Many come to this leafy suburb outside Detroit every August for the Woodward Dream Cruise. It's one of the last places on Earth where low fuel economy, high octane and raw horsepower are still celebrated with a rare combination of exuberance and reverence.

Best described as the world's largest rolling muscle-car show, the Dream Cruise has been held on the third Saturday of August for decades. But locals know that it really begins as soon as the snow melts. That's when unabashed muscle-car enthusiasts open up the heated garage and take the tarp off of their 400-horsepower steel chariots. These cars are labors of love for many. They scour eBay and small-town auctions to find them. Viewed more broadly, the cars, with names like Chevelle, Mustang and Hemi 'Cuda, are reminders of the days when Detroit actually made cars with some sense of styling and git-up-and-go under the hood.

Woodward Avenue is the grand boulevard that runs the length of Detroit, from the bombed-out shell of the inner city to suburban Pontiac and beyond. But during the third week in August, the stretch from about Eight Mile Road northward becomes a scene straight out of "American Graffiti," George Lucas's 1973 homage to California's Car Culture and the muscle cars that defined it. There are other classic car shows, but this is the one where car owners come to cruise and be cruised.

Like most work by Mr. Yost, it's down to earth, interesting, and well-written. My only qualm comes with this bit:

And so it went. I walked about eight miles here, but could have gotten all the material I needed for this story in about a block and a half.

Walked eight miles? Not sure how he slipped that one by the levels of gatekeepers, fact-checkers, and editors.

JB Quips:

Weird. You mean these guys collect, like OLD cars? That's so weird. I mean, who would want an OLD car? I'm glad there is an intrepid East Coaster on the scene to make sense of these bizarre sociological activities. Like a modern day Margaret Mead, we someone to go to the native people's habitats to understand the motivations of this unusual pre-occupation and their "rare combination of exuberance and reverence" for these old cars.

And they like them fast? Again, so weird.