The Renaissance Roadster Wins The Ridler Award At Autorama 2017


Hand built by Steve’s Auto Restoration (S.A.R). The Renaissance Roadster took home the Ridler award at the 2017 Detroit Autorama

The 2017 Megauir’s Autorama was a spectacular event that filled the Cobo Center with outstanding cars from wall to wall. With the Great 8 Finalists announced early Friday morning to show goers, and Rod Authority staff, did their best to try and predict just which car would take home the prestigious Ridler award at the 65th annual event.

The competition was both fierce and diverse this year, with three trucks, two fender-less Fords, a C1 and C2 Corvette, and a hand built roadster all making the final 8. No truck has ever won the award and many were predicting that this might be the year that would change.


Each of these vehicles had a fighting chance at the award – but there could only be one winner and this year’s accolades go to Steve’s Auto Restorations and their now Ridler winning creation known as the Renaissance Roadster.

Orginally drawn by Chris Ito, the double R is a re-imaging of the ’33 Ford Roadster, something Henry Ford would have never dreamt of, but nothing he would be ashamed of either.


A full fendered two door car, the body is made entirely of 3003 aluminum. A painstaking undertaking but one that was clearly worth pursuing considering that it even stopped metal shaping master Gene Winfield in his tracks.

Hand formed, even Gene Winfield stopped to admire the Renaissance Roadster

Protecting the car front and rear are custom bumpers, the rear bumper completely hand formed, and the front CNC machined. Both bumpers are fit with LEDs for turn signals up front and brake & turn signals in the rear. Above the front bumper are S.A.R. headlight buckets that use modified Chrysler lenses held in by custom made bezels. High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights and subtle halos provide illumination for going down the road.


The beauty of this Ridler winner is more than skin deep because underneath the body lies a chassis built with the same amount of care as the body. The frame is also hand formed, but aluminum wasn’t the choice here. Instead 3/16-inch steel was used along with one and a half inch diameter chromoly tubing.

From there, S.A.R built a suspension system exclusively for this car. The front suspension is a split tube axle configuration that has CNC machined hair pins and remote-mounted polished shocks that were adorned with machined ends and frame mounts. The steering is rack and pinion with CNC machined tie rods.


In the rear the shocks are again remote-mounted with CNC machined A-arms that join CNC’d half shafts and a CNC drive shaft. The driveshaft is connected to a 4L60 transmission on one end, and a custom differential on the other end that houses a Mustang third member.

The CNC machine at S.A.R must have been working non-stop during this car build because the wheels are also CNC machined. True directional pieces, they twist forward slightly, all “throwing” towards the front of the car. ‘RR’ emblems have been cut into the center caps as the icing on the cake.

Behind the high gloss chrome wheels are Wilwood disc brakes that have CNC machined backing plates that feature directional openings that match that of the wheels.


Leather and cloth are the materials used to cover the custom built seats and door panels. In front of the custom (CNC’d of course) steering wheel is a 1930 Nash instrument cluster that is fit with custom Classic Instruments gauges.


Below the dash are machined pedals that utilize hand fabricated linkage to provide throttle and braking inputs. The hand formed hard top that covers the interior is completely removable making this car befitting of the term roadster.


Under hood is a #29 anniversary edition big block Chevrolet 427. Some of you might balk at the thought of a Chevy motor in a vehicle built to emulate a golden era Ford, but this mill is a work of art.

The engine is topped with a modified Edelbrock intake manifold and makes it’s presence known via a stainless steel exhaust system that terminates through CNC tail pipes.


Ground smooth before it was painted, and topped with a custom air cleaner, the motor also features CNC machined valve covers in addition to a CNC machined oil pan.


The Renaissance Roadster was an exercise in perfection and rose to the top of a very competitive show field.

Congratulations to owner’s Buddy Jordan and Steve Frisbie along with the build and design crew at Steve’s Auto Restorations. Well done boys!

About the author

Dave Thomas

Currently living near Toronto, Dave spends much of his free time behind a camera at car events, and likes just about anything with wheels, but usually the lower the better. When not taking photos, writing articles, or going upside down on his bike he can be found in the shop wrenching on his 1951 GMC pickup.
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