What Is the Woodward Dream Cruise?

There’s been quite a bit of buzz about the cars seen at the 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise after the event took place in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Over 1 million people look forward to the classic car event each year, but there are bound to be folks out there that haven’t even heard of it. So what is the Woodward Dream Cruise car show and why is it important?

2021 McLaren 765LT supercar in orange driving on the road towards the camera is an example of what you can see at the Woodward dream cruise.
2021 McLaren 765LT | McLaren Automotive

The Woodward Dream Cruise is the largest one-day automotive event in the world

an orange 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Cop parked in front of a brick wall
1969 Chevrolet Camaro Copo | Chevrolet

This annual event draws approximately 1.5 million people and around 40,000 cars. Spectators and exhibitionists alike travel from faraway places like Germany, Russia, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. There are also plenty of North American visitors that come for the Woodward Dream Cruise. 

Traveling from the Pacific coast and the Southern U.S. region and everywhere in between, people come to either see some awesome cars or to drive their own down Woodward Avenue. Canadian drivers hail from the far north. The Detroit metropolitan area, also known as “Motor City,” is the perfect site for such an event. 

Enthusiasts gather with American classic cars, exotic supercars, unique JDM cars, and virtually every other automotive segment you can think of. The event was canceled last summer, so this summer was a particularly exciting year. Eight lanes of vehicles from just about every year, every make, it’s a car lover’s dream––which is why so many people return each year. It’s also why the pilgrimage is lovingly referred to as the Woodward “Dream Cruise.” 

“Other parking lots were occupied by high-class events, with neatly parked show cars and well-dressed people sipping martinis while peering through the windows of timeless classics. But the main show was Woodward itself, with four lanes (per side) of endless hot rods, JDM tuner cars, American muscle, and exotics,”

Car and Driver

It started as a fundraiser

According to the Woodward Dream Cruise website, it all started as a fundraiser to raise money for a soccer field in Ferndale, Michigan. The story goes that back in August of 1995, Nelson House rounded up some folks to volunteer their time for an important cause. The idea came from the desire that this group of people had to reenact the “nostalgic heydays of the 50s and 60s, when youth, music, and Motor City steel roamed Woodward Avenue, America’s first highway.” 

Organizers predicted that the event would draw somewhere around 25,000 participants. However, that first year the Woodward Dream Cruise drew about 10 times more than expected. In 1995, the first Woodward Dream Cruise included approximately 250,000 people. Since then, the event takes place annually and continues to draw a large group of both spectators and participants. 

What cars were at the 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise? 

The 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise came back after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Attendees of the driving exhibition can expect to see a range of vehicles. Classic American cars like the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 to JDM favorites like the Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R. The cars take a historic route along Woodward Avenue, cruising amongst a sea of eye-catching models.

Car and Driver reports that more joined the fun, in addition to 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 and Nissan R34 Skyline GT-R. 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise participants drove others like super low rat rods and a Porsche 911 Touring. The Corvette C8 3LT with the Z51 package made an appearance, showing off its red interior and orange exterior paint. 

Others like the McLaren 765LT and a range of Ford GT models made the legendary pilgrimage through Motor City as well. Cadillac wagons and a pieced together Daytona Charger dubbed “scraptona” drove the route as well. As with previous years, the 2021 Woodward Dream Cruise did not disappoint fans in terms of variety or quality. With so many cars on one day, you’re bound to see a little bit of everything.

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