Greg Hrehovcsik and John Martin, Imagine’s owners, shared the honors. Martin created the custom color.

Coloradans take home 2018 Ridler Award with PPG-painted car

Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop in Alamosa takes top prize with 1957 Chevy hardtop

Strongsville, Ohio—A heavily customized 1957 Chevrolet dubbed “Imagine” and sporting a gleaming silver PPG finish claimed the Don Ridler Memorial Award at the recent 66th Detroit Autorama. The annual event, a gathering of custom-built cars and trucks, drew an competitive field of entrants vying for the honor. It was the sixth time in 11 years that an entry painted with automotive products from PPG took the prize.

Established in 1963, the Ridler Award, named after the man who made the Detroit Autorama the nation’s premier custom car show, is regarded as the ultimate accolade in custom design brilliance. It is presented to the most outstanding custom car or truck making its first public appearance at the show. Along with the Ridler Award trophy, the owner of the winning car receives a cash prize and a special embroidered jacket to commemorate the win. This year Greg Hrehovcsik and John Martin, Imagine’s owners, shared the honors.

Imagine started life as an ordinary Chevy hardtop, but co-owner and custom builder John Martin and the talented team at Johnny’s Auto Trim & Rod Shop in Alamosa, Colo., gave it a new identity. Martin’s crew handled the build that features heavy body modifications, a complete custom chassis and full leather interior. Tom Stark, owner of Precision Design Fabrications of Denver, helped out with the project. Wayne Saunders at Alternative Automotive Design in Colorado Springs and Johnny’s did hundreds of hours of bodywork and line sculpting. Once it was built, Saunders — originally from England and known as “The English Painter” — finished the Chevy with “Imagine Silver,” a custom color Martin created. Saunders applied a variety of PPG products including DELTRON NCP271 Corrosion Resistant Primer, VIBRANCE COLLECTION VP2100 Polyester Primer, Deltron DBC Basecoat and DCU2021 CONCEPT Urethane Clear along with DSC5250 DITZLER Satin Clear to give the car its lustrous finish.

To win a Ridler Award, a car must impress the judges sufficiently to qualify for the final round of competition, known as the Great Eight. Martin made it to the finals in 2011 with a crowd-pleasing Corvette. This time he made it all the way to the top.

“Tux,” a 1969 Camaro owned by Stuart Adams and built by the team at Detroit Speed, Inc., Mooresville, N.C., made the cut. This Great Eight finalist was given a lustrous black finish — hence the name Tux, as in tuxedo — by painters Michael Neighbors and Austin Moore. They used several PPG Deltron products including Concept DCC9300 Acrylic Urethane Black Single Stage and DCU2021 Urethane Clear on the body with DBC9700 Basecoat Black and GLOBAL REFINISH SYSTEM D8115 Matte Clearcoat on the car’s tail.

Eddie Denkenberger at Superior Auto Works in Frederica, Del., steered his entry, a 1967 Camaro named “Nickleback,” into the Great Eight. Nickleback, owned by Chris and Greg Allen, father and son, sports a gleaming finish of custom colors: “Sandstone Gold” and “Lava Rock” with “Harvest Gold” pinstripes. Denkenberger did his own work spraying PPG’s ENVIROBASE High Performance basecoat and Vibrance Collection VC5700 Ditzler Custom Clear. The tri-color combination caught the judges’ attention.

A 1934 Ford pickup owned by Danielle Lutz also claimed a spot in the Great Eight. The truck was built in just eleven months by the well-established customizer Jason Graham and his capable crew at Graham’s Hot Rods in Portland, Tenn. Graham created an original color he calls “Washington Blue” for the show-stopping pickup. He painted the truck himself using PPG’s Deltron DP90LF Non Sanding Epoxy Primer and Concept DCC Acrylic Urethane Single Stage to get the exact hue and shine that would set the truck apart from the pack.

The Great Eight also welcomed Chris Ryan’s own “Scarlet Lady,” a 1956 Continental Mark II with a dazzling red glass-flake finish that could not be ignored. Chris, owner of Ryan’s Rod & Kustom in Ninety Six, S.C., did his own painting using several PPG Deltron and Vibrance Collection products — including CRYSTALLANCE Glass Flake Collection Obsession 936717 Tri-coat, RADIANCE II candy colors DMX212 Red (Yellow Shade), along with DMX214 Red Violet and Crystallance VM4501 Silver — to give the Scarlet Lady’s finish its intense sparkle and the distinctive finish Chris wanted.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.