The Detroit Autorama, March 6-8, 2009
Norm attends many shows but this
years Detroit Autorama was very special.
Ron Kregoski unveiled his new Kookie clone and it is nice, really nice. Ron commissioned Reno Rod & Custom in Oklahoma
City, OK to build the latest clone of Norms famous car. Ron was very clear about the goal for the project. Accuracy was the paramount concern for the build
team. In the end the car is clearly a
paramount success. Ron wanted to have the
best clone of Kookie ever built. This is a
notable task because several clones exist and are very good. It is easy to build a car inspired by
the Kookie car. It is not too difficult to
build a car that looks a lot like the Kookie car. Building a true clone that could be
the Kookie car is a major undertaking.
Johnnie Overbays team at
Reno Rod & Custom began with the task of gathering one of the best libraries of Kookie
car documentation around.
Knowing that none of the
preexisting clones perfectly capture Norms build, it was decided to not use clones
as a source of details. Another issue was
selecting a snapshot in time of Norms car. The
original Kookie was not a static art form. It
evolved through many detail changes while in its original owners care. Norm was contacted in October of 08 and he
provided some input to help fill in the blanks. He
also agreed to join the car for the unveiling at the 09 Autorama. Norm had heard good things about the cars that
Reno Rod & Customs builds. If there had
been doubt about the teams ability, Norm said that he would not have agreed to
participate in advance of the cars completion.
The first thing Norm said when he saw the car was:
"Its a lot smaller than I
"Oh wait this isnt
Rons car, its the new Danbury Mint Kookie Car."
Rons car speaks for itself.
If you think its easy building a clone, try coming up with a ROTO-FASE ignition.
In addition to the new Kookie car clone many famous friends had the chance to hook up with Norm.
Barry Meguiar was taping at the Autorama. Were betting Barry realizes that every time he and Norm get together, Norm seems to have his hand out
Chuck Vranas stopped by the
booth to chat and shoot a few photographs. He
is a master of words and images. If you are
not familiar with his work you must be new to hot rods.
It will be a treat to see the results of Chucks efforts at this show.
Darryl Starbird was honored at the event as Builder of the Year.
is one of the greats in our hobby. Norms
News would run out of space if we tried to list all of Darryls accomplishments. At the luncheon he was asked to limit his speech
to 10 minutes. We were fortunate that he
exceeded the time limit and wished he had kept talking.
He has recently produced a book highlighting his career (Darryl Starbird -The
Bubble Top King). It is a worthwhile
addition to any automotive library.
Dave McClelland, Bob Larivee, Jr. and
Builder of the Year, Darryl Starbird.
From center stage to Norm and the
Kookie clone booth. Dave McClelland and
he brought THE VOICE. Too Cool.
Legend and 2008 Builder of the
Year Gene Winfield was on hand too. Spending
time with both Winfield and Starbird at the same event is enough to render most car guys
speechless. Of course Norm is no normal car
guy so the conversations were not one sided. Gene
asked Norm to attend an event at his place. Just
the thought of Genes paintwork in the desert sun should make you squint. Dont count on sunglasses to protect you,
bring a welding helmet if you value your vision.
And dont forget to add Genes book (The Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene
Winfield) to your hot rod library.
Steve Tracy took a quick break at the
booth. If youre lucky enough to have
components from Pete and Jakes then youre familiar with quality chrome
plating. Steve is the man who makes much of
it happen. His face is not one that
everybody knows but the metal finishing from Advanced Plating (www.advancedplating.com)
can be found at most gatherings of top quality cars.
Some of Norms projects feature chrome from Advanced Plating. This is not some shameless plug. This is just recognition of first class service
Dan Webb brought two of his cars. The Wedge and the Sub share an impressive trait. They are both combinations of functioning
automobile, art, detail and stunning execution. Once
again Dans ability and dedication has pushed the limits of automotive art. The level of detail, fit and finish is
beyond description so enjoy the photos and then realize the cars look even better in
person. A lot of press has been devoted to these cars and for good
reason. If Dan received a dollar for every detail, the Stimulus Package would
be too small to fund his creations.
Featured speaker and automotive
authority Ken Gross with Neal East stopped by to say Hi to Norm. Both Neal and Ken were on stage during the awards
luncheon. Neal received The
Preservation Award and Ken was the events Guest Speaker.
Neals historic roadster was on
Norm has always said that he likes
listening to Wings Kalahan ( www.hotrodradio.com )
but Norm added that he'd prefers to LOOK at Mary.
"Grabowski is going to try
to fit in the T, I need a picture of that."
"Hey Wings you're looking a little thin. They've got burgers right over there, grab a few for me while you're at it."
Wings is no dummy, he knows that Norm
has had over 50 years of fame based on a picture of him sitting in Kookie and wolfing down
some food. With Mary by his side, this photo could get Wings elected to office
and not just Governor of Minnesota either.
More Burgers, QUICK!
Looks like Wings didnt grab
enough burgers. Johnnie Overbay knows better
than to be too close to Norm during a feeding frenzy.
Lydia (see Wheres Norm? Little Rock October, 2008) was not in Detroit but
she still stayed in touch with Her Man.
In addition to all the celebrities, there where more than a few cars to enjoy at the show.
Whether clones, original or restored it
felt great to stand near this gathering. The
Kookie car a few feet from the Kopper Kart, the Hirohata Merc and the Ala Kart with the
real Grabowski and Barris too. Put these
ingredients together at a car show and it is difficult to pin down a decade, somewhere
between the 50s and today.
Little known fact: Norm once made a beer run in the
Kopper Kart. One can only wonder if only
empties made it back to the shop at the conclusion of the run.
The fresh Orbitron not only looks great
its features function too. Dave Shutten gives
Norm an overview of the remote controlled capabilities.
Roth should be pleased.
Of course there were more examples of
Big Daddys ahead of the curve work at the show.
Factory Five Racings kits do well
at shows. They provide the starting point for
some great cars. Some are built to race, some
for street but many are built to show standards. This
one placed first in class.
Double Trouble probably can
exceed the double nickel in under two seconds.
The 60s and early 70s had a
certain style, love it or not, its a definite style.
Car Craft was once a small magazine. Its pretty big now.
Race car engineering mated to show car
esthetics produced quite an offspring.
Norm is a fan of chopped tops. There was a diverse group to enjoy this year.
As expected nice Vettes were on
display, this trio includes a 67, 68 and 69.
Vettes werent the only attractive
Chevrolets at the show.
Too bad the ICE TRUCK
stayed home, we could have had shakes.
Muscle cars then, now and hopefully
Some feel that a Ford pickup is the
perfect compliment for their Harley. This
pair shares more DNA that just an emblem.
It has been said that the 59
Cadillac is an example of where Detroit got it wrong, we think its an example of
where they got it right.
Just another candy apple red 1998 GTS
Viper, until you look close. The paint
includes a subtle pair of stripes made up of an army of Sneaky Petes (the first generation
Vipers snake logo).
Sitting on a differential with a few
thousands horsepower flowing through is one definition of courage, maybe madness too.
If they all looked like that, Sears
would be selling them today.
Arriving at the show Norm was excited
to see this sign,
four hours later he saw a sign he
liked even better.
Combine a car show, concert and a hockey game all at the same time for some slow moving traffic.
Thanks for spending some time with Norm
and a few highlights from the 2009 Detroit Autorama.
Hope to see you soon where the cool cars gather.
P.S. One friend shared a
poem she wrote about Norm and the Kookie car. Heres
Cathys work in her own hand: