Drive-ins & Dream Cruises

Gary S. Vasilash

If you think back to American Graffiti, the film that celebrated the time when things like drive-in theaters were in their heyday, you’ll remember the two primary cars in that movie were a ’32 Ford and a ’55 Chevy. Good old Detroit Iron.

And for those who live in and around the Detroit metro know, cars like that are rolling around town, getting ready for the annual Woodward Dream Cruise. It officially starts tomorrow, but there is a full array of classic cruisers seen seemingly everywhere, all prepped and styled.

 Honda Project Drive-In

This brings us in a slightly roundabout way to a laudable undertaking by Honda—not the stuff of American Graffiti (it wasn’t until 1962 that “You meet the nicest people on a Honda,” and note that it was on, not in, as they’re talking motorbikes, not cars)—to save drive-in movie theaters, which are threatened by the switch from 35-mm film to digital projection.

Apparently, it costs some $75,000 per screen to make the switch to digital projection, which means a whole lot of hot dogs and boxes of popcorn—too much for many theater owners, so for the few that are left, not having been turned into strip malls or parking lots, the writing is on the proverbial screen.

So Honda is sponsoring Project Drive-In, to save as many passion pits*—I mean drive-ins—as possible. One activity is voting (through September 9, 9 pm, Pacific) for which five drive-ins will get a digital setup courtesy of Honda. The winning drive-ins will also get a special screening of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, which brings back from memory the tykes playing on the swings and slides and stuff in their PJs prior to the movies.

Said Alicia Jones, manager of Honda & Acura Social Marketing at American Honda Motor Co., “Cars and drive-in theaters go hand-in-hand, and it’s our mission to save this decades-old slice of Americana that holds such nostalgia for so many of us.”

She’s got that right.

*C’mon: if you’re of a certain age you know exactly what I’m talking about and probably sometimes wonder why back seats aren’t as capacious as they once were. . . .