The 2023 Detroit Autorama Great 8

If you want to win The Ridler award at the Detroit Autorama, you have to first make The Great 8. Just making the Great 8 is an accomplishment for any builder and validates all the hard work that’s put into a project. Here’s your 2023 Great 8, which is your favorite?

Kathy Cargill’s Stunning 1969 Dodge Super Bee

Kathy Cargill’s 1969 Dodge Super Bee is one of the slickest B-body platform cars you’ll ever see. Brian Mosbek was tasked with building the Super Bee for Cargill, and he did one heck of a job. The Super Bee is powered by a Gen III HEMI and is backed by a 727 automatic transmission. Mosbek added a Heidts Pro G front and rear suspension to the Super Bee to give it the perfect stance. 

Ron Gorrell took care of all the bodywork for the Super Bee and laid down the paint. The electrical work and wiring was done by Tim Christensen. KTRE built the 392 cubic-inch HEMI and prepared the 727 transmission. Russ Lupinek is the man behind the keyboard that tunes the Super Bee for Cargill. 

Luigi Deriggi’s 1950 Mercury “Maximus” 

If you’re going to name a car Maximus, it better be something special, and the team at Pro-Comp Custom did just that for Luigi Deriggi. The Mercury that Deriggi brought to the Detroit Autorama is a dream build wrapped up in a sexy shade of Candy Root Beer. Pro-Comp Custom skillfully set the 1950 Mercury body on an Art Morrison chassis that rides on a custom Air Ride suspension. Paul Atkins put together a one-off interior that includes a Sparc Industries steering wheel. 

Maximus is powered by a stout Coyote-based engine from Ford. On top of the Ford mill, you’ll find a trick-looking Borla Induction stack injection system. A custom Kooks mandrel bent exhaust system transfers the exhaust gases from the engine to the ears of anybody around the Mercury. The finishing touch for Maximus is a custom set of wheels that were created by Chris Boyd. 

Jim McDaniel’s Custom 1958 “ElCameo” Truck

Chevrolet never produced an ElCameo, but that didn’t stop Jim McDaniel and Dave Kindig from dreaming one up. The ElCameo is based on a 1958 Chevy truck that was heavily modified by Hot Rod Construction. A custom Art Morrison chassis with a full coilover suspension serves as the foundation for McDaniel’s truck. Hot Rod Construction did some heavy-duty customization work to the truck, including some sectioning, pie cutting, and pancaking to create the unique look of the ElCameo. The PPG Vibrance Collection custom Copper paint and black along with the Billet Specialties B forged wheels give the truck a signature look. 

McDaniel wanted the ElCameo to have plenty of rip, so the Hot Rod Construction crew stuffed a 443 cubic-inch small block chevy under the hood that makes 560 horsepower and 569 lb-ft of torque. The engine is controlled by a Holley HP EFI system. Behind the engine, you’ll find a TREMEC TR 3550 five-speed transmission and Strange Engineering fab 9 rearend. 

George Conrad’s 1978 “King Coyote” Ford Mustang 

George Conrad’s King Coyote could be the most radical take you’ll ever see on the Mustang II platform. The King Coyote is sporting some really well-thought-out appearance modifications that most people won’t catch. The front bumper from a 1967 Mustang was tucked, modified, and fitted to the body of the King Coyote. A track-inspired front valance and flush-mounted windshield were also added to the Mustang. 

You can’t call a Mustang King Coyote without a Coyote engine, right? Well, not only did Conrad stuff a Coyote engine in between the fenders of his Mustang, a Whipple supercharger was added for good measure. The trick billet aluminum air boxes aren’t just there for show, that’s how the Whipple is fed fresh air. A set of Kelsey Hays-inspired billet wheels round out the Kingo Coyote’s killer looks. 

Photo gallery


“Rome”, Shawn Nichoalds’ 1967 Nova

The city of Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Shawn Nichoalds’ 1967 Nova of the same name. Samson Design really dug into the Nova and added an epic amount of custom touches to the car to create a unique ride for Nichoalds. The Nova’s body has been smoothed, shaved, channeled, and filled in numerous locations. Even a Nova expert would be hard-pressed to catch all the fabrication work that’s been done to Rome, that’s how good the modifications are. 

A healthy 496 cubic-inch mill rests under the hood of the Nova and supplies plenty of horsepower. A TCI 4L80E transmission sends the power to a narrowed 9” rearend from Belman Fabrication. The rear suspension consists of a custom 4-link setup with QA1 coilover shocks. The Nova uses a Total Cost Involved Mustang II front clip with Total Cost Involved coilover shocks.  

David and Kenny Snodgrass’ 1955 Chevy Convertable “Chrome Blues”

David and Kenny Snodgrass rolled up their sleeves and built one heck of a 1955 Chevy called Chrome Blues. The body modifications of Chrome Blues include a shortened rear body pan, redesigned bumpers, shortened front splash pan, frenched radio antenna, custom firewall, and much more. A mixture of Twisted Blue Pearl with Orange Effect, and Sunset Gold were sprayed on the body. Chrome Blues’ massaged body rides on a custom tubular chassis that features hidden body bolts, fuel lines, and battery cables. 

A custom LS3 engine has been matched to a 4L60E transmission are the stars of the drivetrain. Fusco Upholstery took care of creating a custom interior for Chrome Blues that matches the exterior modifications perfectly. Overall, there are over 8,000 man-hours of work wrapped up in the construction of Chrome Blues. 

The Modern Mustang, Rejean Desjardins’ GT 427 1965 Mustang

What would a 1965 Mustang look like if it was built today using current technology? Well,  Rejean Desjardins answered that question with his GT 427 Mustang. At first glance, the GT 427 could pass for a really nice Pro Touring or Restomod build, but it’s when you start peeling back the layers you find all the modern touches and attention to detail that Desjardins built into the Mustang. 

The body of the GT 427 features a trick one-piece front end, carbon fiber roof overlay, flush-mounted glass, and numerous seams deleted around the car. Inside the Mustang, you can easily miss the 10-point roll cage that’s been tucked away in the headliner and other panels. The GT 427 is powered by Ford’s most technologically advanced mill, a 302 cubic-inch Coyote mill that’s controlled by a MoTeC ECU. 

Tim Hampel’s 1953 Chevy Truck the “Silver Ghost”

Tim Hampel brought his 1953 Chevy truck to Killer Hot Rods and tasked them with building a sweet ride, the final result is the Silver Ghost. The Silver Ghost’s body has been worked over in the most subtle of ways to ensure every part fits correctly. The chassis was modified and boxed in to allow the team at Killer Hot Rods to close up the seams so the brake and fuel lines could be hidden. Under the Silver Ghost, you’ll find a host of parts from QA1 to keep it rolling down the road. 

When the hood of the Silver Ghost is up, you get to see the rowdy supercharged 468 cubic-big block in all its glory. The engine is controlled by a Holley EFI system and receives spark from an MSD ignition. Killer Hot Rods partnered with Delgato’s Interior to create a custom interior that uses weathered ultra leather and gauges from Classic Instruments. 

Well, there you have, the best of the best at the Detriot Autorama. The judges are going to have their hands full picking out the top car from this group!


About the author

Brian Wagner

Spending his childhood at different race tracks around Ohio with his family’s 1967 Nova, Brian developed a true love for drag racing. Brian enjoys anything loud, fast, and fun.
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