The Weirdest Cars We Saw at the 2019 Woodward Dream Cruise

These things are definitely wacky and wild—and we love ’em for it.

Frank MarkusWriterSteven PhamPhotographer

Whether it's an upside-down-and-backwards van (2017) or a wrought-iron wicker Beetle (2018), the annual Woodward Dream Cruise serves as the perfect gallery for displaying the latest masterpieces of America's most creative automotive artistes. This year, more than a million patrons of the automotive arts were treated to a T-bucket skull-mobile, a rolling bowling pin, a gigantic shopping cart, and a whole lot more.

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BJ's Wholesale Club Shopping Cart

Late Friday, MotorTrend's Detroit Editor Alisa Priddle caught the first glimpse. "I think I saw a giant shopping cart!" she said. It was far on the other side of the boulevard and she was driving, so there was no photographic evidence, but this immediately became our great white whale. Our gotta-have. This year's equivalent of the upside-down-and-backwards GMC Rally van we sought out in years past.

We set out Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to stalk Woodward in search of our prey. At about 9:30, we had our first sighting. It was northbound, we were southbound, and it took us an excruciating eternity to get through the lights, turn around, and head back north. But about 20 minutes later, we spotted the high-rise hot-rod shopping cart, and even lucked out getting stopped alongside it at a light. Built from scratch with a 350 Chevy engine for power, the driver sits up where the kiddoes go in a real cart. The chassis and engine look like textbook T-bucket hot-rod fare, with a superstructure of gray steel tubing on top. The motivation behind this masterpiece is promotion of Massachusetts-based BJ's Wholesale Club (a Sam's Club/Costco competitor), which is opening two locations in the Detroit metroplex in late 2019. Pretty effective advertising!

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Name This Car!

It's darned infrequently that we encounter a car we've never seen, so when it happens, we circle the block and pull in to find out more. This one, it turns out, is from Brazil. It uses a rear-mounted Volkswagen engine and VW wheels, and is based on a shortened VW Brasilia chassis. Yes, it's Brazilian. This 1989 Puma AM4—signifying it was built after Alfa Metais Veiculos purchased Puma in 1988—is powered by a VW 1600 engine. One of only 43 total AM3 (coupe) and AM4 (roadster) models built, it's a rare bird. This one has covered just 3,400 miles, and the owner is willing to part with it for $14,000.

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The GoBowling.com Pin Car

There's a T-bucket chassis and 400-hp, 302-cubic-inch V-8 somewhere deep inside this rolling bowling pin. It was created to build awareness of and enthusiasm for the recreational sport of bowling and was inspired by an original bowling-pin car built in the late '30s on a Ford chassis. If you missed it here, you can catch it September 18-20 in Richmond, Virginia, at the Professional Women's Bowling Association championship. Or call up Ace and Gary, we suppose.

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Skele-T-Bucket

Many T-bucket hot rods look alike. How do you differentiate yours? Build yourself a cockpit that looks like a giant skull and put red lights in the eyes. We drove by later and noted that the owner had installed a skeleton in the driver's seat. Creativity is king on Woodward!

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1958 RanchEdsel

Brand enthusiasts are forever righting their favored brands' errors of omission by creating variants that look cool but don't have a sound business case. In this case: an Edsel pickup truck based on the Ford Ranchero. The front-clip sheetmetal and trim bolt on pretty easily, as do the taillamps. Then there's just a bit of patching holes for Ford side trim and sourcing rear side trim from a two-door Edsel Roundup wagon to complete the look. This owner then saw fit to lower the suspension. Pretty cool.

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Self-Immolation Truck

This crazy loud hot-rod truck was caught plying the Avenue sans front clip or mufflers, from the sound of it. You can see that the exhausts empty out right at the doors; you can't see that each one has a couple of spark plugs for operating the uber-important flame-thrower function. The system clearly works, as it has seared the paint off both doors. Also please note that a couple '59 Cadillacs gave their taillamps for this beast.

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Saws, Scythe, and Boar's Head Truck

We're not sure what kind of reaping—grim or otherwise—this thing is designed to do, but check out the circular sawblades bolted to the wheel centers, the scythe mounted above the rear window, and the taxidermied boar's head mounted out back. Other notable touches include the license-plate-clad pickup box and the bushel bags decorating the tailgate and door inner (one for California potatoes, the other for Jamaica Brand cannabis).

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Amphicar Ducky

We just had to include this shot of an Amphicar rolling in the Berkley CruiseFest Classic Car Parade (with propellers spinning). Note how the giant rubber duck's expression suggests he's dubious as to whether this thing could even keep him safe in the water . . .

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C7 Stretch Corvette Limo

We're not sure how many people can crawl through those back doors and into whatever seating is provided behind those super-dark windows, but it's a sure bet that once ensconced they'll be able to get to their bachelorette party in plenty of time to catch the cop-stripper act. (We're guessing our Drift This colleagues wish they'd picked this as their stretch-limo drift challenge-mobile).