Nine noteworthy cars at the 2014 Detroit Autorama

Slick Johnson 1939 Ford Convertible  CustomNever mind the Great 8 for a moment. Here at Mac’s Motor City Garage, we’ve got the Noteworthy Nine. In our book, these nine vehicles at the 2014 Detroit Autorama were worth a special look. 


First, MCG has no beef with the Detroit Autorama judges or their choices for this year’s Great 8 and Ridler Award. We looked carefully at all the Ridler-eligible cars, putting aside personal preferences. In our humble and objective opinion, the judges made the right calls. Good work on a very tough job, guys. Well done.

No, our Noteworthy Nine is a totally different sort of group. These are simply nine vehicles that we think are especially exceptional and interesting—worth checking out and talking about. Detroit Autorama is much more than a hot rod show: There are great vehicles here of almost every classification, and some that defy any classification. Here are nine that caught our eye this past weekend.


1961 Ford Starliner Larry and Patty HillLarry and Patty Hill’s 1961 Ford Starliner is as clean and straight as you will ever find, but there’s a bonus feature installed under the hood: an exotic 427 CID SOHC V8. A fantasy for Ford fanatics, the rare hardtop has won a slew of show awards.


1948 Diamond T 201 Pickup Brian and Kim McCoolBrian McCool is a highly creative builder whose cars have been featured in Hot Rod magazine and at his own blog, Cool McCool’s Garage. One recent project is a rare 1948 Diamond T Model 201 pickup that Brian has updated for highway touring with late model suspension and drivetrain. He and wife Kim McCool are also into vintage camping trailers, so they set up this neat display in the Autorama Extreme basement show. In case you were wondering: Yes, they really go camping in those tiny trailers.


1937 Hudson Terraplane Sedan CJ CumarThis magnificent monster commands your attention. Owner-designer C.J. Cumar and builder Steve Lemiere stretched a 1937 Hudson Terraplane more than a foot in every direction to make it fit a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel chassis. The cabin’s interior is larger than some studio apartments. Behold the ultimate movie villain car.


1937 Ford-Miller Sprint Car Doug DeVineThis circa-1937 big car from the golden era of dirt track racing sports an Essex frame, Ford running gear, and a Ford Model B banger with Miller OHV conversion. Owner Doug DeVine believes the trim little racer was originally constructed by Fremont, OH builder Karl Behlmer.


1956 Ford Farilane Club Sedan Dan ColemanDan Coleman’s ’56 Fairlane Club Sedan abounds in fine custom touches such as flipped and shaved bumpers and sculptured taillamps. These elements strike a nice balance with the stock pieces, including the Fairlane checkmark side trim and fender badges. The paint is a deep, rich black cherry.


1941 Willys Gasser Duffy's Toy Ron MalmstenBuilt in 1967-68 by Charles Duffield of Ravenna, OH, Duffy’s Toy is a real-deal Ohio gasser. And it’s a high-end example at that, sporting pearl paint, top-grade interior and tin work, and an injected big-block Chevy with Clutch-Flite transmission. Ron Malmsten of Belleville, MI owns the period-perfect racer today.


1938 Minneapolis Moline DDLX Comfortractor Schneider Tractor CollectionIn 1938, Minneapolis-Moline introduced the Model UDLX Comfortractor, an early attempt at an enclosed-cab farm tractor. With its long hood and chopped-top proportions, the Comfortractor manages to pull off a rural GT look. This beautifully restored example, one of 40 believed to exist, belongs to the Schneider Tractor Collection in Lapeer, MI.


Slick Johnson 1939 Ford Convertible  CustomBuilt on a navy base, Slick Patterson’s ’39 Ford convertible was highly advanced for its time in both construction methods and build quality, and was featured in Motor Trend in 1951 and Speed Age in 1952. Totally restored by Roddy and Sally Moore, the historic Virginia custom is the 2014 recipient of the Detroit Autorama’s Steele Products Preservation Award. The striking paint? A 1951 Kaiser-Frazer color called Caribbean Coral.


