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This year's Detroit AutoRama was interesting for two reasons. The show itself was great, but the journey to the show came close to being slightly more memorable.
I left London Saturday morning around 10 AM with a light dusting of snow falling. It was quite pleasant, there was little to no accumulation of snow in the city, and I expected an easy drive. In fact that was not exactly the case which became abundantly obvious as I merged onto the 401 West. Sideways, I might add. The massive snow and ice buildup at the end of the on-ramp which tossed my car sideways under a transport truck should have been enough of an omen for me to turn around, but I decided to press on as the highway was "clear enough". Incidentally, an Insight will fit underneath a tractor-trailer. Conditions turned quickly. By the time I was half an hour out of the city, there was several inches of snow on the highway and traffic had slowed to 30 KM/H. It was a complete white out and only the tail lights of the truck I was following kept me on the road. The trip to Windsor at 30 KM/H where the visibility is zero is indeed a long one, long enough that my bladder was the limiting factor. About half way I decided a rest stop was in order, and the decision as to turn around or not was running through my head as well.
As I pulled into the service station the sinking feeling of being stuck shot through my brain. You know that situation when no matter how you manipulate the clutch, throttle and gears, the car just keeps slowing down? Yep, that's about what happened. Of course it was just at the end of the exit ramp into the parking lot of the service station. Exiting the car, it was quite obvious why my horizontal velocity had slowed so dramatically; I was driving in twelve inches of snow. Yet perhaps 5 feet beyond my current location, the snow was packed slightly and probably passable! I ran into the service station for help but was informed by the "highly trained" staff that it is not, in fact, their responsibility to clear the parking lot. Well then, who exactly is in charge of clearing the parking lots of Ontario's service stations? According to them, no one! A few choice words later (most having 4 letters) I was back at my car, digging myself out with the small military shovel I keep in the trunk. Half an hour later and I was slowly making my way across the rest of the parking lot.
Once again on the highway, the rest of the journey was as uneventful as it could be in these conditions. I rejoined the line of slow moving traffic and continued creeping towards Detroit. After all, half way is the same distance home and to the show. Aside from a few close calls with the shoulder, about 50 KM of travel under 20 KM/H and seeing nothing but white, I hit Windsor at around 3:30 PM. The "I almost died" count was at "2" (one more and I would have had to give up). If you're counting, that's 5 hours since the time I left London. By 4:45 PM I was finally walking through the front doors of the show.
The pictures speak for themselves. It was a wonderful year for the AutoRama, but as I was physically drained from the trip my heart just wasn't in it. I'd have to say my favourite display was the Ferrambo. Who would have thought that the combination of a Ferrari F360 drivetrain and a Nash Rambler would have worked so well? Incidentally, it won the Ridler Award for 2008. Aside from that, I noticed a marked increase in the use of forced induction over massive engines. Though I really, really wish that "hot rod guys" would actually learn a little about turbochargers so that when I ask them "What are the specs of that turbo?" they can reply with something other then "It's 80MM". It was also nice to see a modified RX-7 on the main show floor. While the rotary has been represented before, it's generally a few slightly less then stock FDs in the basement next to the Civics.
I stayed as long as my stamina would allow, leaving around 9PM for a quick dinner in Windsor and then spent the night at a hotel. It was late Sunday morning that I left for London in quite a hurry as I didn't want to be late attending Monster Jam with my Mom. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.
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