As part of our complete coverage of the 2013 Detroit Autorama, here’s a mega photo gallery featuring all 49 Ridler Award winners from 1964 to present.
Most rodders are familiar with the story of Don Ridler and the Ridler Award. Ace promotions and marketing man for the Detroit Autorama, he helped put the event on the map, only to pass away, tragically, at the early age of 54. The Ridler Award was immediately created to keep his name and memory alive. This weekend will mark the 50th year of the prize.
Regarded as one of the top awards—indeed, if not the top award—in the hot rodding world, the Ridler has two unique features: First, unlike many awards, it’s open to any type of vehicle, street or race, and to all body styles, open and closed. Next, cars are only eligible for the Ridler (and the Great 8 finals from which the Ridler winner is selected) in their first public appearance. Cars shown previously, at the Autorama, in print, or elsewhere, cannot compete.
These two rules have gone a long way in shaping the unique collection of vehicles that have won the Ridler. The first winner in 1964 was a for-real race car, Al Bergler’s More Aggravation Comp dragster. Since then the award has been snared by T-buckets, a Corvette, Pro Street and Pro Stock cars. Anything that can be called a hot rod is potential Ridler material, though in recent years the field is dominated by the high-end street-rod scene.
Looking over the roster of Ridler winners is a little like looking through a family album and suddenly being reminded of all the hairstyles and clothing trends of past decades. Like every movement, hot rodding has had its fads and fashions, and not all of them have held up terribly well though the years. But that’s all part of the fun of this fond look back. Which vehicles are your favorites?