The Detroit Autorama’s highest honor – The Don Ridler Memorial Award – was created in 1964 to honor the memory of the show’s earliest promoter and the individual who helped create the long-lasting legacy the event now enjoys.

Since its debut at the 1964 Detroit Autorama, the Ridler has become one of the country’s most prestigious automotive awards that concerns custom and hot rod car owners and builders. Given annually to an exceptional vehicle that falls under strict “never been shown before” guidelines, the folks who win this prize become members of a very elite group.

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.
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.

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. Operational functionality is something the judges strategically look at.
Once the final Ridler Contenders have been determined, the field is 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 immediately after the move-in process has been completed. The Great 8 Finalists are announced Friday morning and formally introduced at the Ridler’s Ball on Friday evening.
Meguiar’s currently 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 the Detroit Autorama.
If you are fortunate enough to win the Ridler Award, you will become an elite member of automotive history. The Detroit Autorama is one event produced annually by Championship Auto Shows, Inc., North America’s largest producer of indoor hot rod shows.