Gazing At Perfection: The Great 8 Of The 2018 Detroit Autorama

The wait is over! The Great 8 finalists have been revealed at the 2018 Detroit Autorama presented by Meguiars.

Shrouded in secrecy throughout their creation –as per Ridler Competition rules– each of these cars is a work of art that just happen to roll on four wheels.

Below, the  following eight contenders compete for the coveted 2018 Ridler award, presented in no particular order.

Stuart Adams – 1969 Camaro – “Tux”

Since we’re in Detroit it only makes sense to start with a company that pays homage to the motor city by name. Detroit Speed Inc‘s “Tux” is, from bumper to bumper, one of the greatest Camaros we’ve come across.

From day one the goal was for this car to appear “stock but not” As a result all of the modifications are somewhat subtle, yet wickedly effective.

A long list of body modifications have been employed on this car. Many of which would go unnoticed to all but the most dedicated Camaro fanatic.

The modifications include elements like custom machined headlight covers and reshaped bumpers. Even the position of the signal lights has been changed to better bring out the Camaros body lines.

All of the exterior sheet metal was then painted black to prove the body work was laser straight.

The chassis is provided  by Detroit Speed and features a narrowed version of their popular front sub-frame.  Underneath the car are hand build close out panels for the front apron, rocker panels, and rear pan.

Power comes from a Kurt Urban LS2 that’s topped with a Harrop supercharger. The front drive is entirely custom and goes virtually unnoticed.

The intake box matches the detailing of the Harrop supercharger impeccably creating one of our favorite features.

Disc brakes are at all four corners behind custom Forgeline wheels that have been chrome plated on the outer faces and coated black on the inner.

The interior is done by M&M customs and uses a refined color pallet that absolutely works wonders.

Chris Allen/Greg Allen – 1967 Camaro – “Nickleback”

The second Camaro to crack the Great 8 is known as “Nickleback”,  a sandstone painted 67 that is the result of over 21 years of anticipation.

Nickleback, named so because of all of the nickle plating used, was a started in 2012. But Chris had thoughts of building this Camaro for several years prior.

When he approached Superior Autoworks to commission the car going this far wasn’t the original plan. As they often do things snowballed and the result is stunning.

An all original California car was used as a base. With no need to do extensive rust repair the body was stripped down and modifications were begun in short order.

It might not look it but the rear end of the car has been completely redesigned. On its own it is hard to tell by beside another Camaro the changes to the body are quite apparent. The front of the car has also been extended. Doubling down the entire car is put together with custom machined bolts.

Additionally all, and we do mean all, of the trim has been recessed on the car inside and out.

Corners have been radiused throughout the car, smoothing all of the panel unions.

This works particularly well in the engine bay. All of the nipping and tucking under hood provides the perfect setting for the blown 355 LT1.

Bolted to the back of the painted and pin striped block is a competition turbo 400.

Heidts Pro suspension is used front and rear. All of it molded and smoothed before being plated by Advanced Plating.

Rolling stock consists of 18×8 and 20×11.5  Evod industry wheels that have also been chrome plated.

Greg & Judy Hrehovsik, & Johnny Martin – 1957 Chevy 150 Hardtop – “Imagine”

Tri Five Chevy’s are a staple of hot rodding. They’ve been modified countless times and yet we’ve never seen one quite like “Imagine”.

Built by Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop the crown jewel of this build is the twin turbo 515 cubic inch big block motor.

A perfect mirror image from side to side, the motor is flanked by custom inner fenders and covered by a sectioned and pancaked hood.

Not just a show piece the motor makes a healthy 1034 horsepower.

The unique profile of the car is brought on by what Johny’s describes as “extensive” body work.

It’s been chopped and channeled, sectioned and wedged. The cowl has been removed and the windshield is an one off piece.

The underside is just as detailed as the topside. Mirrors are present to help show off some of the details that would go overlooked if the car was on the ground.

Take our word for it though, you’d be staring at the mirror for hours trying to notice everything that’s been done.

Inside, one off, is again the theme. The seats, dash, two piece console and door panels are all custom for this car. This of course was all expertly re-trimmed in house.

Rhea and Harold Schrader – 1939 Ford Sedan Delivery – “Delivered On Time”

Delivery’s are the underappreciated heros of hot rod culture. The predecessor to the wagon, these capable vehicles often don’t get their fair shake.

“Delivered On Time” comes as a direct result of Rhea and Harold’s previous show quality vehicles offering up limited space when completed.

The third owners of the delivery, Rhea and Dan spent years researching and collecting the right to build this Ford. Once their parts hording mission was complete they brought the delivery to Dan Wickett at Hot Rod Construction.

From there Hot Rod Construction did their thing. First order of business was getting the body into top form. The modifications here include shaved door handles, drip rails and hinges.

The running boards were narrowed, the top pancaked and new fenders built.

The interior features a ’41 dash that has been cut down to fit a ’39. Interior materials include distressed leather and suede up front.

In the rear hand carved Zebra wood covers a carbon fiber and kevlar base. Stainless steel wood strips have been flush mounted into the fine wood.

