1940 Ford Wins Ridler Award at 2013 Detroit Autorama Car Show

Rob and Deb Cizek accepted the 2013 Ridler Award here at the Cobo Center in Detroit. They are the owners of the 1940 Ford Coupe "Checkered Past" that has won the coveted Don Ridler Memorial trophy which goes to the best custom street rod in the country. (Cars On Line.com photo.)

'40 Ford Wins Ridler Award at 2013 Detroit Autorama Car Show

DETROIT, MI -- It was a truly historic moment. A little teary eyed and incredibly grateful for the honor, Rob Cizek accepted the Don Ridler Memorial Trophy as owner of the car that had just been voted the "best" custom street rod in the country. The car called "Checkered Past" is a 1940 Ford Coupe entered in the Radical Custom Rod Coupe category here at the Detroit Autorama. Rob told us it took three-and-a-half years to build. It is virtually flawless in detail and paint. This was the 50th Anniversary of the Ridler Award and the competition was brutal this year.

All eyes were on Rob and Deb Cizek of Bennington, Nebraska as the winner was announced in the Cobo Center ballroom. A little dazed by the announcement, the couple broke out in a laugh of relief and hugged one another as they realized they had just won the coveted Ridler Trophy with their exquisitely designed 1940 Ford Coupe.

"I was just numb," Ron told us. "I couldn't believe it. I started this car as a project that I was gonna' build by myself," he explained. Then he met Andy Leach, a local Omaha chassis fabricator who showed genuine talent as a builder. With Andy's help and skill at design and construction they were on their way to making this more than a backyard project. "Andy showed so much talent at building street rods that we decided to open a shop in Omaha. This is the first car we've done complete from project to finished show car," Cizek said. Cizek's rod shop is called Cal Automotive Creations.

Cal Automotive Creations may have massaged the 1940 Ford with spectacular attention to detail, but it is the paint that makes this car the winning show rod that it is. The spectacular PPG paint was done by none other than Charley Hutton at his Color Studio. He used a blend of three Envirobase colors, Checkered Red, Madysen Gold and Tonic Brown. Click the photos below to enlarge.

The bodywork was flawless and the unique three-staged paint job will be copied by hot rodders for decades to come.

The engine builder is a young man named Erik Hansen who joined the Cal Automotive Creations team in Omaha. Cizek tells us he is a "wizard with Ford flatheads." Hansen said he chose a Ford AB Flathead to be the base engine for the car. He built it up, added some digital injection and topped it with a custom fabricated intake. Ad a Bowler transmission and Ride Tech suspension and you have the basis for this incredible ride. Leach said he modified a Heidts rear suspension give it the right ride height in the back.

Some of our Facebook fans noted the gold annodized custom made wheels with Ford V8 centers. They match the intake and custom "hat" on the injection system. It is all designed to give it an elegant and clean look.

From talking to him you get the impression that Cizek is genuinely appreciative of the honor and humbled to have won it against the quality of competition that showed up this year.

Cars On Line's crew is here in the Motor City to provide live coverage of the event for all of you who could not make it to the show. Our readers were invited to follow our coverage here on this page and on our Facebook page all weekend.

The show ended Sunday evening at the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. On Sunday at 6 PM we found out who the winner of the prestigious Ridler Award was. A field of 80 cars had been weened down to just eight contenders competing for the Ridler trophy. The MSRA calls it the Great 8. It is an honor just to be selected to be among the eight top finalists. Here, below, you can see the rest of the Great 8.


A Grim Reaper themed 1972 Chevy Short Bed Pro Street was brought to the show by Buddy and Kim Schulz of Washington, Texas. The big 468 BBC cranks out 1,000 horsepower, built by G&G Performance. They also built the custom 8-71 supercharger, Turbo 400 automatic transmission and electronic fuel injection. The paint and body were done by Hot Rod Joe's which also did the the full tube chassis and narrowed 9" Ford rear end. The Western style custom leather interior was done by Steve Holcomb. The main builder was Joe Brown at Hot Rod Joe's. Click photos to get larger view.


Restorations are all about second chances. That's what this 1956 Buick 2-Dr Post Sedan is all about as well. Already with a Ridler Award to his credit, designer Troy Trepanier put his Rad Rides by Troy team to work creating a contender for another Ridler for owners Mark and Ellen Willman of Davenport, Iowa. Trepanier is a wizard with digital fuel-injection so he put a 413 Buick Nailhead engine in this one with a Twin Turbo package. He also used black nickel plating to create the unusual look. Add in a Bowler transmission and Rad Rides signature Wilwood 6- and 4- piston calipers, and you have a very unusual classic custom. Advanced Plating of Nashville did the unique chrome pieces. You can look at this one for hours and not see all the subtle custom tweaks. Click photos for larger view.


