Its shape hints at handmade but the steering wheel began life as one of Juliano's Interior Products' banjo-type wheels. James Crow modified the tri-bar opening, added center spears, merged the spokes at the narrow end, and curled them around the rim. He also opened the hub to accommodate a N.O.S. Dodge Ram horn button.

To maintain absolute control over the pickup's finish quality, SAR elected to prep and paint it entirely in-house. The materials aren't any different than what any of us have at our disposal but the effort is: it reportedly took more hours just to fit, prep, and paint this truck than it usually takes to build most indoor show cars.

The door and dash inserts appear to be luxurious burled wood but it's entirely charade; they are in fact formed aluminum. What gives them their grain is a water-transfer decal applied by Aqua Graphics.

Following the precedent that the SAR crew established with the rest of the car, Sid Chavers rendered Ito's designs in leather ... and plywood, foam, and steel for that matter. In his trademark fashion, he cut Baltic-birch plywood to fit the cab and sculpted foam to fit its occupants. Naturally, he trimmed the seats, the door panels, and the various aluminum garnish panels that the SAR crew made in rust-colored leather. But that isn't the extent of his work; a jack of many trades, he also whittled blocks of wood to create the doors' armrests and milled the door pulls above them from aluminum. More than merely make the boot that conceals the shifter base, he also made the metal garnish that finishes it at the transmission tunnel.

Not a single piece of trim in or on the car existed prior to its construction. The front bumper resulted from assembling seven purpose-formed parts. Rather than merely open-back blades, the bumpers took shape as clamshells welded together. A foundry cast the bumper uprights from patterns drawn by Ito. Sherm's Custom Plating finished the bumper, however, between the copper and nickel baths Sherm's returned the individual parts to SAR for fine-tuning.

The grille shell's new profile required a custom insert, which Tim Bruning rendered in stainless bar stock and tubing. He also formed the horizontal grille material that fits within the openings in each hood-side blister. Emblem Magic in Grand River, Ohio, restored the original grille crest but Steve Frisbie (SAR) personally tended to the lights. A restorer at heart with an affinity for headlights, he restored the '33 Chrysler housings and updated their reflectors with modern bulbs.

The pickup's late and somewhat quiet entry in the Autorama wasn't the only surprise that weekend: despite ranking highly among its Great 8 peers, it didn't win the Don Ridler Memorial Award. But that didn't necessarily surprise the SAR crew. In fact, they half expected it.

Outwardly the pickup they built had everything you'd expect of a Ridler contender: innovation, craftsmanship, and eye appeal. It even boasted a display some deemed more thought-out than its competitors. Only the truck lacked one thing: intent. "We never planned to build a car for the Autorama much less win it," SAR's Chuck Barr admitts. So why go to all the trouble? "We just realized that we were close to finishing it when the show was coming up so we just thought, 'Hey, why don't we debut it there?'"

That's not a case of sour grapes. The pickup's intense level of workmanship led anyone who saw it to ask whether it was destined for Detroit, a question frequently met with hardly more than indecision or speculation. It was by the crewmembers' admission a show car, just not that kind of show car.

Of course that doesn't mean that Steve's Auto Restorations wouldn't one day like to call one of its cars a Ridler winner. For the past few years Steve Frisbie's crew has been working on one hell of a roadster. Not to spoil anything, but he recently told us that he hasn't made up his mind whether he'll take that one to Detroit, either.