Rolling Sculpture Car Show roaring back into downtown Ann Arbor this Friday
Angela J. Cesere | AnnArbor.com file photo
And there’s the Rolling Sculpture Car Show, which is set to bring hundreds of collectible and unusual vehicles to downtown Ann Arbor for the 18th year on July 13.
“In the car world, there are lots of different auto shows, but most of then take place on golf courses or in parks or other open spaces,” said Maura Thomson, director of the Main Street Area Association, which organizes the show.
“The unique thing about Rolling Sculpture is that it takes place on our downtown streets.”
As the show unfolds, some 400 cars will be stationed on Main, Liberty, Washington Street and Ashley streets.
Over time, Rolling Sculpture has established itself as a traditional part of summer in Ann Arbor, marking a spot between the wind-down of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival and beginning of the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
And for car enthusiasts, Rolling Sculpture marks a highlight event of the summer.
“Many car shows are themed: orphan shows, shows devoted to particular makes or models, hot rod shows,” said Mark Grehnke of Ann Arbor, an auto engineer and self-described lifelong car guy. “But at Rolling Sculpture, you might see a muscle car from the ‘70s parked next to a Citroen parked next to a restored (AMC) Gremlin.
“It’s the variety that makes it special.”
Thomson said there’s no criteria for entering a car in the show. Organizers require only that participants register their vehicles, either in advance or, space permitting, the day of the show.
And despite the open and inclusive nature of the show, Grehnke said the quality of the cars it attracts is second to none.
“I think there’s something about the fact that it takes place in Ann Arbor and that it’s in a downtown setting that brings out some collectors that might otherwise stay home,” he said. “It’s an event that really seems to attract the high-level collectors.”
Further, he said, the show often features cars that are in the midst of a restoration, offering glimpses into the overhaul process.
No car show is complete without music, and Thomson said she’s lined up a DJ who will play a steady stream of nothing but car-related tunes throughout the show. In addition, Rolling Sculpture T-shirts will be available for the first time, she said.
In addition, she said several cars will be on hand a day early to take part in the grand opening of the new underground parking garage between Fifth Avenue and Division Street.
Thomson estimated the show attracts between 3,000 and 5,000 spectators each year, depending on the weather. But the impact on the downtown economy extends beyond those numbers, she said.
“For me, part of the value of things like Rolling Sculpture is connecting people to the Main Street neighborhood,” she said. “I feel like there is lots of residual value for these events.”
Note: As a prelude to Rolling Sculpture, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority is holding a grand opening of the Library Lane Parking Structure from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, July 12. The event will include music, refreshments and tours of the new parking structure, as well as a preview of some of the Rolling Sculpture cars, including a 1914 Ann Arbor, the only remaining car built in Ann Arbor. From 7-8:30 p.m., the Ann Arbor District Library will host a speaker event in the Multi-Purpose Room. The event will celebrate the history of automobiles and feature Joseph Jendza (“Top Hat John”) and Victoria Mobley. Top Hat John is a local automotive historian and enthusiast who has hosted hundreds of classic car shows and cable TV programs. Victoria Mobley is a producer of local car shows and cruise nights, she will share her presentation, “Fashion and the Automobile."