2019 Detroit Autorama Custom Car Show

The Great 8 Finalists and Ridler Award Winner from Cobo Center

The highly anticipated Ridler Award was created to honor one of the most prolific show promoters of the 1950s and the first front man for the Michigan Hot Rod Association’s Autorama who made a lasting impact not only because of the professional way that he brought recognition to the show, but also for the creative ways by which he did it. The Don Ridler Memorial Award has been a yearly tradition since 1964 and has since become one of the most coveted recognitions that a custom car owner or builder can receive.

2019 REidler Award winner
Detroit’s Cobo Center is home to America’s Greatest Hot Rod Show where custom cars compete for the coveted Don Ridler Memorial Award. The Edelbrock Team was there with its famous Big Red rig and snapped plenty of photos of the Great 8 Finalists and the Ridler winner. Scroll down and see if you can guess which car won.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Ridler competition is its first rule: The vehicle must make its first public showing at the Detroit Autorama. This also means that no images or information on the vehicle can be disclosed on social media. Not an easy commitment in this day and age of instant photo sharing on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Still, the competition is teeming with an arena full of show cars, all of which having the potential to take home the grand prize.

The 2019 Great 8 Finalists and Ridler Award Winner

The process of elimination that determines who the recipient of the Ridler Award will be all boils down to the Great 8, which is a group of finalists chosen from the many entries that roll through the doors of Detroit’s Cobo Center. The winner of the Ridler Award receives a cash prize of $10,000, a paltry sum considering how much time, labor and money is invested into the building of these vehicles. It’s clearly the prestige of winning the award that holds the magic, and even being selected as a Great 8 contender is considered a win in itself.

Edelbrock, a supporting exhibitor at the Detroit Autorama, rolled into the Motor City with the familiar Big Red rig full of the latest Pro-Flo 4 EFI, E-Force Superchargers, AVS2 Carburetors and Engine Accessories, and we spent the weekend talking shop with all of the Michigan hot rodders who stopped by to say hi. Walking the show, we managed to fill our memory cards up with a gallery of photos from the 67th Annual Autorama including the Great 8 Finalists and 2019 Ridler Award winner. Take a look at this year’s Great 8 and see if you can pick the winner out of these incredible machines below.

The GM Acadian is Canada's version of the Chevy II
The GM Acadian is Canada’s version of the Chevy II and there is none sweeter than this 1964 owned by the Jadresko family of Victoria, BC. The builder is JF Launier of JF Kustoms, who reshaped the body and molded it into the frame. It’s powered by a twin-turbocharged Nelson Racing Engines 632 pumping out more than 2,500 horsepower.
1969 Camaro owned by Pat and Debbie Morgan
Fans of the late-’60s ponycar era will love this Great 8 contender from Township, MI. Willy Peart of Willy’s Workshop built this 1969 Camaro for Pat and Debbie Morgan with a combination of early- and late-model components including an LSA engine sourced from a Cadillac and a custom interior from a 2012 Camaro.
2019 Ridler Award Finalist
Mel Harbaugh’s 1947 Sedan Delivery hails from Ottawa Lake, MI, and was one of the finest Fords at the 2019 Detroit Autorama. Its builder is Chris Dixon of Wounded Knee Motors and it’s powered by a late 5.0L Coyote engine.
1932 Ford Victoria, 2019 Ridler Award
No Great 8 would be complete without a 1932 Vicky in the running. This one, owned by Phil and Debbie Becker of Dwight, IL, was totally rebuilt by Dave Lane at the Fast Lane Shop with a small-block Chevy for power and interior parts from a 1939 Zephyr.
2019 Great 8 1965 Chevelle
Sitting on an Art Morrison Sport GT chassis is this 1965 Chevelle owned by Sonny Freeman of Lafayette, LA. Mike Goldman Customs gets the build credit for this A-Body badass that competes in the Radical Hardtop class with a Tremec T56-backed LS7 engine.
Robert and Lorna Chapman 1935 Ford Slantback
Robert and Lorna Chapman hauled their 1935 Ford Slantback all the way from Ontario, CA, to make the Great 8 cut at the 2019 Autorama. The project has been in the works for 11 years and includes a custom chassis, two-inch chop, immaculate black paint, and a supercharged LS1.
Quint Walberts 1941 Willys
Color-shifting pearl paint and a chromed-out ZZ5 engine are the highlights of this 1941 Willys owned and built by Quint Walberts of Danville, IN.
2019 Ridler Award winner Cadillac
“Cadmad” is a wild 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham owned by Steve Barton of Las Vegas, NV. Jordan Quintal Sr. of Super Rides By Jordan in Escondido, CA, get credit for the transformation of this project that features a 1955 Pontiac wagon grafted onto the Caddy body. Twin turbos are force-feeding a Nelson Racing 632 under the arrow-straight hood.
Cadmad 1959 Cadillac Eldorado
WINNER! Congratulations to Steve Barton for winning the 2019 Ridler Award with his 1959 Caddy called “Cadmad.”

More photos from the Detroit Autorama