In the summer of 1922, young Joe Wilson is a gardener at a wealthy family's estate. When the chauffeur falsely accuses Joe of a misdeed and attacks him, Joe injures the chauffeur in self-defense. Knowing the law will be after him, Joe skips town and heads to Detroit, Michigan where his cousin lives.
It's the Roaring Twenties and Detroit is an exciting place. The automobile industry is booming, people are flooding into the city to work in the busy factories, fortunes are being made, and alcohol Prohibition is the law of the land. With quality booze available just across the river in Canada, Detroit is a bootlegger's paradise.
Joe finds a factory job and is soon at odds with the thieving foreman who is stealing from the workers and the factory owner. When Joe discovers the fraud, he tells the owner's daughter which sets off a chain of events that rapidly spin out of control. Joe and those around him are soon dragged into the seamy world of criminals, corruption, and illegal booze.
Joe's journey takes him through Detroit's busy factories, to the garage of one of America's richest families, to a car-design studio in the early days of auto-styling, and to the brink of success. Along the way he dodges vicious bootleggers, dirty cops, and a sleazy banker.