Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Culver's Cruise

Sadly the cruising season is winding down. But not before Culver's
of Lake Orion had it's second annual cruise this last Sunday.
More than 200 cruisers attended. The Vibro Kings played some old time music.
There are four more Tuesday nights scheduled at Culver's and most other area cruise nights.
Joe Zimmer, Culver's owner directs cruising traffic fro a overpowered 40 mph thing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ed's book review: Woodward Avenue

Anytime there is anything written about Woodward Avenue, and the storied days of cruising that historic twenty miles, there will be a select audience.  I and a few of my friends that are still living will never forget that unique time along Woodward Avenue in the 1950's. It was before the cops had radar guns and a speeding ticket was $10.00, and no points. There were no factory cars that could beat a mildly "hopped-up" hot rod. 

It was a special time for me and my friends. My parents, as most all, did not approve of the wasted time and hard earned money.  But, it was an addiction of sorts to a crazy community of would be future mechanics, and even automotive engineers.

In a new book about Woodward Avenue, Robert Genat tries to capture that special experience when gas was cheap and a Big Boy and milk shake was 88 cents. You and a gal could splurge and dine at The Suzy Q for a special chicken dinner with all the fixings and Root Beer for less than five bucks. She would later that night be the "flag girl" and conduct the more serious drag races that took place on the unfinished dark and abandoned Northwestern Highway. 

Genat has put a considerable amount of effort into the 159 pages trying to paint a picture of the dozens of drive-in diners, cars and kids, but there is a disconnect to the early times when Woodward on summer weekends was alive with the car culture of the 1950's, and at that time when the "Woodward experience" was established. 

The Woodward Avenue book does a fair job of reporting a much later time along Woodward when the factory "muscle cars" took over the cruising scene.
I felt a disconnect having known an earlier time when real hot rods ruled the strip.  There are many references to the better connected who took over Woodward in the 1960's with their Mustangs and Corvettes.  I wish that there had been more of an effort to find and interview some of the old time hot rodders, and not so much copy given to a few of the well known and connected street racers who have become well known due to some good public relations legends from the factories.

There are many pictures of a much later time along Woodward Avenue with a few reproductions of the old hang-outs like Big Town and Teds.  I can't fault the book for that because few if anyone thought to take pictures back then even if you had a camera.  The days of "greasers" with dirty finger nails and a pack of Lucky Strikes rolled-up in their tee shirt sleeve were far different than the better financed  1960's fellow in a new Dodge Charger.

Aside from that the Book is worth a read, and a proper addition to your collection of Woodward Avenue memorabilia.     

Friday, September 3, 2010

Guilty! "$150.00 or twenty days in jail"

Because there has been so much interest, and a near record number of replies to my article last week, about the Royal Oak Cops at the Woodward Dream Cruise I felt it would be a service to finish my experience in Royal Oak.

I was going about 20 mph when the rows of blue lights lit up my rearview mirror. . I had just left the little car show at  friendly Woodward-Hunter Shell Gas Station north of 13 mile. I was pulled over by two Royal Oak motorcycle police, and would be given a ticket for displaying a historic plate on my 1951 car.  I was less than a 50 feet away from the car gathering. Why? I asked.  After going over my papers I was handed a ticket and said, "We have zero tolerance for these plates.' I said, "I was at a car event and felt I was within the law."  Ticket in hand, I promptly headed for home . The two motorcycle cops proudly rode-off  seeking new offenders. The hunting was easy.

I don’t have a beef with police. I even have a couple of friends that are or are retired cops. But, when cops become bullies, ordering peaceful citizens around because they can, it gets me a little angry. And, I have found in the past week a lot of other people who feel the same way too.   

I wanted to resolve the ticket, and appeared at 44th district court a few days later in downtown Royal Oak. The case before mine was for driving on a suspended license - second offense. His option was $150 or thirty days in jail. He paid, and it seemed like it was the last of any money he may have had.

My ticket number was read aloud with my full name. I replied, "Your Honor you announced my name but the numbers don’t match. Magistrate, Ken Roy, looked up briefly at me  and said; " driving with historic plates.  "How do you plead'?  I responded, "That I would like to explain what I thought the law was and give my explanation." Without making eye contact Magistrate Roy again repeated the same charge, and, "How do you plead'? I responded again that I would like the opportunity to explain my mitigating circumstance.  "How do you plead'! By now I knew I was in a box.  A not guilty would mean another 80 mile trip to this same place, and now, thinking I would be no better off, or perhaps worse. I responded to the robed Magistrate Roy, "Guess I better say guilty, I just want to leave here now".  "GUILTY" $150.00 or twenty days in jail." Which one?"  I responded that the clerk said, "It would be $125.00." Magistrate Roy and his assistant were fumbling around in the computer. I think the assistant said to Magistrate Roy, "I don’t see it here."  He then said to her, "They don’t know they just make it up"  He looked at me and said, "I'm going to change the offense to Sudden Acceleration,  I see you have a perfect driving record." " I offered a meek response that that would go on my record to the state, and I don’t want that. He responded, "No points as this will stay in Royal Oak - the fine is the same."

I left the court room and proceeded to pay up at the kindly lady clerk's window.
A tap on my shoulder set-off all of my paranoia. It was an uniformed officer.  What did I do now; I just wanted to get as far away from Royal Oak fast.
"May I speak to you over here?" the officer said. "Sure", what else would I say.
"You should have fought that ticket."  "You could have beat it in front of a judge."
I was astounded, this Royal Oak Cop apparently took the Chief of Police Chris Jahnke orders "to go easy on things like historic plates".
 I said I felt I was within the written state law, but I have invested too much time already in Royal Oak. The sympathetic officer then went on to say, "Some of these officers are out of control." I thanked him and carefully left Royal Oak.

The Royal Oak web site says the fine is $125.00 for my newly and incorrect assigned offense . It seems that the desk clerk does "make things up".  I do not see any reference to misuse of historic plates or any fines. 

Here is the actual state law on the use of historic plates ( not the Royal Oak  Magistrate, Ken Roy's dreamed up law). 
Keep a copy in your glove box.  I can't say if it will do you any good in Royal Oak.


Michigan, automobile capital of the world, has many residents who collect and restore antique vehicles.  Since 1956, the state has allowed a special, inexpensive vehicle registration for older vehicles that are on the road only occasionally.

Many antique cars, trucks, and motorcycles quality for special registration as Michigan historical vehicles.  A qualifying vehicle may be registered with the Michigan Secretary of State wither with a Michigan historical vehicle plate, or an actual Michigan license plate of the same year the vehicle was manufactured.

A Historical vehicle must be:

-    26 or more years old - based on model year
-    Owned solely as a collector's item
-    Used only for events such as historical club activities, parades, and car shows
Note: A designated historical vehicle cannot be used for routine transportation.
My Photo
Location: Oakland County, Michigan

Ed Noble has been a car enthusiast his entire life. From the 1950s' on Woodward Avenue to writing automotive reviews for The Oakland Press Wheels page, car cruising is a summertime event he looks forward to each year. Ed will write new vehicle reviews for The Oakland Press and also provide some cruise news and other related information.

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