High tech work on a low slung Corvette custom. That's what this totally re-designed version of a 1965 Corvette Coupe will be remembered for. Owners Alan and Loretta Woodall of Cary, North Carolina call it the "C2/SS". The designer was Eric Brockmeyer out of Viera, Florida. The custom designed interior and one-off custom wheels were the work of Greening Auto Company in Nashville, Tennessee where the car was built and assembled. That is a Paul Atkins interior (no surprise.) Advanced Plating out of Nashville had the task of doing the difficult custom plating (such as the custom built bumpers and one-piece custom windshield) required to pull off this unusual look. It has an LS7 engine and GM 6L80E automatic transmission.

THE GREAT 8: 1934 FORD SEDAN "DAD's '34"

In the 1930's Ken Seresun's father found a 1934 Ford Tudor Sedan and brought it home in brand new condition. Fast forward to 2009, and son Ken enlisted an up and coming custom designer named Bobby Anderson in his home state of Arizona to begin the restoration. When Ken saw what Anderson could do he kept encouraging him to take it to the next level. After four years the 1934 Ford Tudor you see here was complete, perfect in every way. Look at the chopped and rolled roof. Custom builders who came by to see it were amazed. This is the car we thought might have had the inside track at taking the Ridler Award this year.


It may be the finest classic pickup truck build of all time. You can't stop looking at this 1957 Chevy Pickup owned by Alan Beers of Owasso, Oklahoma. He brought it to the Detroit Autorama to battle for the Ridler Award. So far the beautiful custom classic truck has made it to the pinnacle of the street rod hobby, the Great 8. The bodywork on this incredible custom is stellar with every piece of metal being remolded to its current form. The motor is a 540 BB Chevy breathing 650 horsepower throught the stacked Crower intake. It's been a while since a truck has won the Ridler Award.


John Mayer's Fearless has a strong shot at winning it all here at the Detroit Autorama. It is a 1935 Ford Phaeton entered in the Radical Show Rod category. It is flawless in build and metal work. No surprise ... the body was designed and prepped by Harry Willett at Willett Coachworks in the Chicago area. Finish bodywork and paint was done by Pete Sanchez at Custom Cars Unlimited. Rick Ceyer, builder of award winning race and street motors. Concept, design and interior was done by John Mayer himself at his Ogden Top & Trim Shop. Nice advertising for his business I'd say. Tim O'Connell, who build the 2004 Ridler Award winner, did the chassis fabrication on this one. You can see how stiff the competition is for this year's Great 8. Click the photos below to enlarge.


The first of the Great 8 contenders that we saw here today was a 1934 Ford Altered Street Coupe. It just blew us a way. It was brought to the show by Christian Harker of New York, New York. Body and paint were by Unique, and the interior by Jim Griffin Interiors. The blown 427 is fed by old school looking accelerator stacks. It was built by Wheeler Racing Engines. Click the photos below for a bigger view.


This is shaping up to be one of the most memorable Autorama's in history as it celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Ridler Award. They have 25 of the past Ridler Award winners here at the show on display. This special display was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see so many past winners all in one place.

In the display of past Ridler Award winners we found one of our favorites. The 1936 Ford Roadster which was built by Chip Foose and his Foose Design team for Ken Reister in 2005. You'll know it as one of the great Ridler Award winners of all time. It was the third time in four years that the Foose team had won the Ridler Award. This car had over 20,000 fabricated custom parts.

The 1935 Ford Roadster below is another of our favorites. It won the Ridler Award in 2006. It is owned by Karen and Kevin Alstott. It was built by Lakeside Rods

Among the top Ridler winners is 1967 Deora custom pickup by the Alexander Brothersthe 1967 Deora, a space age design by the Alexander Brothers, a big favorite among Autorama goers. It was made into a 1/24 scale model that many of us built as youngsters. It is said to be the most popular model car ever produced by Mattel. Other past winners that will be here are the 1934 Mercury Coupe (shown above) designed and built by Chip Foose in 2003.

The "Tribute to the Batmobile" display is one of the most popular here at the Detroit Autorama this year. It includes an authentic tribute to the Batmobile built by Dean Batmobile, TV series, 1965, famous TV carJeffries and George Barris for the 1960's TV series (shown here.) Many think the 1989 Batmobile was the best one built by Hollywood. Warner Brothers used Tim Burton's unique style of directing, and Anton Furst was hired as production designer for Gotham City and a new version of the Batmobile. Then in 2005, for Batman Begins, the Batmobile referred to as the Tumbler was created and has been used in the last three movies. At 9 feet wide and 15 feet long, the car weighed in at 2.5 tons but is still capable of 0-60 mph in under six seconds. See the video below.