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"Muscle Cars", August 1, 2012

Woodward Dream Cruise Survival Guide

Make the Most of the World’s Largest One-Day Car Event

By Cole Quinnell

We were there for the first Woodward Dream Cruise in 1995 and have been back for plenty more since. During those years we have learned that to get the most out of this enormous event, you better have a plan. It’s easy to get lost in the more than 40,000 cars that participate and the 1.5 million people strolling up and down Woodward Avenue and the side streets. We’ve compiled a few tips that will help you avoid waiting in line for an hour for a really bad hot dog and take home memories of a great time rather than a hospital bill for heat stroke.

The best place to start is to understand what the Woodward Dream Cruise is. It takes place every year on the third Saturday in August, and it extends along 16 miles of Woodward Avenue. While most of the cruising and street racing during the muscle car heyday was centered around 13 Mile and 14 Mile roads in Royal Oak, this event now stretches from 8 Mile Road in Ferndale to the northern part of what locals call the Wide Track Loop around the city of Pontiac. There isn’t a fee or process to participate; just show up and cruise! Or you can park and walk. There are more than a dozen parks and parking lots full of cars, and each would make a decent car show by itself. Chevrolet, Chrysler and Ford nearly always have corporate displays scattered up and down the cruise, as do many aftermarket companies.

Our first tip is to turn the one-day event into a several-day visit to the Motor City. The Dream Cruise is officially on Saturday only, but cruising in the evenings is hot every night of the week leading up to the big day.

There’s way more to do around Detroit than just see the action on Woodward. Spend a day or two at the Henry Ford Museum, which is chock-full of American Industrial Age history with a bent toward the automobile. Next door at Greenfield Village you can ride in a Model T that sputters down the roads surrounding the original workshop of Thomas Edison, the garage that Henry Ford rolled his first car out of, and the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. You can also tour the Ford Rouge Factory at the Henry Ford. F-series trucks are built there, not Mustangs, but a tour of an American assembly plant should be on every auto enthusiast’s bucket list. About 30 minutes north of Detroit you can spend a few hours at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum, on the same grounds as the impressive Chrysler World Headquarters and tech center.

On the day of the cruise, we like to arrive early. (See “Our Perfect Day at the Woodward Dream Cruise” sidebar for a schedule that we have found works well.) Some people like to bring lawn chairs and camp out on the sidewalk to watch the endless parade of cars. Others prefer to walk sections of the route and check out the parking lots and parks. Whichever method is your style, go prepared and travel light.

This year will be the first time Muscle Car Review will have a presence at the Woodward Dream Cruise. We will cohost the Week on Woodward (WoW) Road Tour with our friends at Street Rodder magazine. WoW features a week of daytrips staged from two Detroit-area hotels starting Saturday, August 11. On Friday, August 17, and Saturday, August 18, we will be on the cruise route in Royal Oak. Hopefully you’ll join us for some of the fun during the week!


Duggan’s Irish Pub



Henry Ford Museum (and Greenfield Village)



Walter P. Chrysler Museum



Woodward Dream Cruise


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