With the Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama canceled for 2020 and 2021, show manager, Steve Legerski, said he was excited to fill the floors of the I-X Center with 1,000+ piston-powered vehicles and welcome back more than 55,000 car enthusiasts to one of the biggest indoor classic car shows anywhere. The Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama celebrated its 56th year in Cleveland at the I-X Center, April 1-3, 2022, and with it came a lot of crazy car show engines.
The two-year hiatus and subsequent lifting of masks meant that the line to get into the IX Center stretched back to the airport. It took us more than an hour in stop-and-go traffic to get into the event on one of the first sunny days in Cleveland since last fall.
We love car shows for their weirdness and over-the-top displays. The creepy car show dolls are ever-present on engines, peeing on tires, and more. This year was no different, with a C5 Corvette roped off with Rock-n-Roll memorabilia and Kiss posters. A Jeep CJ5 with mirrors and lighting underneath, not to mention a turntable, also got the crowd excited.
But one of the show’s biggest draws continues to be the Farmtruck and AZN of Street Outlaws fame and builders of the ultimate sleeper truck. It’s a ’70 Chevy Long Bed truck with rusty paint, a camper shell, dents, and a “ZZZZZ” license plate. This year they added a self-powered camper called the Air Scream. They also displayed a supercharged big-block Caddillac dubbed Dark Roast with the blower ripped out of its hood. It holds a world record for the longest continuous burnout.
One of our personal favorites was an ‘83 Toyota Hilux mini-pickup called Zip Tie, with a powder-coated 22R EFI poking through a neatly trimmed cutout hood. The bed on the back was also a big feature as it had a sort of early van-life appeal with a bed, coffee thermos, lunchboxes and other accessories for life on the road. This one took home the trophy in the Pre-’88 Mini-Truck category.
There were some nice rides for the import tuner guys, including a Nissan 240 SX (SE Kouki version) with a turbocharged 2.4L KA24DE I4. This thing had all kinds of upgrades, too. However, we weren’t crazy about the pink valve covers, but to each their own. It had a Rev9 60-62 .65AR Turbo, a 38mm wastegate and an 85mm exhaust. It also included Nismo 740cc injectors and a coil-on-plug kit, among other updates.
There was an Amish buggy equipped with a full-blown jet engine for those from Ohio or Pennsylvania. It was insane looking, and no doubt will get the owner ex-communicated from the church! It was a shame we couldn’t see it run. We also dug all of the cool bike builds, which included some kick-ass entries from Skidmark Garage in the mini-bike category.
Another one of our favorites was the House of Mouse Racing Canadian Coronet Police Cruiser with the Hemi Hellcat swap. They combined two projects to go on the 2019 Hot Rod Power Tour. A Hellcat donor and a Cuda project got scrapped to make the ultimate cop car. They even pulled other Power Tour entrants over and issued fake citations for a charity donation. All of the lights and sirens worked. Jake and Elwood from the Blues Brothers would be so jealous!
It feels great to be back at a car show event after such a long break. And it was apparent the crowd felt the same as they stacked their way into one of the biggest indoor shows we’ve seen. We are happy to report that the car and engine enthusiast is alive and well, even if they have a creepy car show doll or two.