Photos by C.J. Holt

The Detroit Autorama judges have made their selections and whittled the field of 2017 Ridler award contenders down to the Great 8. A few names and build shops are familiar names but there are also a few surprises. This year’s field features three Chevrolet’s and five Fords with two trucks among the finalists. We have to admit, it is one of the best looking fields in years and it is refreshing to see traditional pre-war hot rods making a surge on the Ridler stage!

Here they are!

Buddy Jordan, Portland, OR – “Renaissance Roadster” 1933 Ford Roadster

Buddy Jordan, Portland, OR - “Renaissance Roadster” 1933 Ford Roadster

The Renaissance Roadster, owned by Nancy and Buddy Jordan and built by the Steve Frisbie of Steve’s Auto Restoration resembles a 1933 Ford roadster. In reality, it’s a hand-formed car. Created completely from the ground up from aluminum and steel flat sheet, tubing and billet, few “off the shelf” parts were used and those that were have been highly modified.

Designed by Chris Ito and Steve Frisbie, the Renaissance Roadster is a hand-built aluminum body with a removable top that rides on none other than a S.A.R. chassis with independent front and rear suspension. It features a plethora of aluminum goodies too, like the anniversary edition 427c.i. V8, suspension components, and billet wheels to name a few. Custom bumpers and trim accompany the flawless two-tone paint scheme and a custom leather interior with more custom accents finish off this beautiful coach built roadster.

Dennis Johnson, S. Burlington, VT – “Split Ray” 1966 Corvette

Dennis Johnson, S. Burlington, VT – “Split Ray” 1966 Corvette

Scott and the crew at the Auto Shoppe in Vermont are the ones responsible for “Split Ray”- a 1966 Corvette that’s been split right down the middle, and widened 6 3/8”, creating the first true wide-body C2 supercar on the planet. With a myriad of oh-so-subtle body mods, the “Split Ray” will fool even the most competent Corvette connoisseur.

Buried in the chassis and underneath the Z06 Shark Skin Grey Metallic lies a supercharged LS9, T56 gearbox, big Baer brakes, a custom set of Evod wheels wrapped in Pirelli tires and enough modern technology to make your head spin. Don’t worry though, there’s an app for that. All the technology that resides inside the Split Ray’s Z06 interior can be controlled by, you guessed it, your smart phone.

Robby Collvin, Mt. Vernon, TX – “Heirloom” 1949 Chevrolet Pickup

Robby Collvin, Mt. Vernon, TX – “Heirloom” 1949 Chevrolet Pickup

Owned and built by Robby Collvin, Heirloom is a full custom ’49 Chevy pickup, and probably one of the most highly modified pickups we’ve seen in recent years. Every panel on this truck is trick and the number of mods is too long to list but the Cad taillights really caught our eye. Attention to detail is insane too, so we’ll just touch on the high points. The stock pickup body has been chopped, sectioned, and widened to name a few. The bed is custom, both inside and out. The bumpers, the tailgate, the roof, the glass, again custom.

Robby’s truck also sits atop a custom chassis with Corvette suspension, uses a supercharged LS for power and is covered in gallons of beautifully mixed copper and bronze. Rawhide leather buckets, a custom dash wrapped in more leather accent the exterior and tie the entire truck together. The interior is adorned with brushed steel and bronze accents. With attention to detail like this, Heirloom is just as comfortable shining under the lights as she is rollin’ down the road. This truck was actually finished last year for the Autorama but was damaged during the load. They took it home, fixed it and held it for it’s grand debut this year. We’re glad they did!

George Poteet, Memphis, TN – “The GPT” 1932 Ford Tudor

George Potett, Memphis, TN – “The GPT” 1932 Ford Tudor

The “GPT” ’32 Ford Tudor built by Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop of Gadsden, AL is the latest creation for George Poteet, a name many of you will recognize. He’s an avid collector and is always building the next greatest thing, this time it’s this amazing 1932 Ford Tudor.