While this delivery does have room to haul, it would be an absolute shame to do so and cover up all this work.

Finally, the motor, which is hidden topped by a custom intake manifold, is a 5.7L Hemi. That’s right this wicked Ford gets it’s power from a Mopar!

Robert Anderson – 1936 Pontiac Sedan – “Pindian”

When Legens Hot Rod Shop set out to build the “Pindian” they did so knowing that it was already a unique looking vehicle. So instead of going over the top they created the kind of car where the longer you look the more you notice.

The first thing we noticed was the custom trim that starts from the grill and carries through all the way to the license plate. What we didn’t notice, until we were told, is that at the top of the car the trim is transparent to allow light through.

Riding on an extended Roadster shop chassis the restyled Pontiac is powered by a smoothed and warmed over supercharged Chevrolet LT4 motor.

Inside is an incredibly unique gauge cluster that was inspired by a vintage Pontaic print advertisment. Dakota digital built it and it’s a one of a kind piece that stays stationary while the numbers rotate around it.

Add in a very subtle pearl white paint, custom wheels and an astounding number of body mods and you’re left with a refined twist on the street rod aesthetic.

1940 Ford Opera Coupe – K. Reid Hotaling

K. Reid Hotaling has had this 1940 Ford Coupe his entire driving life. After hot rodding the car himself as a younger man he retired it to storage until he had the time to “do it right”.

Looking at it today we’d say he certainly found the time to have it done right.

After a failed trip at another shop Farrel Creations And Restorations, head up by Tom Farrel, took the car all they way to the Great 8.

Riding on a smoothed and radiused Art Morrison GMAX chassis the car is powered by an aluminum Zl1 big block Chevrolet motor

True of all the Great 8 cars this Ford has received its fair share of body modifications. The rear fenders have been widened 2 inches and the hood has been pancaked an impressive 4 and a half inches.

Keeping things smooth the cowl vents have been removed and the windshield is flush fit. Finally The car was painted in Axalta base and clear.

Danielle Lutz – 1934 Ford

Steel is real, and this 1934 Ford built by Jason Graham Hot Rods is the real deal. The all steel bodied Ford is, according to Jason, the best thing to come out of their shop to date.

The profile of this truck makes it impossible to walk past. This is where all of the numerous body modifications work together cohesively to create the perfect hot rod stance.

Starting with the roof, the top has been chopped four and a half inches. While the top was coming down, the A pillars were leaned back ever so slightly and the cab was stretched one and a half inches.

The body is challened over a custom frame and the quick change rear end goes right through the bed sides within carefully cut ovals.

The one off, diameter staggered, 18 inch and 20 inch wheels help emphasizes this cars beautiful rake and contribute to its killer look.

Under the custom hood is a 347 stroker that uses Ingglese Injection. This gorgeous motor sits behind a custom grill insert.

Jason Graham says, and we quote, “I am so proud of what we accomplished with nothing much more than a hand full of Harbor Frieght hand tools and a few talented friends.”

Ryan’s Rod And Custom – 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II – “Scarlet Lady”

The Scarlet Lady is the only Great 8 competitor not to be on stands. Why? Because a true kustom sits on the ground and that is exactly what this Lincoln Continental Mark II is.

Under the absolotuely phenomenal PPG flaked paint is a body that’s been reshaped with care.

The top has been chopped two inches, with an addition three quarters of an inch cut above the drip rails.

Where’s the Continental kit that the car is known for you might wonder?

That sits on the floor used as the cars sign board.  Body mods on this car don’t just consist of taking things away. The lower rear quarters were actually extended to better hide the wheel in addition to being reshaped.

Honestly we could go on about the body, but the motor deserves to be discussed as well.

Under the hood is a Ford Racing Coyote 5.0 engine that’s been smoothed and painted the same red flake as the exterior, and under body.

Due to being such a large package the motor dictated plenty of sheet metal be moved. The team at Ryan’s Rod and Kustom describe it as a lot of work but there’s no denying it was worth it.

The chassis is completely custom and allows the huge Lincoln to lay right on the ground over custom 20″ wheels designed by Curtis Speed.

These wheels are a bit of a trick. Everything you see that is white is actually the wheel, not a traditional wide white tire. However a true Kustom needs that wide white look and that’s what this set up offers.

Inside a white tuck and rolled interior by Chuck Hanna at Hot Rod interiors drives home the 70s inspired Kustom feel.

In the trunk there’s a matching Fender Stratocaster, and a fender amplifier conceals the air suspension set up. Even with all that there’s still plenty of room left in the trunk which is great because this car is going to be shop owner Chris’ driver once it has complete it’s show circuit.

There you have it the 2018 Detroit Autorama Great 8 competitors. The show is just getting started here and we’re gearing up to head back out on the show floor to get even more photos of the Great 8 and the rest of the show.

Before we head back out we have to ask, if you were the judge which car would you pick?

About the author

Dave Thomas

Currently living near Toronto, Dave spends much of his free time behind a camera at car events, and likes just about anything with wheels, but usually the lower the better. When not taking photos, writing articles, or going upside down on his bike he can be found in the shop wrenching on his 1951 GMC pickup.
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