Detroit and surrounding area enthusiasts who could care less about what OEMs are building new this year don’t have long to wait between the end of the North American International Auto Show and the Detroit Autorama. One of a series of professional-grade indoor shows, the Motown event brings in hundreds of the best hot rods and custom cars on the continent.
A blessed relief from winter’s torment, the Detroit Autorama show is also the source of the coveted Ridler Award, which is given to an exemplary custom car, that is being shown for the first time. First, the car must make it into the Show’s “Great Eight” – a process that starts even as the candidates are being moved to their display slots. Qualifying cars must be drivable. Rolling sculptures are not allowed.
The Corvette above made it into the Great Eight category and, by itself, this is an achievement that few succeed in. Bruce Milyard, of Grand Junction, Colorado, began the project as a birthday present for this wife. Working with Johnny Martin of Alamosa, Colorado, they estimate that the four-year project has consumed 10,000 hours of labor to date. While the LS3-powered 1962 Vette wasn’t chosen for the Ridler Award, making it into the finals your first time out is spectacular.
Don Ridler – the man behind the coveted award – was a Michigan event promoter who, among other things, produced the Michigan State Fair Grandstand shows in the 1950’s and was asked to help with the Autorama show in that era. Ridler’s enthusiasm and creativity drove the show to the next level and brought car fans and the curious to the Coliseum at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Ridler died in 1963, but the show organizers immediately decided to honor the man by creating the award in his name.
Among the hundreds of entrants in the Detroit show, there was a wide selection of Corvettes, both classic and contemporary. The gallery below, courtesy of Corvette Blogger, shows some of the nicer ones to drool over. The video below, while not Corvette-specific, will give you an idea of the number and quality of the entries you’ll see at the show.