Every year, the Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama, one of the most widely respected car shows in the hot rod hobby, hand their best-in-show winner hot rodding’s top honour, the Don Ridler Memorial Award.

But there are a few criteria cars must meet to win it: they have to be making their show debut at the Autorama, for example; they have to be able to run and drive; and they first have to qualify for the Pirelli Great 8, the specially selected eight cars judged the top of the crop at the show.

The scrutiny these cars face is so fastidious, most owners and builders consider it an honour just to have their vehicle nominated to be a part of that eight-car showcase.

Autofocus attended the 64th annual Detroit Autorama presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts from February 26 through 28, and snapped all of the Pirelli Great 8 contenders.

The Ridler award ended up going to “Olds Cool,” a 1939 Oldsmobile Series 60 convertible owned by Billy Thomas of Corpus Christi, Texas, and built by Texas’ Customs and Hot Rods of Andice. The car is 90 percent reworked sheet metal, and is powered by a 650-horsepower 470-cube V8.

In 2015, the Ridler was awarded to a Canadian-owned car, Jeff Voth’s Foose-designed “Impostor” Impala; and in 2014, it went to a Canadian-built car, a ’64 Riviera customized by JF Launier of B.C.