Motor City Extravaganza: The 71st Annual Detroit Autorama

The Detroit Autorama has earned a reputation for being one of the top shows in the country, and for good reason, it brings out plenty of awesome vehicles. The 71st edition of this show crowned the newest winner of the Don Ridler Memorial Award who was truly deserving of the honor. Take a look at some of our favorite vehicles, and one massive gallery of images from the 71st Annual Detroit Autorama.

Dave And Tracey Maxwell’s “TwelveAir” Wins The Ridler

Dave Kindig, owner of Kindig-It Design, spent the better part of five years crafting TwelveAir. Kindig had done design work for previous Ridler Award-winning builds, but this was his first crack at entering something from his own shop. To say the team at Kindig-It Design hit it out of the park is an understatement.

TwelveAir’s body was hand-built out of 3003T0 and 6061 aluminum and is based on an early Corvette concept vehicle. Inside the body, you’ll find an interior by JS Custom Interiors that features a 3D-printed dash, console, and inserts. Race Cast Engineering created the custom aluminum V12 LS-based engine that’s backed by a GM 8L90E eight-speed transmission. You can learn more about TwelveAir right here.

Dannette Smith’s 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback

There are plenty of great custom touches all over Dannette Smieth’s Mustang. Straightline Customs worked the body over by tucking and narrowing the bumpers, along with moving the front lights. The Mustang’s wheel wells and firewall was also modified. Under the hood, the modern Ford engine is wearing a custom intake, and the radiator has its own handmade cover. Straightline also used CVF Racing hood hinges, a Lokar shifter, and Budnik steering wheel. Straightstitch Upholstery took care of the interior that’s filled with sound thanks to the JL Audio stereo system.

Brian And Barb Newlun’s Spirt Industries 1927 Roadster

There’s something cool about riding down the road in an open-air roadster. Brian and Barb Newlun’s 27T Roadster captures the iconic feel of a roadster, but elevates it to a luxurious level. Don Labonte at Gel Pro laid down the custom paint. Watson Custom Marine built the 350 cubic-inch small-block Chevy that powers the roadster and cranks out 390 horsepower.

Rocky Trozell’s 1967 “Cardinal Camaro”

The 1967 Camaro that US 12 Speed and Custom built for Rocky Trozell has a subtle, but powerful look to it. The Red Devine paint works well with the matte bronze finish on the one-off Billet Specialties wheels. There’s plenty of Anvil Auto custom carbon fiber parts to be found all over the Camaro. The car is powered by a 525 horsepower 6.2-liter LS engine that’s backed by a TREMEC transmission. Interiors by Ed crafted an outstanding space inside the Camaro that features products from TMI.

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John Sutherland’s 1932 Ford Roadster

Henry Ford would be proud of John Sutherland’s 1932 Ford Roadster that was built by Nichols Paint And Fab. You’ll find a twin-turbo Coyote engine powering the Roadster that receives boost from a pair of Nelson mirror image turbos. The boosted air is fed into the engine through a Borla intake manifold that was customized by Nichols. A Ford C6 transmission sends the horsepower back to the Winters quick change rearend via a QA1 driveshaft. Nichols also custom-built a cantilever rear suspension for the roadster.

The Brookville body rides on a custom chassis and features a bed that’s been shortened three inches, along with custom bed rails. A custom hue of “Blown Head Gasket Gray” was mixed and sprayed on the roadster by Nichols. Alumicraft built the custom headlight bezels, firewall, and grill. The wheels were designed by Nichols, and VOS Upholstery took care of the interior.

Randy Kohltfarber’s 1959 Chrysler 300E

If Bruce Wayne needed a cool luxury car to drive, he’d jump behind the wheel of Randy Kohltfarber’s 1959 Chrysler 300E. Randy’s version of this car is called the “Chrysler 1000X” and it was built by American Legends. The Chrysler 1000X has numerous body modifications including a 1.5” wedge chop, custom A-pillars, a 2” roof stretch, a scratch-built cowl panel, and so much more. A custom Roadster Shop chassis was created for the car. The BASF Glasurit was sprayed by James Evans.

Patrick Goodwin did a full custom interior inside the Chrysler 1000X. The dash has been heavily modified and filled with custom Dakota Digital gauges. You’ll also find a set of 3D-printed door panels and tons of other custom parts inside the car. Under the hood, there’s a 1,000 horsepower Dodge Hellcat engine powering the massive vehicle. Behind the engine, you’ll find a TREMEC T56 transmission.

