Our Favorite Classic Car Shows in Michigan

Here Our Favorite Classic Car Shows in Michigan


Detroit Autorama - Detroit, Michigan

Closing out the winter in style is our favorite classic car show the Detroit Autorama.

One of our favorite parts about the Detroit Autorama is the Ridler Award. The Ridler Award started out in 1964 at the Detroit Autorama and has grown to be one of America’s most highly coveted awards regarding custom classic car builders. This annual award is given to a truly world-class vehicle. In fact, this award has a very strict “never shown before” guideline. The builders who win this award

Since its debut at the 1964 Detroit Autorama, the Ridler Award is one of the country’s most prestigious automotive awards that concerns custom classic car owners and builders. Given annually to an exceptional vehicle that falls under strict “never been shown before” guidelines, the folks who win this prize become members of a very elite group.

Who was Don Ridler?

Don Ridler was a very competitive man and excelled in athletics in high school and then at Michigan State University. His many achievements eventually landed him in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. After college, Don coached Lawrence Tech’s basketball team and served as Athletic Director in the ’40s. After games, Don would contract entertainment such as Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller for dances. During this period, Don also produced the Michigan State Fair Grandstand shows and handled public relations for horse tracks in the Detroit area. In the 1950s, the producers of Autorama decided they needed promotional help to take the event to the next level, and turned to Don Ridler.

With the help of Don’s creativity and professionalism, car enthusiasts flocked to the Coliseum at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to see some of the wildest hot rods that cruised the streets of the Motor City and were entertained by acts such as Little AnthonyThe Imperials, and The Big Bopper. Don Ridler passed away in 1963 at the age of 54. It was immediately decided that an award be created to honor his memory. Don’s forté had always been his creativity. Therefore, it was decided that the award would honor individuals who are equally creative in building cars. The award, geared to honor new creations, is only eligible for cars shown for the first time.

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Woodward Dream Cruise, Michigan

The Woodward Dream Cruise actually started as a small fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan. In August 1995, Nelson House and a group of volunteers looked to relive and recreate the nostalgic heydays of the 50s and 60s, when youth, music, and Motor City steel roamed Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway. That year, 250,000 people participated—nearly ten times the number expected. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, the Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe—from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. North American cruisers from California, Georgia, Canada, and all points in between caravan to Metro Detroit to participate in what has become, for many, an annual rite of summer.

Driving from Drive-In to Drive-In

Ted’s, Totem Pole and The Varsity, Hollywood, Wigwam and Suzie Q’s, and, of course, Big Boy are old-time drive-ins and restaurants that dotted Woodward Avenue were the places to see and be seen during an era remembered perhaps most famously by Hollywood in American Graffiti and Happy Days. These locations were the turnarounds, stopping points, and social hangouts for the cruisers of the era.

Michigan’s first drive-in was located near Square Lake Road in Bloomfield Hills. Ted’s Drive Inn became a hangout and one of the avenue’s most popular destinations. It had begun in 1934 as a lunch wagon/trailer and was known for being “the world’s largest hot dog,” priced at 35 cents.

The Totem Pole opened in Royal Oak in 1954 and featured a 16-foot totem pole hand carved by the Ojibway Chief White Wolf of St. Ignace. The restaurant introduced the “Teletray,” a 2-way speaker through which customers could order the popular Big Chief Burger.

Little Known Cruise in Shoes

The Woodward Dream Cruise has a relatively unknown annual Cruise In Shoes™ 5K Fun Run/Walk. The run/walk takes place the same day as the 26th annual Woodward Dream Cruise. The run/walk typically begins at 7:30 am on Yorba Linda Blvd, continues with a rare opportunity to run on historic Woodward Avenue, winds through several Royal Oak neighborhood streets, and finishes at Shrine High School.

Woodward Dream Cruise Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Woodward Dream Cruise?

The Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day celebration of classic car culture that attracts over 1 million visitors, and more than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special interest vehicles.

When is the Woodward Dream Cruise?

The Woodward Dream Cruise takes place each year on the third Saturday in August. The 26th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise was held on Saturday, August 15, 2020. It runs between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Is there a cost to attend the event?

There are no fees to cruise in the event or to watch. Anyone can participate although, those not driving a classic car are asked to stay out of the two right lanes nearest to the curb.


Back to the Bricks Car Show and Cruise - Flint, Michigan

This annual multi-day extravaganza typically begins on Tuesday with “Bricks Flicks,” a family-oriented party at the nostalgic US-23 Drive-In theatre on Fenton Road. During the main event week, excited crowds line the streets for the “Rolling Cruises” as the parade route stretches from the “red bricks” of Saginaw Street in downtown Flint to the city of Grand Blanc. On Friday, there will be a car show, concert, and dance party with a Motown theme.  

