The prestige of the Don Ridler Memorial Award more commonly called the Ridler cannot be denied. Nearly two dozen hot rods came to Detroit this year with the intent on becoming the next Ridler winner-but only one can talk home the prize. However, the first step is to make it to the Great 8 (presented by Pirelli Tire) and that in and of itself is one hell of an accomplishment.

As is customary the Great 8 is selected Thursday night and announced by noon Friday. Each of the Great 8 recipients receives a custom jacket and $1,000 cash from Pirelli Tire. It truly is an "award" to make it to the Great 8 given the level of competition. Well, next stop is the Ridler presentation but for now let's honor the following.

Chris and Anita Conly of Milan, Michigan is one of the chosen few for his '33 Ford fenderless Cabriolet. The car was built at Lobeck's V8 shop (chassis, assembly and PPG custard color paint) out of Cleveland, Ohio while the interior was handled by Portage Trim.

Harold and Rhea Schrader brought out their chocolate brown 1935 Ford designed and built by Tucci Hot Rods out of Marcy, New York. RJ customs handled the PPG rich dark brown paint, while McFarland Upholstery stitched the superior interior, Sherms Plating handled the brightwork, and others involved include Greening Auto Company, Profile Racing, and Arcuri Design.

Another of the Ridler finalists is the '40 Ford sedan painted in a brilliant candy orange belonging to Nick Pinto.

Doug Cooper of Oyster Bay Cove, New York brought out his '32 Ford B400 built at the shop of Alan Johnson, Johnson's Hot Rods in Gadsden, Alabama. The deep maroon paint is from BASF and Glasurit on the paint Dayton wires, Bowler Transmission, Bilstein shocks, Borgeson steering, Dynamat, California Car Cover, Vintage Air, Greening Auto, Vintage Air, Flowmaster, Walker Radiator, Piloti, Jon Wright Custom Chrome, Michelin tires, Intermold, Driveshaft Shop, and Paul Atkins Interiors.

Alton Love of Elkhart, Indiana brought his '56 Chevy 210 (post) and the brilliant fad paint (orange to purple) was handled by House of Kolors and Gary's Paintworks. Bruns Racecars built the chassis while M&M Interiors received the nod for the stitchwork and Advance Plating did the shinny stuff. The engine is a 582 inch Brodix (aluminum block and heads) through the efforts of American Speed and Street & Performance.

Gordy Peters of Sunfish Lake, Minnesota managed a Great 8 for his '39 Ford convertible. The suspension is Kugel Komponents while the powertrain is based on a hipo 383 from GM Performance Parts outfitted with a Street & Performance tuned port injection that runs its power through a 700-R4 trans. Pirelli PZero tires are wrapped around the Budnik wheels. American Auto Wire handled the electrics while Pioneer sound system brings the tunes, and Grille Art provided the custom grille.

Keith Hulin of New Iberia, Louisiana is another of the finalists with his candy blue '41 Willys built at Hot Rod Joe's Rod & Custom of Lafayette, Louisiana. The body features 150 modifications and sports a 502 inch GM Performance Parts big block with custom Hilborn injection and 8-71 blower shipping the power rearward through a custom TH400 eventually to a custom Winters quick-change. The chassis features 13-inch Wilwood disc brake system hidden behind the Boyd Coddington wheels and M/T S-R series rubber. Others helping in the project include Advance Plating, Scotts Hot Rods, Street & Performance, Classic Instruments, Gary's Fab Shop, and M&M Hot Rod Interiors.

Paul Ryckman of Ennismore, Ontario, Canada was on hand with his metallic copper '41 Willys coupe built by John Saltern of Cavan County Trucks. Power comes from a blown 468-inch big-block Chevy run through a 700-R4 tranny. Advance Plating was in on the brightwork while John Currier handled other polishing chores. Tube chassis features Aldan shocks, Wilwood disc brakes, and a 9-inch Ford rearend. The interior sports custom leather work by Bill Sherry, Moon gauges, B&M shifter, Sony sound, and a custom console and dash. The bodywork includes shaved doors, suicide mounting, '37 Ford headlights, flush taillight bar, flush mounted glass, hidden hood struts, and a handmade.