2024 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award Great 8 Finalists

Nadir Ali

Every year since 1964, hot-rod builders travel to Michigan to celebrate their craft at the Detroit Autorama. The three-day event is home to the Don Ridler Memorial Award, “the Nobel Prize of hot-rodding.” Any Autorama participant is eligible, as long as the vehicle is operable and has never appeared at any other show. The winner, which you can read about here, is chosen from eight finalists that are announced the day before and known as The Great Eight.

The 2024 Detroit Autorama kicked off at noon today with the announcement of the “Great 8” finalists for the Ridler Award, arguably the most prestigious prize in the world of custom cars. Here are those finalists. We’ll be covering the Ridler winner after it has been announced at the award banquet on Sunday evening.

1959 Corvette “XS ive”

1959 Corvette XS ive side
Nadir Ali

Owner: Steve Sheats, Henderson, CO
Builder: True Color Customs (body, paint, carbon)
Interior: Randy’s Upholstery
Chassis: Art Morrison
Wheels: Schott custom
Engine: 700-hp 427-cubic-inch LS V-8
Transmission: Tremec T-56 Magnum, polished and brushed case
Modifications include: Widened quarter panels, flared doors, side coves modified to be functional air extractors

1968 Mercury Cougar “Predator”

1968 Mercury Cougar Predator side
Nadir Ali

Concept: Fastback Mercury Cougar
Owner, designer, builder: JF Launier, Vancouver, BC
Interior: Lee Baxter’s Hot Rod
Chassis: JF Customs
Wheels: Curtis custom
Engine: Kaase Boss 529 V-8
Transmission: Tremec TKX 5-speed
Suspension: Gary Yorston, with tubular A-arms up front, 3-link setup and coilovers in back, 9-inch Ford positraction differential
Brakes: Four-wheel discs
Modifications include: Mustang fastback roof, front end shortened 4 inches, wider and longer rear quarter panels

1953 Corvette Coupe “TwelveAir”

1953 Corvette Coupe TwelveAir front three quarter
Nadir Ali

Owner: David Maxwell, Saltsburg, PA
Designer and builder: Kendig-It
Chassis and body: Custom all-aluminum unibody and custom aluminum body skin based on the 1953 Corvette “Corvair” Motorama car
Engine: Custom Race Car Engineering, all-aluminum 9.9L naturally aspirated V-12, based on LS architecture
Transmission: Late-model Corvette automatic rear transaxle
Exhaust: Handformed stainless steel
Suspension: Custom inboard pushrod setup
Brakes: Wilwood discs at all four corners

1959 Chrysler 300E “1000X”

1959 Chrysler 300E 1000X front three quarter
Nadir Ali

Owner: Randy Kohltfarber, Phoenix, AZ
Builder: American Legends
Paint: James Evens
Interior: Patrick Goodwin; custom Sparc steering wheel, Dakota Digital gauges, custom console, swiveling bucket seats, 3D printed door panels, custom leather upholstery, suede headliner
Body: About 50 mods, including reshaped pillars and doors, tucked bumpers, lots of one-off 3D printed parts; factory glass is flush-fitted
Wheels: Custom carbon fiber
Engine: 1000-hp 6.2L Chrysler Hellcat V-8 with a custom stainless steel exhaust
Transmission: Tremec T-56
Brakes: Wilwood custom
Suspension: Air shocks with rear cantilevered dampeners

1963 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 Hardtop “Good Vibrations”

1963 Chevy Impala SS 409 Hardtop Good Vibrations front three quarter
Nadir Ali

Owner: Mike Garner, Fleetwood, PA
Designer: Eric Brockmeyer/ Denise Moyer-Lehman
Builder and paintwork: Bruce Harvey’s Pro Comp Custom (Pro Comp has built the last two Ridler winners)
Interior: Paul Atkins
Engine: Original Chevy 409 V-8
Transmission: Richmond 5-speed
Wheels: Custom 10-spoke by MHT

1951 Kaiser Henry J Pickup “Henry Jenner”

1951 Kaiser Henry J Pickup Henry Jenner front three quarter
Nadir Ali

Owner: Joe Faso, Las Vegas, NV
Builder: Revision Rods & Rides
Designer: Eric Brockmeyer
Chassis: Custom built by Roadster Shop
Interior: Upholstery by Recovery Room, Dakota Digital gauges
Engine: LS3 V-8 with casting marks removed
Transmission: GM 4L65E with casting marks removed
Modifications include: Converting a Henry J sedan into a unibody pickup truck with a floating grille, pancaked and stretched hood, stretched fenders, chopped roof, 4-inch stretched wheelbase, hand-built bed and surround

1956 Chevy Bel Air two door “Smoothy”

1956 Chevy Bel Air Smoothy front three quarter
Nadir Ali

Owner and designer: Gene Talsma, Hudsonville, MI
Body and paint: Ron Sall, Body Werx
Interior: Pro Auto Custom Interiors
Chassis: Smoothed and modified RS Tube Frame 4
Engine: 440-hp 6-liter LS V-8
Transmission: GM 4L65
Modifications include: Tucked and shortened bumpers, frenched 3rd taillight in roof, shaved and peaked hood and trunk

1967 Cadillac Eldorado “Vanilla Gorilla”

1967 Cadillac Eldorado Vanilla Gorilla front three quarter
Nadir Ali

Owner: David Blattner, Big Lake, MN

Often, Autorama organizers will choose as a finalist a car whose owner or builder didn’t think they’d be competing for the Ridler trophy, but the concept and build quality are worthy of recognition. David Blattner’s shortened ’67 Eldo is one such car. As a result, the build team didn’t have printed “hero” cards or a placard with the car’s special features in the way that all the other Ridler competitors had prepared. The builder did tell me that they took a full 24 inches out of the car’s length. A stock production ’67 Eldorado is 221 inches, but Cadillac designer Wayne Kady’s original styling sketches portrayed a personal luxury car that was even longer, powered by a proposed V-12 engine. This “shorty” version was so well executed, I’m pretty sure Kady would approve.


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    The Cadillac designer is Wayne Kady, not Cady.
    Its inexplicable why anyone would want to shorten the 1967 Eldorado and ruin the design.

    The photography here is poor. Perhaps that’s too harsh, the photos are fine, but the selection is unfortunate.

    A custom coupe body version of a 53 Corvette, but no good pictures of the party trick coupe roofline.

    A custom pickup version of the Henry J and no good pictures of the bed.

    A custom, shortened Eldorado and no images that highlight the new proportions.

    Like an article about the Cybertruck that only shows the interior.

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