850-HP Buick Drives Off with Detroit Autorama’s 2014 Ridler Award

This custom 1964 Buick Riviera, aptly named the “Rivision,” won the 2014 Ridler Builder Award.

The Detroit Autorama’s Ridler Builder Award is one of the most prestigious and coveted honors among the North America’s classic hot-rod enthusiasts. And this year, bragging rights go to J.F. Launier, owner of Osoyoos, British Columbia’s JF Kustoms for his jaw-dropping custom 1964 Buick Riviera.

This canary yellow, 850hp stunner is the finished product of 200,000 hours of labor over a period of six years, plus a whopping $300,000 and some change. Per the Ridler Award rules, Launier’s Riviera, aptly renamed the “Rivision,” is a whole new creation from its arguably humbler beginnings, right down to the spark plugs, and the Detroit Autorama was its first public appearance. Over the course of its hotrod transition, it went from a four-seater to a two-seater and gained a 6.2-liter GM-sourced LS-series engine and a set of twin turbos, lending its 850hp capacity. It’s got a six-speed manual transmission. Waste gates and turbos are situated in the car’s trunk with heat vents blended into the rear tail lamps. Up front, the fenders lend additional venting with a hot-air exit built into the hood. Down below, the twin exhaust pipes combine to feed both turbos equally and help create a seamless, aerodynamic transmission and underbody.

The Rivision was deemed the frontrunner early on during the three-day show – a bit of a surprise considering it’s of a more recent vintage than most prior winners. Next up, Launier plans to take his prized and prize-winning Rivision on the road, in search of one long enough to hit 200mph. That, too is a bit of a surprise, considering many would opt for meticulously preserving the car with plans for auctioning it off to the highest bidder. Or perhaps, it’s testament to Launier’s true hotrodder persona.

The Ridler Builder Award, by the way, is named for the late Don Ridler, who joined the Detroit Autorama in 1957 as its promotions agent and publicist. His booking of then-popular entertainers including The Big Bopper, Duane Eddy and the Imperials sent the show’s attendance rates through the roof. He passed away unexpectedly in 1963 and show officials established the award his honor the next year.

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