ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – The smell of leaded gasoline filled the air from Ferndale to Pontiac, as metro Detroit celebrated its love affair with the automobile in the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.

“We’ve been car guys all our lives,” said Vernell Anthony of Southfield. “I think when you’re a car guy, even when you’re a kid, you know you’re a car guy.”

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Anthony was cruising a classic Chevy Nova. Jim Forsyth of Holly was driving a green “Boss” Mustang.

While Forsyth has seven more classics at home, he said the cruise is really more about people than cars.

“You know, it’s the camaraderie of people having common interests,” he said. “I talk to a lot of people, meet a lot of people. So, it’s just a good time.”

With sunny weather and mild temperatures, a million people or more could crowd along Woodward Avenue, to get a look at the classic cruisers that slowly pass by in the very dense traffic.

Every year, the Dream Cruise attracts more people from outside the Detroit area. Jim Utrick drove his classic Chevy Nova here from Jefferson City, Missouri.

“It was a beautiful day all the way,” he said. “It was a 12 hour drive. Every time you stop for gas, or people pass you on the highway, they honk, or come over to talk to you.”

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For the first time cruisers were joined by runners, with an early morning 5k race, “Cruise In Your Shoes.”

“How can you not love waiting for a run, being twenty feet away from a classic Rolls Royce,” said runner John Cooper, from Ypsilanti.

The major auto companies also have a much larger presence on Woodward this year. Chrysler even used its display at 13 and Woodward to unveil a concept vehicle. The Ram “Rumble Bee” harkens back to a special vehicle the Ram brand had a decade ago.

We painted this thing to really bring it to life,” said Ram brand director Bob Hegbloom. “It’s got a matte yellow finish on it, with a black accent strip, with the aggressive Rumble Bee logo.”

General Motors had a display in Birmingham and in Royal Oak. Ford has brought back its “Mustang Alley” in Ferndale.

General Motors North America President Mark Reuss has been out cruising most nights this week, alternating between a 2014 Corvette Stingray, a classic Corvette and a 1959 Australian-made Holden.

“First thing people say is that’s a nice 55 Chevy. But, that’s not a 55 Chevy driving on the wrong side of the road.”

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Twitter: @jefferygilbert