Starting off with concepts from E Black Design, and Eric Brockmeyer, the panels of the sedan were meticulously massaged, chopped and proportioned before applying several coats of deep PPG black. The minimalistic interior with its wooden plank floor, more PPG-finished and leather wrapped panels are exquisite and don’t take away from the vintage feel. In keeping with the less is more theme, the engine compartment includes a host of modern, vintage looking pieces atop the Keith Dorton-prepped Ford Y-block V8. A custom JHRS chassis, billet firewall, bins full of JHRS parts with a coating by Jon Wright’s Custom Chrome and gold anodized Halibrand wheels finish off this spectacular ’32.

Ted Hubbard, South Bend, NE – 1930 Ford Five-Window Coupe

Ted Hubbard, South Bend, NE – 1930 Ford Five-Window Coupe

This sinister chopped Model A Coupe, built by Andy Leach and his crew from Cal Auto Creations sets the bar high. It’s got the look, the stance, and the power to back it up. It’s safe to say, mashing on the throttle in this lil’ coupe and force feeding the Ardun topped Hemi, via the supercharger is going to be the highlight of owner, Ted Hubbard’s day.

Finished off in a killer quasi-blue/gray finish, this radically chopped coupe with its traditional style bronze wheels and big blown Ford combine to produce a somehow refined and edgy feel. That same theme is carried on the inside too, with brown distressed Naugahyde, lots of stainless, elegant stripping and minimal carpet. Ted’s fabulous five-window is hot rod through and through and looks to be ready for a big year.

Larry and Robbie Giffey, Powell, TN – 1954 Custom Corvette

Ted Hubbard, South Bend, NE – 1930 Ford Five-Window Coupe

Starting life as a ’54 Corvette probably wasn’t half bad, being just about the only muscle on the block. However, for the Giffey’s, who build and restore cars for a living, a stock ’54 just didn’t cut it, so they, cut into theirs.

Constructed as a tribute to GM and the Corvette Concept that traveled the Motorama circuit in 1954, their custom ’54 features a handful of parts from the 1956 model Corvette. The roof and windshield are from a ’56 and unless you recognize the subtle differences (we didn’t), you’ll glance right over them. To compliment the body mods and stay true to the “concept” style of the 50’s, Larry and Robbie chose to update the powertrain to modern standards with a tubular Jamison chassis and Edelbrock supercharged LS1. The interior follows the same theme with a collection of leather, and high-end upholstery making it one cool concept Corvette.

Ed Sears, Annapolis, MA – “The Gold Standard” 1941 Ford Pickup

Ed Sears, Annapolis, MA – “The Gold Standard” 1941 Ford Pickup

Eat your heart out Henry Ford, Ed Sears 1941 Ford Pickup is the “Gold Standard” when it comes to pickups. Every panel on this 8BA powered barn find has been massaged and fit to perfection. The hood has been pie cut and nosed, the bed is entirely built from aluminum, and the cab has been extended 8.” Every other panel on the truck has been either sectioned, rolled, or massaged before applying, what the owner calls, “Brown Sugar.”

Sitting atop the custom built chassis with independent front and rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and lots of painted, polished and plated surfaces, we guarantee the only work this beauty is going to see is at car shows and cruise nights. Ed assured us, he’s going to drive the rubber off it too.

Dennis Portka, Hamburg, NY – “Phoenix” 1929 Ford Pickup

Dennis Portka, Hamburg, NY – “Phoenix” 1929 Ford Pickup

Built at home, by owner Dennis Portka, this little red ’29 Ford Pickup dubbed the “Phoenix” has been a love affair for the last 24 years. Starting off with Swiss cheese for a cab, Dennis fabricated every panel on this little pickup, including forming the Phoenix on the door panels, casting numerous parts, and building the chassis before finally laying down the bright red finish.

We should mention, it’s not Dennis’s first time competing in Detroit for the Ridler either. Back in ’84 he brought another car to the Autorama but was beat out by Bobby Alloway, by just two points, sending him home without the big trophy. Guess the story of the Phoenix rising again rings true in the world of custom cars too!