Wayne Jesel’s 1924 Roadster

The Big “T” is an iconic model car that was produced by Monogram. Wayne Jesel built a full-size version of the Big “T” and gets to drive it. Waye’s car is based on a Model A frame that has stepped rails, a chrome 1937 Ford tubular front axle, and a Halibrand quick change rearend. The body of his 1924 roadster has been combined with a shortened Model A pickup bed. The interior consists of bucket seats with rolled and pleated upholstery. A built 283 cubic-inch engine that’s backed by a 1937 Buick transmission helps to move this real-life Big “T” down the road.

Shadi Beidoun’s 1968 Dodge Charger

When you combine an original 1968 Dodge Charger body with a 2016 Scat Pack chassis you get one cool car. Shadi Beidoun at Revenant Motors did just that in spectacular fashion with this creation. The body features handmade modifications to achieve a unique widebody look. A 392 cubic-inch Gen III HEMI lives under the hood, and has been paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. You can get plenty of sun as you rip down the road thanks to the giant panoramic sunroof.

Greg O’Connell’s 1988 Pro Street Dodge Shadow

A 1988 Dodge Shadow didn’t come with a rear-wheel drive option, but Greg O’Connell solved that problem with his radical ride known as “Hot Stuff”. O’Connell’s Shadow rides on a Gebhardts Procar tube chassis and Strange Engineering 9” rearend. A set of WELD Racing wheels are wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires, and can be found at each corner of the car. Seat Works took care of the custom interior that rests on the tinwork from Gebhardts. A 528 cubic-inch Mopar engine powers Hot Stuff and is backed by a 727 TorqueFlight transmission.

Jeff Flisnik’s 1963 Buick Wildcat

Jeff Flisnik is a self-proclaimed Buick fanatic who found one of the rarest Buick Wildcats ever. This 1963 Wildcat served as an engineering development program car for the 425 dual quad-engine platform. Now, Flisnik could have fully restored this car, put it in bubble wrap, and left it in his garage, but he went a totally different route. The unmarked 425 dual quad engine was set aside and a 425 cubic inch Nailhead engine was put in its place, but that just wasn’t enough for Flisnik. The engine now has a pair of turbos feeding it boost thanks to a turbo kit that Flisnik built himself.

A Liberty-built TREMEC five-speed transmission was bolted up to the engine and it sends power back to a Ford 9” rearend. The suspension has been upgraded with parts from Ride Tech. A set of custom wheels are home to the Wilwood brakes that bring the Buick to a stop. The interior is pretty close to original except for a custom set of Classic Instrument gauges.

Tonya And Jason Fightmaster’s 1934 Ford 3 Window Coupe

Tonya And Jason Fightmaster went all out with their “Twister” 1934 Ford 3 Window Coupe. This fantastic Ford is powered by a 540 cubic-inch big block that’s rocking a pair of AFR cylinder heads and a 6:71 blower. Running the big engine is a Holley EFI system that uses a pair of 1050 throttle bodies. A TH400 transmission from TCI takes care of the power transfer to the Fab 9 rearend that lives inside the custom chassis.

Mike Garner’s 1963 Chevy Impala

The “Good Vibrations” 1963 409 Impala SS that Mike Garner debuted at the Detroit Autorama is impressive. Bruce Harvey and the team at Pro Comp Custom did an outstanding job of laying down the Impala’s groovy paint. Paul Atkins Custom Interiors took care of everything under the roof of the Impala. The original 409 is backed by a Richmond five-speed transmission and sends power to the Winter’s Performance rearend. For rolling stock, a set of custom 10-spoke MHT wheels were added to the car.

David Blattner’s 1967 Cadillac Eldorado

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that David Blattner’s “Vanilla Gorilla” 1967 Cadillac Eldorado was just rocking some nice wheels and basic body modifications. Well, you’d be very wrong, the Vanilla Gorilla has been heavily modified and packed with modern technology. The body of the Cadillac had two feet chopped off of it to start with. A custom Roadster Shop chassis was made for the shortened body to ride on. Under the hood, an LT4 engine was bolted into place to provide horsepower. If Cadillac was going to make the CTS-V in 1967, it would have looked like the Vanilla Gorilla.

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Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. Brian enjoys anything loud, fast, and fun.
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