Thousands will stroll the brick streets on Saturday to admire vehicles of every age and description, take pictures, buy souvenirs, and enjoy the fun. Beginning with the Opening Ceremony, you will want to be there to experience the excitement, see the amazing car show, check out the automotive vendors, and taste the delicious food that is synonymous with Back to the Bricks®, one of the best Classic Car Events in the Nation.

Wednesday brings the ROLLING CRUISE and begins with a ribbon cutting ceremony on the picturesque grounds of the Mott Estate. Collector cars are invited to line up in front of the mansion on a first-come, first-served basis. Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the parade route stretches from the historic “red bricks” of Saginaw Street in Downtown Flint through Burton and Grand Blanc Township to the City of Grand Blanc, as thousands line the streets to see classic cars and vehicles of every description. Vehicles can join or leave the cruise AT WILL anywhere along the route in both directions.

Car buffs have another opportunity to watch or participate in the 2nd Day of the Rolling Cruise on Thursday, August 15th. Burn-outs and alcohol are strictly prohibited during the Rolling Cruises. The Mega Site at Saginaw & Hemphill has a DJ, sponsor displays, automotive and food vendors, and Back to the Bricks® merchandise. Local bands perform at the North Mega Site on the corner of Saginaw & Fifth Avenue.

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St. Ignace Car Show - St. Ignace, Michigan

This annual event is one of the largest all-make, all-model shows in the country.   Contests, exhibits, vendor booths and more make this a fun, family event.

Chances are if you’ve never been to the St. Ignace Car Show Weekend, you know someone who has. It’s a rite of passage and a tried and true Michigander experience. Each year St. Ignace works to make the Car Show weekend even better than the year before. They have a new 4 day format (Thursday through Sunday) so one can enjoy Antiques on the Bay show on Thursday (all cars must be original and at least 25 years old or older), Cruise Night Thursday evening followed by a Drive-In movie sponsored by Kewadin Casino, Down Memory Lane Parade on Friday, and the BIG SHOW on Saturday with sponsors including Pilot Transport and more.

Kids zone, live music, beer tents, awesome food, plenty of shopping, and over 800 pristine vehicles for your viewing pleasure. If you want to bring a car be sure to pre-register online to take advantage of the Early Bird package with reduced registration rates and a Thursday Gift Package packed with over a $50 of discounts to be used Thursday only, including discount Mackinac Island Ferry tickets.

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Chrome and Ice Car Show - Flint, Michigan

This annual event, sponsored by General Motors, has grown to be a three day event. One of the highlights of the show is the stable of super cars capable of speeds well over 200 miles per hour. In addition, there are more than 125 classic cars on display.

One the least known facts about the Chrome and Ice Car show is the VIP experience whose proceeds help support the Back to the Bricks Youth Scholarship Fund. Tickets to the VIP experience are reasonably priced and include general admission to the car show and live music entertainment. There is also a complimentary adult beverage, gourmet hors d’oeuvres in the Blue Line Room, and scrumptious deserts. In addition, the VIP experience also includes by free parking, a lanyard, complimentary coat check, and a vote for the best cars. This is an excellent way to enjoy a truly memorable event and help a worthy cause.


The 2020 Ridler Award Winner

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a classic car show?
    A. A classic car show is an event that showcases vintage and restored cars. These events provide an opportunity for car enthusiasts to view and appreciate classic cars from different eras, makes, and models.

  2. Are classic car shows only for car owners?
    A. No, classic car shows are open to everyone. Whether you own a classic car or not, you can attend and enjoy these events.

  3. What types of cars are usually on display at classic car shows?
    A. Classic car shows usually feature a variety of vintage and restored cars, including muscle cars, hot rods, sports cars, and more.

  4. Can you buy or sell cars at classic car shows?
    A. Some classic car shows may have cars for sale, but this is not the primary purpose of these events. The focus is on showcasing and admiring the cars on display.

  5. Are classic car shows family-friendly?
    A. Yes, many classic car shows offer activities for children, making them a fun outing for the whole family. However, be sure to check the event details beforehand to confirm if children’s activities are available.

  6. Do classic car shows happen all year round?
    A. Most classic car shows in Michigan take place during the summer months, from May to September. However, some events may take place during other times of the year.



Michigan is a haven for classic car enthusiasts, with a plethora of events showcasing some of the most beautiful and rare cars in the world. From the iconic Woodward Dream Cruise to the prestigious Concours d’Elegance of America, there is no shortage of classic car shows to attend.

These events provide a unique opportunity to view, admire, and learn about vintage and restored cars, as well as meet fellow car enthusiasts. Whether you’re a car owner, collector, or simply an admirer, be sure to add some of our favorite classic car shows in Michigan to your must-visit list.

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