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Woodward 2011: Chrysler Takes Over 13 Mile Road

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author photo by Jean Halliday

Chrysler Group once again took over a large parking lot at Woodward and 13 Mile Road for its massive display at metro Detroit's annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

The location is the hottest, most congested spot along the 15-mile route for the world's largest one-day car show of classics. The automaker not only had 23 historical vehicles on display, but 19 production vehicles, a Fiat display, 8 Mopar models, online photo giveaways at the Monster Truck "Raminator," two live bands, t-shirt giveaways and Mopar race-car simulators. Visitors who followed directions on a big placard could go to Twitter and tweet to try to win an "Imported From Detroit" t-shirt.

The muscle cars of seven Chrysler employees were part of the show, chosen by the automaker for their historic significance and condition.

A 1969 Dodge Comet Super Bee, sporting the original window sticker of $4,415.15, was getting a lot of attention. Owner Joe Ventimiglia, who works for a local auto supplier, said he and his buddy found the car - a rusting heap - in a Michigan field in 1981.

His buddy only wanted the engine, but he wanted the rest because he knew it was a rare car - one of only 92 made. Ventimiglia said he had to do a lot of research to get the window sticker, but managed to track down the Chicago dealer who originally sold the car and still had it.

Ventimiglia personifies the type of person who comes to the Dream Cruise- an aficionado of classic cars, especially Detroit metal.

Although he hadn't cruised Woodward in his Comet because it needed to be on display for a couple of days, he and his wife Becky did cruise earlier in the week in their 1970 Roadrunner.

"I'm just partial to Chrysler products," said Ventimiglia. "At the race track the Dodges were always overpowering." The couple have two garages- a detached four-car building and a 2.5-car attached one.

Lynn Miller was more than happy to talk about his displayed orange 1971 Dodge Challenger R/T convertible with a 318 Mopar Magnum engine. He said it's one of 2,165 produced and the second and final year of the convertible. The resident of nearby Rochester, Michigan, said he had spent 12 hours with the car at the display the day before the cruise.

Miller bought the car in 1993 and recalled driving it in the first Woodward Dream Cruise in 1995. "It was 100 degrees, but there was very little traffic so nothing was overheating," he said. "Now it's gotten a lot bigger and crowded."

But he really likes the Dream Cruise because "it's like a trip back in time," he said. "Every car you've ever seen you'll see here and it makes you feel young again.
 Around 5 p.m. a severe thunder and lightning storm blew across the area, scattering the crowd and cruisers. The high winds toppled trees, several landing on parked classics, mangled tent canopies and knocked over garbage cans and lawn chairs. For the first time in the cruise's history, police shut it down early for safety reasons after an electrical power transformer about half-a-mile from Chrysler's display got hit and power lines were downed. But within a couple of hours the cruise was reopened and the classic cars and onlookers were back.

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Woodward 2011: Chrysler Takes Over 13 Mile Road