1955 Chevrolet Top Sportsman Bob Mandell Jr.Bob Mandell, Jr. of Bob’s Pro-Fab Chassis displayed this brand-new 1955 Chevy Top Sportsman racer. A 792 CID big-block Chevy powers the all-fiberglass drag car, which features tasty air-brushed details including the grille, headlamps, and side trim.


12 thoughts on “Nine noteworthy cars at the 2014 Detroit Autorama

  1. Thanks Bill! We had a great time at the show people watching and showing off the trailer. Kim pointed out we may as well have left the truck at home, as most people walked right by it without a glance to check out the trailer. Next time we do Detroit, no trailer!


    • Hi Brian, Well, I have news for ya, I’d have checked out the “T”, for sure. Yours looks just beautiful! I had a ’49 “201”, completely stock, that I found in a junkyard in 1980, missing the Diamond T nameplates on the hood, and the wheels. I bought it for $100, and found another in a different yard, that was a milk truck, had them cut the milk truck body off, and used it as my “parts truck”. Got the original Hercules motor running, and enjoyed it for many years. Ran into trouble with my ex-wife, and was forced to sell it, but always enjoy seeing them. Mine was red also. I’m a huge truck nut, and found they have limited appeal at shows, but yours looks awesome.

  2. I was dazzled by all of the above, especially the Slick Patterson Ford. This year’s Autorama was truly amazing in the scope of cool vehicles it had to offer.

  3. This will probably make Larry and Patty Hill cringe, ( not my intent), several ( many?) years ago, I was at a junkyard in Wisconsin, and an employee was stacking cars on a flatbed trailer for their last ride to the crusher. He was on a forklift, and he’d put the forks through the side and stack them on top of one another. As I watched, his next “victim” was a ’61 Starliner just like theirs. It didn’t have a drive train or wheels, but the body was in very good shape( for Wis.)He was just about to “stab” it, when I yelled, “Hey, wait a minute”! He said, “What”? I said, ” That’s a ’61 Starliner, don’t crush it”. He said, ” You want it or don’t ya”. I said, “Well, I don’t but someone might”. He said, ” No time”, and with that, put the forks through the side. I couldn’t watch.

  4. The Slick Patterson car was built outside of Richmond, Va after Slick got out of the Navy

  5. All these pieces are exceptional, but the 56 club sedan brought back memories for me. That was my first car.

  6. All interesting. My favorite is the Starliner. The dirt car looks the part as does the Gasser. The MM tractor is different. Has potential,, 500ci, sand slicks and big wheelie bars.. Ideal for a Sat night cruise!

  7. All good stuff except the last one, the 55 Chevy. I’m sure it’s a finely engineered and made “car”. I’m sure it’s the owners pride and joy. To say it’s “especially exceptional and interesting” is simply misleading. It doesn’t even seem to fit amongst the other choices. Most cars there were exceptional and great deal of them were interesting.
    The 55 Chevy Pro Mod theme has been executed Ad infinitum. There is just nothing original in any way shape or form on or about this car. Everything on it does has been done before. Times 10. There were at least 30 other cars that were more “exceptional and interesting” objectively or subjectively. Imagine that same treatment on a 1955 “anything else” or say a 1993 Lincoln Town Car. That would be exceptional and interesting.

    • I disagree, naturally. To me the car is exceptional and interesting due to its high level of build quality and detailing, especially for a Pro Mod/Top Sportsman type car. I’m guessing you probably didn’t see the car in person as the build truly was exceptional. There may or may not have been 30 cars that were more “exceptional and interesting.” I don’t know how it would be possible to determine such a thing and that was not the point of the story anyway. For this story I deliberately chose the broadest possible variety of vehicle types–that was a key criterion for me in “exceptional and interesting.” Heck, I even picked a tractor.

      A tip for MCG readers: In list articles like these (listicles, as they are known in the biz) I deliberately avoid superlatives and rankings like best, worst, most, least, etc. This is mainly a gimmick websites use to troll their own readers — ginning up pointless and endless arguments to artificially boost their traffic. I will not go there if I can help it.

      As in this case: these were simply nine cars I felt were worth talking about, not the nine most worth talking about or the nine most anything. There really isn’t any more to it than that.

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