Detroit in August. Hot streets, hot cars, and no shortage of gawkers lining the sides of Woodward Avenue during the annual Dream Cruise.
All that iron. All that muscle. Wall to wall desirability. Well, not quite. The Dream Cruise remains an inclusive event, meaning every proud owner of something he or she feels is unique and exciting and rare has a chance to let it all hang out.
What follows is our picks of the rear guard. The oddballs. The head-scratchers. The secretly-desirable-but-we-don’t-want-to-admit-it vehicles. Oh, and there’s an extra-special Oldsmobile surprise at the end.
As you can see from the zoom, this erudite-looking Isuzu VehiCROSS owner wasn’t too happy to see our photographer. That’s okay — it was just nice to have a second setting sun join the one already casting a late-day glow on the onlookers.
Who doesn’t spend most of their day talking about the late-1980s Suzuki Alto Works RSX? Good luck finding someone who doesn’t.
Did someone order safety and acrylic panels? This Bricklin SV-1 has both in spades, along with an AMC or Ford V8 and a brief Canadian history.
Not the most popular vehicle at the time, but given the surge in bland, four-door crossovers these days, don’t we all pine for a first-gen Isuzu Amigo? Especially one with teal lettering?
There’s always room for Edsel, unless we’re talking about Ford Motor Company’s lineup in the late 1950s. The ’59s, arguably the prettiest to emerge during the 2.5 model years of Edsel production, included this Ranger two-door sedan.
A solid early-80s Buick Electra limousine, popular with executives looking to appear budget-conscious (but who wouldn’t be caught dead in a K-car-based LeBaron limo).
A rare drop-top example of Chrysler’s most famous and well-respected car, improved (if such a thing is possible) with the addition of purple paint.
Front-drive sports cars, if indeed they’re deserving of that title, proliferated in the ’80s. Charging out of Chrysler Corp. during that heady decade was this Shelby-tuned, Omni-based Dodge Charger GLHS.
As you can see, we’ve reached the reward section of this trip down oddball lane. Yes, that’s a 1978 Oldsmobile Starfire with the desirable Firenza package, which adds rallye suspension, a front air dam, rear spoiler, and flared wheel arches to a Monza-shaped package.
Built from 1975 to 1980 in Quebec and Ohio, the Starfire shared its front-drive underpinnings with the Pontiac Sunbird, Chevy’s aforementioned Monza, and Buick Skyhawk. This example dispenses with the standard (85 horsepower) Iron Duke four-cylinder and optional 3.8-liter V6 in favor of a 5.0-liter V8, mated to a four-speed manual.
In the lean late 1970s, this was as hot as the domestic compact class got — at General Motors, anyway. Competing with the GM compacts was Ford’s Mustang II, available in 5.0-liter V8-powered Mach I guise.
This owner certainly did an admirable job maintaining his Starfire — a task made all the more difficult by Detroit’s build quality and interior finishings, which weren’t exactly at their zenith during the Carter era. Take a good long look, as the owner apparently has no plans to sell this time capsule. Yes, our photographer inquired.
[Images: © Vincent Massimino, Adam Tonge]