Bright taillights and even brighter sunshine revved up crowds from Ferndale to Pontiac at this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.
From Dodge Hellcat burnouts to marriage renewals, the annual end-of-summer auto-fest had gearheads and people-watchers alike in awe from early Saturday morning until police ushered the cars off M-1 promptly at 9 p.m.
Picture perfect weather further enhanced the experience for a global crowd that likely topped one million.
“It’s the greatest car event in the world,” said Dennis Pendley, 46, of Plymouth. “You see everything.”
Pendley left Birmingham around 8:30 Saturday night after a full day cruising in his blue 1970 GMC pickup. He started the day at 8 Mile and cruised all the way up and around Pontiac before settling in Birmingham to watch the other cars go by.
Sights, sounds and people from the 2015 Woodward Dream Cruise.
There was something for nearly every car enthusiast to enjoy: Mustang Alley in Ferndale, Dodge Hellcat joyrides in Royal Oak and an extensive Chevy display in Birmingham.
Dodge's Hellcat-mania, an over-the-top production at 13 Mile and Woodward, was particularly impressive.
“Who says America's love affair with the automobile is over?” said Dodge CEO and certified motorhead Tim Kuniskis, the Oz behind this year's production.
It included: Thrill rides in 707-horsepower Dodge Hellcats and 650-horsepower Vipers. Drop-dead gorgeous Guess Jean supermodels from Australia and L.A. cruising the strip and handing out T-shirts. The Dodge Brothers in the flesh – played by TV ad actors Joe Coffey and Tyler Bryan - taunting the Ford and Chevy displays.
Roger Penske rented two lots north of 13 Mile to show off his 16 pace cars that he won for his record 16 Indy 500 wins. Like Kuniskis, the Captain was at the Cruise this week promoting the event, Detroit, and 12 of his drivers – including superstars like Helio Castroneves and Al Unser, Jr.
Birmingham was the scene of at least one major crime at this year’s cruise: a stolen 1966 Chevrolet Corvette. But police late Saturday said no other major incidences had taken place.
After the classic car-jacking early Saturday afternoon, enthusiasts in Birmingham were paying extra close attention to their own vehicles.
Jim Ryan, 80, of Birmingham owns a 1960 red convertible Corvette he bought for $12,500 in a cornfield in Metro Detroit in the 1980s. About $60,000 later, the Vette has won a number of local and national classic car show awards.
"It's like having a kid in college," Ryan said. "It keeps asking for more money."
Ryan said he'd like to sell his Vette and buy a new 2015 model. About a half-mile away, the new Vettes were stationed at Chevy's product display along with all its other vehicles.
Roger Hitchcock, 60, of Oxford also owns a red 1960 Corvette. But unlike Ryan, he's not as fond of the new models.
"I like to buy cars that go up in value," he said. "I don't want anything that depreciates."
Gordon and Geri Rinschler of Birmingham professed their love for each other, and for classic cars, as they renewed their marriage vows Saturday in a drive-through ceremony to applause and cheers from bystanders.
He wore a tux jacket and bow tie and she wore a light pink dress with a pink sash and veil.
Their witness? His shiny blue 1930 Ford Model A.
The Rinschlers, both 68, got married on July 6, 1968, and the same Model A was part of their wedding, as Gordon picked Geri up from a Long Island church and drove them to their reception.
"When I heard this, I thought this is going to be fun," Gordon Rinschler said.
"I wasn't sure how Geri was going to react to this, so I sort of floated it out," he added. "Then she got real excited and bought a dress. Then she made me wear my tuxedo jacket and a bow tie."
Aside from the classic car parade on the streets, scores of spectators grabbed folding chairs, blankets and canopies to nab a first row seat to the action.
Larry Fenner, 50, of Livonia and his wife Kathy found a spot on the grass along Woodward near Edward Rose & Sons, just north of Lone Pine Road in Bloomfield Hills.
“It beats sitting in the traffic jam for sure,” Larry Fenner said.
Farmington Hills resident Gregory Starks and his girlfriend, Secret Washington, normally cruise Woodward in a 1999 Porsche 944 S2. But the classic car was in the shop this year after a run-in with a rock, so the couple found a couple of folding chairs in Birmingham. They came with cherries, pistachios, drinks and other snacks.
“You have to hydrate and you have to bring a few snacks — just remember to pack her favorites first,” Starks said.
Missouri residents Gary Yager and Ken Wilson, both 71, returned early Saturday after previewing the cruise Friday.
"What I really love to do is watch the '57s, the two-door hard tops," he said. "And to just remember."
Wilson said he figures reminiscing is the main draw of the event.
"That's why they call it the Dream Cruise, I guess."