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Chrome is Still King at AutoRama

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

If it’s February in Dallas or Milwaukee, then it must be time for AutoRama. For car enthusiasts across the country, this annual homage to performance mods and custom sheetmetal serves as the perfect antidote to zero degree temps (see Dallas in the week before the Superbowl) and/or chest-high snow. And for both the proud owners and AutoRama attendees, it’s a chance to rekindle a romance that often precedes sports or girlfriends.

In Dallas, the O’Reilly Auto Parts AutoRama made its 51st appearance. And the AutoRama recipe – like your favorite barbecue or KFC – remains much the same. According to Bob Larivee, CEO of Championship Auto Shows, “with a large, strong car culture, and enthusiasts having a true appreciation of the hobby, it’s the perfect place to celebrate everything automotive.” And while ‘everything’ may be an overstatement, the assortment of featured vehicles was more varied than the AutoRama tag would suggest.

AutoRama’s target demographic is as wide as you want to make it. Local car clubs will exhibit everything from the ubiquitous Mustangs and ‘Vettes to an Alfa Romeo 8C coupe. A traditional rod and custom exhibit, presented by Ol Skool Rodz, is so old that it’s new again. And the Roswell Rod, whose design and build were inspired by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, is displayed in bubble-topped splendor.

Individual exhibits in Dallas included Toyota dealer Pat Lobb’s ‘62 Chevy Bel Air, propelled by 409 cubic inches of V8. At the other end of the technology spectrum is Charles Nearburg’s “Spirit of Rett,” a Bonneville streamliner which holds the land speed record – 414.4 miles per hour – for a wheel-driven car.

If you like mid-’50s nostalgia, look no further than to a Junior Conway recreation of the 1950 Coupe. Junior Conway first swept floors for George Barris, Hollywood’s Kustom Kar King, before painting Barris’ custom creations over the next decade. During this mid-’50s period, Conway obtained a Ford coupe and did what any red-blooded SoCal kid would do in terms of mods, only Junior did it better. Fort Worth resident Jerry Daman was inspired to build a tribute replica, and this one shines.

AutoRama isn’t, to be sure, for men only. Ronda Mason owns – and races – an ‘07 Dodge Charger SuperBee, while on the other end of the performance spectrum is Sharon Neve with a ‘61 Beetle convertible dubbed ‘George’. The VW is a thorough restoration, and within the modified fusion that is AutoRama it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.

Celebrity appearances will vary by location. In Dallas, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are a perennial favorite, but probably wouldn’t play well in Milwaukee. Retired WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels is scheduled to appear, as is Debby Ryan, whose starring role as Bailey Pickett in the Disney kid’s show The Suite Life on Deck, put her on the celebrity map.

With all of the above, at AutoRama the car remains very much the star. And you needn’t be ‘into’ cars to enjoy this automotive assemblage. AutoRama gives attendees the chance to see for themselves a collective passion equaled only by its creative application. It is a rolling automotive art museum, and if you live in a metropolitan area it’s probably rolling near you.

The shows head next to Detroit and St. Paul on February 25th, Chicago and Salt Lake City on March 4th, and Des Moines on March 11th. More info can be gleaned from the AutoRama website at www.AutoRama.com.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Chrome is Still King at AutoRama - Autotrader