The third Saturday in August in the Detroit area is always a dream come true for auto enthusiasts, as that’s the date for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise, which is billed as the world’s largest one-day celebration of hot-rod culture. Press estimates routinely put attendance at more than a million people, along with above 50,000 vehicles, and because the emphasis here is on classic American muscle, the amount of horsepower on hand is likely even higher.
One thing’s for sure: The classic muscle-car brands will be doing their best to add to that total this year, since Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge are once again taking a big part in the festivities.
Camaro Golden Anniversary
The Bowtie brand will actually be honoring at least two anniversaries at this year’s Dream Cruise. For one, 2016 is the fifth year that Chevrolet has been the presenting sponsor of the event. But more important is that 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Chevy Camaro, the company’s iconic muscle car. Now, it’s probably no coincidence, but Chevrolet has timed things so that the 2016 Camaro is an all-new model, too, and it will be a highlight at the brand’s display at the heart of the Cruise route (near 13 Mile Road and Woodward). That’s where a full half-century of Camaro history will be on exhibit, from 50-year-old muscle cars from the heyday of cruising to the Camaro ZL1 and 1LE that won’t hit public roads until later this year.
The ZL1 is the supercar of Camaros, backed by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that’s capable of releasing 640 horsepower and 640 pound-feet of torque. As for what the car can do with that power, Chevy reports quarter-mile times of 11.4 seconds and the ability to run from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. In other words, the Camaro ZL1 is more than half a second quicker than a Porsche 911 Carrera S. And while this new Camaro is equally capable on the track – thanks in part to standard Brembo brakes and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires – Chevrolet’s other special-edition Camaro also knows its way around a race course.
The 2017 Camaro 1LE will be configured in V6 and V8 trims, providing significant suspension upgrades to both, and this will put the results in perspective: In testing on the main track at the Willow Springs International Raceway in California, the V8-powered Camaro SS 1LE was three seconds faster per 2.5-mile lap than a standard Camaro SS.
Mustang Alley Makes History
Ford country can be found toward the southern end of the official cruise map, at 9 Mile Road and Woodward, which is home base for Mustang Alley. Always very popular with cruise-goers, the annual Alley gathering hosts about 1,000 Mustang owners from around the world, and this time, for the first time, registration has been completely filled. To be clear, the public is still welcome to see this incredible selection of Mustangs from the past 50 years. It’s just that so many people have signed up to show off their cars that there’s no more room for parking.
There will be space nearby, however, for the rest of Ford’s current performance lineup, including the latest models for not only the 2016 Mustang, but also the next-generation Ford GT. The new GT is a supercar among supercars, with a recent class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans under its belt and a tightly limited production run that will kick off later this year. Indeed, as is the case with Mustang Alley reservations, all units of the 600-horsepower Ford GT have been spoken for, leaving plenty of demand unfulfilled. Catching one at the Dream Cruise may be as close as most folks will ever get to one.
Dodge Brings ‘Roadkill Nights’ Back to Life
As the brand behind legendary muscle-car names like Challenger and Charger, Dodge also continues to get behind the Woodward Dream Cruise. That includes a return to the main Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles display, opposite the big Chevy exhibit at 13 Mile and Woodward, along with a starring role at what should be one of the most exciting events leading up to the Cruise.
Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge returns to set up shop in the city of Pontiac, still on Woodward but a few miles north of the main route, to serve up street racing on a specially prepared ⅛-mile drag strip. The cars literally will run on a closed-off section of Woodward, legally, with some 350 drivers registered to compete. Needless to say, that filled the racing bracket, and the action should fill the purpose-built bleachers as well.
But there will be more to see, like a massive, Dodge-focused display of hundreds of cars, plus food trucks, live music and thrill rides. Also worth checking out is the site itself: the M1 Concours. A playground for enthusiasts, the M1 Concours project covers more than 85 acres of a repurposed General Motors manufacturing facility, and it offers collectors condominium-style garages, some climate-controlled, along with its own road course and skid pad.
2016 Woodward Dream Cruise Details
The 2016 Woodward Dream Cruise is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, on a suburban section of one of Detroit’s main roads, with the core route stretching for roughly 7 miles—on Woodward Avenue from 8 Mile Road in Ferndale to Maple Road (15 Mile) in Birmingham. In between will be a wide variety of pop-up car shows, from both clubs and the automakers, and cruisers will be showing off on the avenue the whole day. Expect a friendly, carnival-like atmosphere, right down to the incredible range of great rides.