Woodward Dream Cruise: Classic Car Confessions

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Woodward Dream Cruise

Vicki joins Shant in his 1967 Datsun Fairlady (credit: Vicki Briganti)

Vicki Briganti – CW50 Writer / Producer / Editor

Here’s my confession: I didn’t go to the 18th annual Woodward Dream Cruise. Since the weather was spectacular, I bet the 1.35 million auto fanatics that did had a memorable day.

Even though I wasn’t there on Saturday, living in Royal Oak, the cruise affects me. Unless I hightail it out of town or don’t leave my house for a week, I’m hard pressed not to see a smattering of vintage vehicles around town. I was caught in the pre-cruise traffic on Woodward on Wednesday night. I was rubbernecking, trying to catch a glimpse of tricked-out cars already packing the parking lots on both sides of the street.

Oh, yes, from August 13-18, you experience the WDC. Using my mental GPS, I had to plot a strategy on Friday night to get from 11 Mile/Franklin in Southfield to 14 Mile/John R in Troy…without crossing Woodward. For anyone who has the same GPS, you know this is impossible. The fastest route, I determined, would be to take I-696 East to Campbell Hilton to 13 Mile to John R. Even mapquest.com doesn’t factor in Coolidge’s closure for the Berkley CruiseFest or the Campbell construction at 14 Mile.

Another confession: I like the idea of the cruise, but I don’t like the traffic congestion. I also don’t understand classic car enthusiasts. Who are they? Unless you’re retired or live at home with your parents, how do you find the time, the extra cash, to work on car(s)?

On any given summer weekend, there are many social activities. Plus, you have to mow the lawn. Fertilize. Weed. Figure out why the electricity to the pond pump stopped working. Worry about the sewer backing up. Visit various mattress stores and wonder if you’ll ever own a mattress that doesn’t hurt your back. Wait, that’s my life not yours. I don’t even have kids or pets. What if you add young kids to the busy mix? Kids need food. Baths. Constant supervision. All I could think cruise-wise was: Who has time to baby a classic car?

Datsun

Shant with his 1970 Datsun 240Z (credit: Vicki Briganti)

Shant Finds Time

I consulted Shant, a Datsun die-hard, father of three, and husband of my supportive friend Erica, for answers to my WDC confusion. His impressive Datsun collection includes a 1967 Roadster, a 1970 240Z, a 1970 510 Vintage Race Car, and a 1972 510 Sedan.

VICKI: How do you find time to work on your cars?

SHANT: With a family, it’s certainly very difficult. In my case it has to be task oriented. For example, this week I’m going to install the new intake and carb setup I’ve had on the shelf for a year. I try to find time after the kids go to bed and in one-hour blocks. I find that if I commit to getting in the garage an hour each night while I’m trying to complete a project, things move along quickly.

VICKI: Is it expensive to maintain your cars?

SHANT: You know, it’s all relative. I have 25 years of experience with Datsun’s. I accumulate parts from ebay.com as others are unloading them and at a time when I don’t need them and they are priced at a fraction of the typical going rate. That way when I need them for a project I have them and I don’t have to pay higher prices because I need it at that exact moment. The biggest cost saving comes from staying in a realm of cars I know well and working on them myself. If I had to pay for someone to build or service my cars, I’d have one car in my garage instead of four.

VICKI: What do you like about the Woodward Dream Cruise?

SHANT: The dream cruise has evolved into the largest spectator driven automotive event in the country. The thing I like most about it is in the weeks prior to the cruise day. The evenings are filled with the cruisers beginning to gather at different locations and new friendships are being forged over a common passion. I’m sure other hobbies and passions have similar events, but for me, I’m glad this event is here in Detroit and in my backyard. I can participate at will every night.

The time, money, and attention folks like Shant invest in their treasures must be worth the effort, reflected in the neatly trimmed, painted, polished, and restored cars parading up and down Woodward all week. Despite the inconveniences on the roadway, it does make you feel proud to live in the Motor City, doesn’t it?

>> More Motor City Musing With Vicki Briganti

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