August 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Car fans flock to summer's 4th Gratiot Cruise

Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon joins the classic car parade in a 1963 Thunderbird roadster during the Gratiot Cruise Sunday August 3, 2014 in Clinton Township. (Lauren Razzaq / Detroit News)

Clinton Township— There was a checkered flag but no revving engines or exhaust smoke — just a lot of pedaling and cheering.

The Clinton Township Gratiot Cruise opened on Sunday with the traditional pedal car race, when a dozen tiny hot rods and 1960s muscle cars manned by toddlers kicked off the parade of the real things.

“We’re probably the only cruise in the country that starts out with a pedal car cruise,” Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said during opening remarks. “This is a family event and we’re going to keep it that way.”

Sunday was the 12th anniversary of the Gratiot Cruise in Clinton Township. It’s the fourth cruise of the summer along Gratiot, following events in Roseville, Eastpointe and Fraser, and many spectators plan to attend the Woodward Dream Cruise on Aug. 16.

The parade grand marshal was Jeff Gutt, a Clinton Township singer who finished second on “The X Factor” reality show.

Hundreds of spectators, with or without classic cars of their own, lined the cruise route along Gratiot between 14 Mile and 16 Mile.

Al Busch brought out his green 1978 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon, a car he’s had for six months.

“I’ve had Chevelles, Corvettes. I’ve always wanted a station wagon,” the Clinton Township resident said.

For Busch, the Clinton Township leg of the summer Gratiot cruises is the greatest.

“We always wait for this one,” he said. “This is a lot better than Woodward.”

Mel Thomas of Shelby Township watched as dozens of muscle cars, hot rods and other custom rides raced past. Although plenty of cars caught his eye, there’s only one classic he truly loves: his 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

“I see what everybody else has, but I have the best car out there,” Thomas said of the harvest gold car with white 442 stripes. “When I was younger, I never had a nice car, so now that’s why I have this one.”
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Under the hood of a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 at the Dorian Ford dealership on ... (Lauren Razzaq / Detroit News)
Under the hood of a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 at the Dorian Ford dealership on ... (Lauren Razzaq / Detroit News)