• Ridler Award
  • Detroit AutoramaThe Ridler Award


Thank you for your interest in the Ridler Award. This page briefly summarizes the man behind the award’s name,
lists past winners and includes a general guideline for those interested in competing for the award.

The Detroit Autorama Ridler Award is Presented By

Sponsored by Meguiar's

*** 2018 Ridler Award Winner!!! ***

Greg Hrehovcsik & Johnny Martin – Alamosa, CO – 1957 Chevrolet


2018 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award: The 1957 Chevrolet built by Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop

Written by Tim Bernsau from Street Rodder Magazine on March 4, 2018

2018 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award Winner: The 1957 Chevrolet built by Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop | Greg Hrehovcsik & Johnny Martin – Alamosa, CO

It’s official! The winner of the Don Ridler Memorial Award at the 2018 Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts is the 1957 Chevy 150 Hardtop owned by Greg & Judy Hrehovcsik and built by Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop in Alamosa, Colorado.

From the moment the doors of Cobo Center in downtown Detroit opened on Friday morning, the number of cars in contention for the Ridler had been reduced to the eight vehicles identified as the Great 8 Finalists. The question on everybody’s mind since then has been, “Which car will win?” And just minutes ago, on Sunday afternnon, the final announcement was made.

We’ve seen a million ’57 Chevys over the years, but few if any as completely and as imaginatively redone as “Imagine,” Greg & Judy’s extensively redesigned silver 150.

2018 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award Winner: The 1957 Chevrolet built by Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop | Greg Hrehovcsik & Johnny Martin – Alamosa, CO

The imagination behind “Imagine” began as many projects do, with a concept and an illustration. Designer Jason Rushforth provided the artwork and renderings for the Tri-Five. Since then, the project has gone through several iterations spanning more than a decade—even before going to Johnny Martin’s shop in Alamosa.

Taking on a 1957 Chevy for a radical rebuild is risky business. These are iconic and well-loved cars among enthusiasts. Making even mild modifications invites controversy. The team at Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop addressed that by charging full-speed ahead with literally hundreds of top to bottom, front to back modifications.

The first changes to get everybody’s attention are the numerous body mods. The stuff we love about ‘57s was retained, but tweaked. The roof was totally recontoured and the top was chopped three inches.

The window glass was sunk and laid back for a more aerodynamic profile. The popular 1957 bullets have been retained on the pancaked and sectioned hood—and can function as scoops for a pair of for small twin blowers or turbos. The body has been channeled three inches, and wedged and sectioned one inch in back and three in the front. The 19- and 21-inch one-piece custom wheels were designed and built to resemble stock hubcaps. The car was finished beautifully using PPG pint products.

2018 Detroit Autorama Ridler Award Winner by StreetScene Magazine

Power is provided by a Nelson Racing 515 cubic inch twin-turbo Chevy big-block engine, dresed up fancy with custom components. The beauty is also a beast—the engine is capable of more that 1,000 horsepower on pump gas. Feed it race fuel and the horsepower rating jumps to 1,800 hp. The engine is backed up by a modified Turbo 400 transmission. The Corvette rear is packed with 4.11:1 gears. The rear is suspended with custom fabricated coilovers. The interior is ’57 Chevy inspired, but with 21st Century styling, starting with the handcrafted bucket seats, split by a custom console. A new single insert was grafted into the dash and houses one-off gauges created by Classic Instruments. An Evod steering wheel was created to match the elegance and style of the rest of the cockpit.

Now the news of Greg & Judy Hrehovcsik’s proud win with their 1957 Chevy is all over Cobo Hall, America, and the planet Earth. Here at Cobo, participants from the 2018 Detroit Autorama are starting to take down their displays, moving out their cars, and prepare for their trips home. In garages and shops across the country, cars are already being built to compete for the 2019 Don Ridler Memorial Award. For the Hrehovcsiks, Johnny Martin, and everybody who contributed to the “Imagine” 1957 Chevy, 2018 belongs to them.



About Don Ridler

Don Ridler was a man with a very competitive spirit, excelling in athletics in high school and later at Michigan State University. His many achievements eventually landed him in the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. After college, Don coached Lawrence Tech’s basketball team and served as Athletic Director in the 40’s. After games, Don would contract entertainment such as Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller for dances. During this period, Don also produced the Michigan State Fair Grandstand shows and handled public relations for horse tracks in the Detroit area.

