"Gold Digger," a stunning 1933 Ford Phaeton sporting a gleaming gold finish by PPG Industries' (NYSE:PPG) automotive refinish business, has won this year's Ridler Award. The honor, regarded as the most prestigious in the world of custom cars, was announced at the 58th Detroit Autorama at Cobo Hall. The car is owned by Tammy Ray of Dahlonega, Ga., making her the first woman to win the celebrated prize.
Ray has been a hot rod and custom car fan for 12 years. This was her second entry in the Ridler Award contest. In 2006, her car was among the "Great Eight" Ridler Award finalists but missed the big prize. This time, her entry was a success.
"When they announced the award, I was so excited I was literally breathless," she said. "We worked on this car for two-and-a-half years. I own a gold mine in Georgia, and I wanted the car to be really gold in color. I picked PPG paint because the builder said he likes to use it for the ease of mixing the colors to get what I want."
Gold Digger was built by Ted Thomas of T & T Customs, in Canton, Ga. Thomas and his crew selected Vibrance Collection coatings by PPG to give the car its glowing look, then applied their own twist to the Vibrance Collection yellow coatings and Crystal Pearl coatings to create the car's distinctly radiant gold luster.
"We've been using PPG products for almost 20 years," Thomas said. "I knew I could get the custom finish Tammy wanted with the Vibrance Collection. It's real user-friendly and gave us the rich color the car deserved."
In addition to its show-stopping exterior, Gold Digger's custom-built features include a fully independent suspension, rack-and-pinion steering, inboard disc brakes, brightwork and a digital dash.
Established in 1964, the Don Ridler Memorial Award was named after the man who turned the Detroit Autorama into the nation's premier custom car show. The award is regarded as the ultimate recognition of custom design excellence and is presented annually at the Detroit Autorama.
The Ridler Award involves a series of subcompetitions. Cars must debut at the Detroit Autorama and be selected to compete - this year 33 cars made the cut. From that field, eight cars are chosen as finalists - the "Great Eight" - and receive $1,000 each. The winning car is selected from the Great Eight. The owner receives a check for $10,000 along with a special embroidered jacket and the Ridler Award trophy itself, an honor regarded as the definitive custom car reward.