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Words: John Gunnell

The annual Cheaterama is put on by the Cheaters Car Club of Milwaukee, Wis. This year, the half-day show (well, it doesn’t start until noon) was held on Aug. 26 at The Terminal, a gigantic bar close to the entrance to Mitchell Airport. You can actually sit outside and watch the airplanes take off, but most visitors didn’t do that because they were too busy checking out some great hot rods.

Carl and Jerry Urbaniak are point people at Cheaterama and, in past years, we have picked up on the fact that Jerry is a music buff and Carl is a real aficionado of hot rods that look like they were built 50 years ago. This may explain why many people think that the Cheaterama draws the best hot rods in the Badger State. It is hard not to appreciate many of the cars at Cheaterama.

This year, members of the Cheaters Car Club grouped their cars together near the front of The Terminal, and the result was a drop dead gorgeous collection of coupes and roadsters that looked like the cars in one of the club articles in old issues of Hot Rod Magazine.

Strangely enough, Cheaterama doesn’t seem to feature a lot of rat rods, or flame paint jobs or even pinup girls. Black, dark blue and brown seem to be the colors of choice for the choicest hot rods at the show. And quite a few of them actually have chrome parts, which hot rodders really did like back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. In that era, rodders didn’t paint cars flat black because it was in vogue; they did it to prevent rust from forming while they were saving up money to have their parts re-plated. Cheaterama reflects the reality of the postwar years.

Accompanying this article are photos of some of the cars that reflect the spirit of the Cheaterama. We consider these to be the hottest rides at the event. Viewing each one of these cars was a treat. Growing up in New York City in the ‘50s, we never got to see a lot of hot rods, but when we did see one it looked like a Cheaterama car looks today.