Delray Slim says, “When you visit the Detroit Autorama, be sure to see the Autorama Extreme show in the basement. It’s swell.”
For MCG’s Autorama main floor coverage, click here.
To see the 2013 Pirelli Great 8 finalists for the Ridler Award, click here.
MCG likes to call Autorama Extreme the Salon des Refuses of the hot rod world. Cars in primer are expressly forbidden upstairs on the Autorama main floor—it’s actually in writing somewhere—but in the Extreme show downstairs, they are welcomed with loving arms.
Upstairs on the Autorama main floor, teams of technicians in their stocking feet are aligning screw heads and running Q-tips through the panel gaps, gunning for the big trophy. Downstairs, guys are kicking back with some cold ones, enjoying the band. Down here in the basement, style points are unofficially deducted for looking like you’re trying too hard.
The Autorama Extreme show originally arose from the movement that became known as rat rodding, but they don’t call them rat rods anymore. These rodders have rejected the rat label and its connotations of scabby, unsafe cars with rubber mice glued all over them. These cars are sound and roadworthy, and you can call this the traditional, retro, or alternative rodding scene.
And for those who fully embrace it, it’s an entire lifestyle with a real indie attitude: skin art and piercings, ’40s and ’50s hair and fashion, rockabilly-fired music. The cars have a style all their own as well—check out a few of them in the gallery below.