Auto Eye Candy

Autorama Detroit offers gearheads the chance to indulge their custom fetish

If you love custom cars as much as I do, you would sell a kidney just to make it to an Autorama event. Produced by Championship Auto Shows, the folks who organize SEMA, the indoor event is held annually in a dozen different states and two Canadian provinces. And since each state features different exhibits, Autorama enthusiasts are known to travel to multiple shows per year.

Hagerty attended the 2014 Detroit Autorama last March, held at Cobo Center, and like any successful show, it gets bigger every year. The automotive eye candy is astonishing, and it doesn’t take long for your brain to go into informational overload. The lighting in the rooms sets off custom paint jobs perfectly, and unlike many outdoor events, every photograph captures the essence of each car precisely.

Autorama Detroit honors custom work with the famous Ridler Award. The award distinguishes the most unique creations, and only cars being shown for the first time are eligible. Among the finalists this year were a 1933 Ford five-window coupe, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS/SS and a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. Hot Rods by JSK displayed their 1932 Ford four-door sedan, which rolled in with impeccable chrome. But the winner of the 2014 Ridler Award was JF Customs’ glowing-yellow, twin-turbo 1964 Buick Riviera, a car so customized they call it Rivision.

In addition to the cars, the show included silent auctions, a toy show, celebrity meet-and-greets and live music. This year’s silent auction raised $43,000 to benefit Leader Dogs for the Blind. An escalator on either side of the building led to an easily recognized old-car smell, confirmed by the display of select rat rods and traditional hot rods on the lower level. There, legendary customizer Gene Winfield worked his metal magic at the Chop Shop.

If you go to Autorama, plan to attend all three days of the show. The action, events and eye candy are just too much to cram into a single day. Learn more at

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