Detroit Autorama and 2016 Ridler Award winner

'Olds Cool' is Ridler winner
The 2016 Ridler Award went to Billy and Debbie Thomas' 1939 Oldsmobile Model 60 convertible | Margaret Hehr photos
The 2016 Ridler Award went to Billy and Debbie Thomas’ 1939 Oldsmobile Model 60 convertible | Margaret Hehr photos

Although only the cowl and a couple pieces of the doors came from a General Motors-produced Oldsmobile, the “Olds Cool,” a 1939 Oldsmobile Model 60 convertible, won the Don Ridler Memorial Award last weekend at the 64th annual Detroit Autorama.

Along with the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster prize presented at the Grand National Roadster Show, the Ridler is one of the two most important awards a hot rod can win.

“Olds Cool” was built by Harold Chapman and his team at Customs & Hot Rods of Anice, Texas, for car owners Debbie and Billy Thomas of Georgetown, Texas. Chapman used cues from the original ’39 Old ‘vert Model 60 but wanted to bring the styling elegantly forward.

Some 60 vehicles were eligible for the Ridler this year. The Great 8 finalists were selected in preliminary competition before the champion is crowned. The 2016 Great 8 included:

  • 1937 Ford Deluxe Coupe by Kenny Welch of Kennys Rod Shop of Boise, Idaho
  • 1938 Graham 97 “Shark” owned by Michael and Patricia Markin of Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • 1939  Oldsmobile Model 60 Convertible “Olds Cool” owned by Billy and and Debbie Thomas of Georgetown, Texas
  • 1940 Willys Coupe “Full Throttle” owned by Greg Malvaso of Murfreesboro, Tennessee
  • 1941 Ford Pick Up “Mirage” owned by Richard Broyles of Jonesborough, Tennessee
  • 1952 Mercedes-Benz 170S four-door sedan owned by Mark Gooden of Marshall, Missouri
  • 1961 Chevrolet Impala “Double Bubble” owned by Joe Horisk of Wilmington, Delaware
  • 1976 Ford XB Falcon “X Boss” owned by Chris and Coleen Bitmead of Orange Grove,  Western Australia
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Photography by Margaret Hehr