The second biggest car show held in Detroit's Cobo Hall suffers a bit by comparison with the North American International Auto Show in terms of the lighting and poshness of the displays, but the vehicles are equally interesting -- if you can appreciate automotive artistry applied ex-works. Autorama is one of the premier events at which to display customized cars and -- to an increasingly large extent -- trucks. Here are seven of our favorite restored, resto-modded, and all-out 'rodded trucks fresh from the show floor of the 2010 Autorama.
1971 Ford Baja Bronco
One of the coolest trucks at Autorama was this one-of-100 Bill Stroppe-prepared Baja Bronco. Shortly after the Bronco's introduction in 1966, Bill Stroppe started modifying it for off-road-racing. By 1971 Stroppe Broncos had won the Baja 500 and 1000 races and helped launch several desert-racing careers. On January 28, 1971, Ford announced it would offer a limited-production version of Stroppe's Bronco. The Sport Bronco wagons came from the factory painted in Stroppe livery: metallic blue roofs, Wimbledon white around the greenhouse, poppy red below the greenhouse, and a matte or semi-gloss black hood. They were then shipped to Long Beach, California, where Stroppe trimmed the front fenders and flared the rears to clear the Gates Commando XT tires. Other upgrades included dual shocks at each corner, a padded roll-bar, rubberized steering wheel, front bumper braces, a trailer hitch, and Baja Bronco logos on the tire cover and fenders. If ordered, Stroppe would also install Saginaw power steering (Chevrolet parts!) and a C4 automatic--power steering and an automatic were not otherwise available together from the factory in '71 and '72. This example was lovingly restored by the current owner, Jack Niederkorn of Elmhurst, Illinois. For more info, www.bajabronco.com
1935 Ford Pickup "Bronze-Coated Beauty"
This gorgeous pickup was modified by Gene Winfield in 1961 to advertise his custom shop. It features a 3.5-inch chop, lowered suspension, and is powered by a bored and stroked '48 Mercury flathead breathing through a tri-carb setup. The body was originally painted in 28 coats of candy bronze lacquer. It was featured in the October 1961 issue of Custom Rodder, and the March 1963 Custom Craft, and then disappeared in 1965. Rediscovered in 2008, it has been restored to its original glory by Hatfield Restorations.
1980 Dodge D-50 Project 6-Pack
Nothing quite captures the essence of Autorama like an utterly over-the-top project like John Farr's super-slammed convertible six-wheeled 1980 Dodge D-50. The Mitsubishi-built D-50 was probably only sold as a Dodge in the U.S., but the Project 6-Pack features right-hand drive. Power comes from a 1996 LT1 small block V-8 mated to a Turbo-Hydramatic 350 and 3.11 gearing. The front of the bed is largely consumed by a Livin Loud stereo with 30 Kicker Speakers powered by 7000 watts of Kicker power. Pass the earplugs. We love the low-rider long-wheelbase bike in the bed too. For more info, www.project6pack.com
Divco Milk Trucks
What could be more fun than a perfectly restored period-correct Divco milk truck? Two of them. Parked together, and displayed with plenty of milkman paraphernalia were a light-duty 1948 Divco, and a heavier-duty dually 1965 model. The Divco truck was built by the Detroit Industrial Vehicle COmpany and its successors from 1926 through 1986, and utilized the same basic design for its entire life (only the VW Beetle was produced in essentially the same form for longer). For more info, www.divco.org
1950 International stake truck
We admire the way this truck's bodywork has remained largely unchanged, while raking the suspension and painting it Prowler Orange lends plenty of attitude. Power comes from a 372 Dart engine with a 6-71 blower and nitrous injection. The rear axle is a narrowed with HRP 9-inch carrier gears, Strange axles, and Compete Air Ride and the rims are Billet Specialties Vintecs, 4.0 x 15 in front, 15.0 x 15 in back, wearing Mickey Thompson radials. We love all the wood trim, especially the rear wing. Imagine how angry any air hitting that wing would be after flowing over and around that upright cab!
1942 WWII Jeep Warrior
A plaque near this slick black V-8-powered Jeep proclaimed that it was built by David R. Sellers in tribute to all members of the U.S. Armed Services past and present who have made it possible for him to pursue his dreams. We especially love the star-spoke wheels with their five-star hubs.
1936 Ford Australia Ute
Way before the Ranchero and El Camino were glimmers in the eyes of their Yank Ford and Chevy designers, the car nose and cab with a pickup bed concept was well established in Oz, albeit often with some vestige of a back seat. This one started life as one of 118 Australian Ford Utes built in 1936. It was found in derelict condition, missing most of its parts after several failed restoration attempts. Then it was shipped to Gerald's Hot Rods in Indiana and transformed into what you see now. Power comes from a GM 454 crate motor making 502 hp, mated to a 5-speed 700 R-4 transmission.