Every year, the Championship Auto Shows series host its most popular event in Michigan. The Detroit Autorama celebrates America’s enduring fascination with all things cars. While the auto shows we normally report on show off new models and the cutting edge of innovation, the Autorama celebrates the legacy of many of the most famous name plates and encourages ingenuity and reverence for vintage cars that have been preserved, restored, or customized.
One man helped boost the Detroit Autorama to the most exciting such event in the nation, and that was Don Ridler. He was a famous promoter who not only knew cars, but knew car people. His creativity and enthusiasm made the Autorama what it is, so to honor his passing an award has been given in his name since 1963 to the car that best exemplifies engineering, creativity, and workmanship.
This year, the Ridler Award went to J.F. Launier’s 1964 Buick Riviera, and when you look at it, it’s easy to see why. Dubbed “Rivision” by Launier, it reportedly took six years to bring it to its current condition, and what a condition it is. The Riviera traditionally has two rows of seats, but the back row is missing from this one, replaced by twin turbochargers. Under its formidable hood is a 6.2-liter LS-series engine, and with those turbos feeding it from the rear, it makes 850 horsepower. That isn’t a typo. Eight-hundred and fifty horsepower. It’s rear wheel driven with a six-speed manual.
There’s even more chrome on this car than a normal Buick, thanks to extra ventilation on the front, sides, and rear. Combine it with the most immaculate honey-yellow paint job you’ve ever seen, and it’s easy to understand why this car drew crowds.
The Ridler Award comes with a $10,000 prize, which is totally symbolic compared to what Launier put into his Riviera. He says instead of parking the car in his garage, he wants to find a stretch of road long enough to find its max speed.
If you want to read more on “Rivision” or see more pictures, we found this story on the Yahoo! Autos page, here. If you’re interested in the history of the Autorama and the Ridler Award, visit this page on the official website. Just want to see what kinds of quality vehicles or would-be hotrods Buick offers today? Stop by Leith Buick GMC – we’ll be happy to show you our inventory.