Thundering back into Milwaukee, Autorama returned for the 52nd annual World of Wheels. The premier winter showcase of American-made hot rods and custom classics, World of Wheels is a family friendly event for gearheads of all ages.
Situated in the Exposition Center at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, the World of Wheels is an annual automotive event featuring an arsenal of classic vehicles from yesteryear America. Car enthusiasts and professional drivers from around Wisconsin and the midwest have descended upon Milwaukee to show off their rides. A short walk down any of the aisles at World of Wheels will reveal everything from a heavily customized ’32 Ford Coupe or factory standard ’55 Chevy Bel Air to a World War II era Harley Davidson and a late model stock car.
Though many of the vehicles featured in World of Wheels are factory standard or bought pre-customized, many of the vehicles on display are the work of their owners. Car Clubs such as Hooligans, Road Devils, Losers, and Drifters pride themselves on not only owning and displaying a vintage vehicle, but having built them into their present form. Much of the showroom space belonged to these clubs, and their entries were some of the best.
Bringing six perfectly restored classic American muscle cars from the 1970’s and earlier, the Drifters Classic Car Club was one of the largest clubs to grace the event. Though they featured a Dodge Charger among their ranks, the most impressive car on the Drifters lot, if not the entire show, was Tony Latona’s custom 1964 Chevrolet Chevelle. Nicknamed ‘The Kraken’ for the colorful and heavily detailed portrait of the legendary beast emerging from the ocean on the trunk lid of the car, the Kraken is a beast of a muscle car.
Formed in 2011, the Drifters Classic Car Club is a dedicated group of car enthusiasts with an affinity for custom muscle cars. With no dues or required meetings of their members, the Drifters have few restrictions for prospective members. Drifters President Bobby Jacobs clarified these restrictions.
“We’re trying to stick with American muscle cars only. We were going to stay with ’78 and down but a lot of people have the Monte Carlos and the new Challengers. So we do have a few of the newer stuff too. If they’re modified, not a problem,” said Jacobs.
Just down the aisle from the Drifters was another of Milwaukee’s larger car clubs, the Losers. Formed in the spirit of fun almost 20 years ago from a group of friends with a shared interest in cars, the Losers is one of the oldest and largest clubs at World of Wheels with an estimated 50 to 60 members and 16 cars on showcase.
Like the Drifters, the Losers are dedicated to just having fun with their club. No dues or meetings are required of their members, nor are there any restrictions to their club. Gary Weber of the Losers explained how to join the club.
“We don’t go out looking for members. A lot of guys come asking how to join our club. I just say, are you breathing? Are you a loser? Just like that,” said Weber with a chuckle.
After spending the better part of the day walking the aisles, wading through crowds of likeminded spectators, and staring at cars, one thing is evident; the classic car enthusiast and his/her vehicle can be broken down into two categories respectively: the lone hobbyist or car club enthusiast, and factory standard or modified. When it comes to having a passion for classic cars, there’s no wrong way one takes to the hobby. Whether they enjoy riding alone in a factory standard ’67 Mustang or cruising to a car show in a heavily customized ’64 Chevelle, they’re all united in a hobby that has been going strong since the first automobile rolled off the assembly line.