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Arlington Is No Motor City

[caption id="attachment_35" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Vintage Cadillac graces Woodward Dream Cruise."]Vintage Cadillac graces Woodward Dream Cruise.[/caption]

The April issue of Men’sHealth magazine has a 1-page feature ranking the “Most Car-Crazed” cities in America. No. 1 is Arlington, TX, followed by San Jose, CA; Sioux Falls, SD; and Virginia Beach, VA. Rounding out the top five is the automotive hotbed of Anchorage, as in Alaska.

At the bottom of the list at No.96, getting an F and ranking among the “Least Auto-emotive” cities, is Detroit, followed by Philadelphia, Newark, Buffalo and Cleveland.

Of all the cheap shots Detroit has suffered over the years, this one truly hurts. And that’s because it’s completely bogus.

In explaining its selection criteria, Men’sHealth says it considered “the number of residents who used Cash for Clunkers to buy a ride with panache and power; the money spent on car audio, body work, paint jobs, and car-care products; the ratio of auto-parts stores to people; and the number of folks who read car magazines and attend car shows.”

Those all are telling indicators. Yes, people in Detroit and its suburbs are down on their luck, spending below average on “body work, paint jobs” and new vehicles, in general. For them, the priority has been putting food on the table while their employers in the auto industry navigate through bankruptcy.

But through it all, one thing that has not diminished is the region’s love for the machine it gave the world: the affordable car. Gasoline, antifreeze and 5w30 course through the veins of the Motor City, which is much larger than one town.

Just about every community from Berkley to Taylor to Rochester to Birmingham to St. Clair Shores to Ann Arbor to Mount Clemens to Grosse Pointe Shores – and of course Detroit – hosts well-attended car shows or swap meets or muscle-car festivals.

The granddaddy of them all is the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, a spectacle of vehicular worship that ropes in several communities on Detroit’s northern border and draws 1.5 million people. It’s Detroit’s answer to Mardi Gras.

The date is Saturday Aug. 21, but the diehard “car-crazy” people who have grit under their fingernails from working on their ’69 Dodge Chargers, ’63 Corvettes and ’67 Mustangs have been cruising for weeks now.

Every weekend until late August, more of them will come, like pilgrims seeking kinship and enlightenment. The closer the date draws, the farther people will drive, from Ohio, Illinois and Indiana – three other states equally jilted by Men’sHealth.

I extend an invitation to the magazine’s editors to bunk at my house the third week in August, because I live in Royal Oak at the epicenter of the Cruise. Their rankings are bound to change when roaring engines keep them up at night.

As for Arlington, I’ve never been, but I’m glad they love their automobiles there. It’s that passion that helps keep me gainfully employed.

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