In the 1950’s, the producers of Autorama decided they needed promotional help to take the event to the next level, and turned to Don Ridler. With the help of Don’s creativity and professionalism, car enthusiasts flocked to the Coliseum at the Michigan State Fairgrounds to see some of the wildest hot rods that cruised the streets of the Motor City, and were entertained by acts such as Little Anthony, The Imperials, and The Big Bopper.

Don Ridler passed away in 1963 at the age of 54. It was immediately decided that an award be created to honor his memory. Don’s forté had always been his creativity. Therefore, it was decided that the award would honor individuals who are equally creative in building cars. The award, geared to honor new creations, is only eligible to cars shown for the first time.


Detroit Autorama Ridler AwardDon Ridler was the first professional promoter hired by the MHRA to assist them with the fledgling Autorama in the Fifties. With Don’s creativity and professional approach in promoting, Autorama was able to grow tremendously and eventually move to its present home at Cobo Center in 1961. In 1963, Autorama decided to honor Don Ridler, who had prematurely passed away, with an award given in his name.

Originally, the award was given to the Best Vehicle shown for the first time. Over the last fifty plus years, the award has evolved to better conform to new ideas, changing designs and concepts. Today it emphasizes creativity, engineering and quality workmanship. Anyone building a vehicle for Ridler competition should post these words on their garage wall. The vehicle that best represents those three areas will win the Ridler Award Sponsored by Meguiar’s.

In addition to those judging guidelines, there are a few hard and fast rules, with no exceptions:

The vehicle must make its first public showing at the Detroit Autorama. Showing the vehicle (or any unique part of the entry, i.e. frame, engine or body) at any indoor or outdoor show will make it ineligible for contention. Please feel free to contact us with questions about eligibility.

Except as otherwise set forth below, no photos or comments of the contending vehicle are to be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace or any other social media website or internet comment board or blog or sent via text message or email. Friends, family and other third parties with access to the vehicle must be advised of the above statement and the Ridler Award Qualifications.

Photos, artist renderings or videos showing the vehicle in a completed state or in finish color are not allowed, and will result in disqualification. All decisions concerning prior exposure and eligibility for the Ridler Award will be determined by the Michigan Hot Rod Association and Championship Auto Shows, Inc.

The vehicle must prove to be operable. It must start, stop, move forward and backward under its own power, turn left and right and stop using the brake pedal, and be driven to its display spot on the floor. Keep in mind that these guidelines are minimum qualifiers. Operational functionality is something the judges will look at.

Once the final Ridler Contenders have been determined, the field will be narrowed to eight finalists, which will be referred to as the Great 8 Finalists. Because of the number of entries contending, the process of elimination will begin on Thursday evening after move-in has been completed. Entries do not need to be 100% set-up, but should be at a state that they can be evaluated fairly. The Great 8 Finalists are announced Friday morning and introduced at the Ridler’s Ball on Friday evening.

If an entry is selected as a Great 8 Ridler Finalist, the car will not be eligible for any Autorama awards involving class judging and special awards. Owners and builders should also keep in mind that they will be asked during the weekend to open and close their vehicle to be checked for fit and finish, and to make sure everything is operational.

There will be a Great 8 Ridler Contenders’ meeting for the builders and owners. This meeting is an opportunity to meet the other finalists, the judging staff and ask questions on how your car will be judged.

Meguiar’s sponsors the Ridler Award, the most prestigious award in the indoor custom car show industry, and presents the Ridler Award winner with a cash prize of $10,000 at this year’s Detroit Autorama.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call (586) 771-7110 between the hours of 9am-5pm EST or email michhotrod@aol.com.

The Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama is one event produced annually by Championship Auto Shows, Inc., North America’s largest producer of indoor hot rod shows. The Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama is hosted by the Michigan Hot Rod Association.

Winner Archive

These creative minds and craftsman are past recipients of the Ridler Award. Those appearing with asterisks are deceased.

2010’s | 2000’s | 1990’s | 1980’s | 1970’s | 1960’s

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