United Road Pulls Out the Stops to Host Classic Car Lovers’ Event
When the Woodward Dream Cruise — the nation’s
largest one-day celebration of classic car culture — rolls into metro Detroit every August, you can be sure the team at Brighton, MI-based Pilot Transport (a division of Romulus, MI-based United Road) makes the most of it.
This year, Pilot Transport, which also has a facility in Phoenix, AZ, launched its first-ever Dream Cruise meet-and-greet at the less-than-a-year-old Woodward Warehouse, a membership facility for classic-car owners.
The Aug. 18 hospitality stop offered attendees a peek inside a fabulous car-storage and clubhouse facility as well as Dream Cruise shuttle rides in a couple of cars (driven by, of course, a most skilled Auto Transport driver — Ed Denery of Phoenix).
“We invited OEMs, new-product car builders, people who make parts for hot rod performance cars, finishers, painters, and those clients who have private car collections,” said Pilot Transport’s Business Development Director, Bill Hall.
Pilot Transport is a specialty-car carrier and vehicle solutions provider that operates some 85 carriers and delivers approximately 35,000 vehicles in 49 states and Canada every year. The company hauls test, prototype, show and limited-production vehicles. In a nutshell, Pilot
Transport features enclosed, secretive car hauling.
“Our name comes from the auto industry’s pilot cars, which are pre-engineering stage vehicles, called pilots, and that’s a lot of our business,” explained Hall. In fact, at the Dream Cruise hospitality event, one of the company’s slick, brand-new rigs, filled with California-bound testdrive
vehicles, took center stage outside (cab tours delighted young and old alike).
Gearing Up for a Partnership
Hall and Pilot Transport General Manager Joe Parks teamed with the Woodward Warehouse to create an ultra-memorable event for Dream Cruise attendees, customers and others. The iconic Woodward Dream Cruise, incidentally, attracts more than 1.3 million visitors annually, and more than 40,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector and special-interest vehicles. It's a sight to see for anyone into cars, whether a teen dreaming about driving a hot rod to a serious automobile
On Dream Cruise day, the Woodward Warehouse, an expansive, high-end car-storage, holding tank and maintenance facility in Royal Oak, MI, brimmed with an array of bright-and-shiny classic cars. Joining in the mix were car art paintings by Ted McLaren, an enticing buffet,
beverages, music, sunflower centerpieces as bright as the sunshine-yellow auto paint on a resident old Mercedes and more.
Overheard among attendees were conversations flecked with such phrases and observations as
“fuel-injected, Stingray, 1954, historical, red-and-white ‘Vette interiors, cherry red, bright green,
United Road/Pilot Transport – 2
“We’ve been using the Woodward Warehouse as a drop-off and pick-up point and now we’re officially their transportation provider,” explained Hall. “The facility has a full suite of services,” he added.
The Warehouse opened less than a year ago under the auspices of owner Joe Polito, who transformed an old, abandoned building into an attractive haven for automobiles, complete with car lifts, a car wash and more. The large, spic-and-span space —adorned with car memorabilia, neon signs, and an auto-inspired red, black and white color scheme — also features a full kitchen,
game room, boardroom, clubhouse, cigar lounge, etc. — all extremely accommodating for Pilot Transport clients.
“Our customers love it,” said Hall, who added that his favorite car at the hospitality event was the 1951 Pontiac Chieftain. “With its low-brow finish, ceramic hood ornament, it’s just really nice,” he said.
The Woodward Garage/Pilot Transport partnership started when common friend and professional automotive artist and designer Murray Pfaff of Pfaff Designs brought the two
“Murray (Pfaff) is a connector,” said Hall, “and a friend of the hot rod industry. It’s always about six degrees of separation with him.” Pfaff, in fact, showcased his awesome Imperial Speedster at the event. With punchy, orange details, Pfaff’s beauty stopped guests in their tracks.
If Pfaff needed to ship his Speedster to, say, a celebrity buyer, Pilot Transport would be his go-to carrier outfit. “Right,” explained Hall, “confidentiality is a huge part of what we do. We might haul, say a mid-sized sedan with a design that’s five years from now. We also have a good list of celebrity clients, from athletes to actors.”
Rolling with Recognition As Hall and Parks explained Pilot Transport’s mission, Woodward Warehouse owner Joe Polito surveyed the party.
“One of the main goals for this event was to create awareness and brand recognition for both my facility and Pilot Transport,” said Polito. “And it’s going great.”
Added Hall: “We’re buying equipment, growing our fleet and we want to have a little of everything, adding to our current customer base; these types of gatherings help get the word out.”
Pilot Transport business is up about 20 percent over last year with a first quarter that’s stronger than numbers in any of the last seven years, according to Pilot Transport’s Parks. On a good month, the company racks up some 600,000 transport miles.
“Today’s turnout is better than I ever expected,” noted Parks. “I think Dream Cruise attendees are pretty happy to hang out here for a while.”
Added event attendee and United Road CFO Eric Mikesell, who brought his wife and two young sons to the event, “It’s a fantastic party and a great opportunity for people to get together and look at some nice cars.” And a really nice car carrier, too.