8 Glorious Engines from Detroit Autorama 2018
The Detroit Autorama brings the latest automotive technologies and generous amounts of glamor to the Cobo Center every winter, right around the time when Midwest locals become stir crazy for spring. This year’s show did not disappoint, and it gave us the car fix we needed to make it through until driving season. Everything from traditional hot rods to pro-street builds with heavily polished engines and high-power claims scattered the showroom floor. Hundreds of vehicles were on display, but no one has time to read about every single one. Instead, we narrowed it down to eight of our favorites.
1. Unapologetic Forced Induction
This Porsche-red 1969 Camaro SS is one of several cars built by Brad Gray, owner of Blow Mafia, a name that’s known for stacking power-adders. Instead of being partial to superchargers, turbochargers or nitrous injection, Gary embraces all three, and then slathers the systems in chrome.
A 468 cid big-block powers the ‘69 SS. The engine is fed by twin 68mm turbos and a 14-71 supercharger tuned to 14 lbs of boost combined, and an extra 200-shot of Nitrous for an extra kick. The total horsepower is unknown. However, we think that Gray might just be on to something.
2. It’s Not Your Average Engine Swap
Clint Hillock of Sault St. Marie spent two winters building his 1933 Ford pickup from the ground, up. When it came to the engine, he took the unbeaten path away from the LS and small-block Chevy swaps. Instead, he opted for a hot rod powered by a screaming 5.9L Cummins diesel engine. (Oh, the magnificent resounding turbo spool!)
3. Nostalgic Stands for Style
Keith Maclntyre of Binbrooks Speed and Custom built this wild yet traditional 1927 Ford Model T and hasn’t had the heart to let it go. Who could blame him? The nostalgic 303 Olds Rocket V-8 is already admirable, but the six-deuce carburetors mounted on the cross-ram manifold are what complete the iconic hot rod look.
4. It’s All in the Curves
Tony Netzel didn’t want to build a mundane pro-street Camaro or Mustang. He wanted to create something that would stand out in the middle of a sea of show cars. The intricate, sharp lines and graceful curves of this 1961 Plymouth Belvedere caught his eye, and the rest is history. The car’s 440 is driven by twin turbos, which look stunning teamed with a pair of blow-through Holley carbs and two old school long-ram Mopar intake manifolds. Netzel states that the 440 is now a “tame” 496 cid that supports around 700hp.
5. Brought To You by the Letter “B”
This chromed-out 1967 Chevy Nova is powered by the letter “B,” for blown big-block, and Bob Tackett, the lucky owner.
The custom street machine is engulfed in wispy traditional hot rod flames, which brightly contrast with the black base.
6. When Two Worlds Collide
This non-biased Ford Model A represents the best of both worlds. Its frame was stretched by 7 inches for an optimal 110-inch wheelbase, which better balances the heavy 461 cid Chevy engine. Mounted atop the big-block is a hefty 8-71 series Weiand blower and Sanderson Zoomie headers. The color-matched valve covers and the ’34 Chevy grill and dash blend the marvelous mash up to perfection.
7. Built for Speed
Forget all of the fluff. The Speed Demon is claimed to be the world’s fastest wheel-driven car with a piston engine. The twin-turbo 6.0L small-block engine setup was chosen because it's compact enough to fit in a narrow chassis that was originally designed for a 4-banger.
Three injectors per cylinder quench its thirst while the machine jets out over 2,000hp. Sure, the engine only runs for a few minutes at a time, but the rush from reaching speeds of over 462 mph is the kind of feeling that no one forgets.
8. And the Winner Is…
The 2018 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award was given to this 1957 Chevy 150 Hardtop, owned by Greg and Judy Hrehovcsik and built by Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop in Alamosa, Colorado.
Its twin-turbo 515 cid Nelson racing engine is dressed to impress, but it’s not all about the looks. The high-class sleeper is capable of over 1,000hp on pump gas, or up to 1,800 with race gas.