By David Hakim
Auburn Hills, MI. – March 11, 2014
JF Launier and his highly customized 1964 Buick Riviera took home the coveted Ridler award presented by Chevrolet Performance during the 62nd annual 2014 Meguiar’s Detroit Autorama held March 7-9, 2014 in Cobo Center, right in the heart of the Motor City.
Aptly named “Rivision”, Launier’s creation is based on an original yet highly modified 1964 Buick Riviera. Launier took inspiration from the boat tail rear glass that was used on the 1971 Buick Riviera models and design cues from the 1963-1967 Corvette Stingray. Launier then combined these different elements, which included a low-slung profile and stance, front fender vents and tight proportions, and created a rolling masterpiece that is aggressive yet beautiful with exquisite attention to detail and functionality. “I knew I was not going to continue my career building 1950s cars. There’s not enough of a market and it’s for an older generation. I didn’t want to do the traditional 1969 Camaro or 1955-1957 Chevys. If I wanted to make a living for the next 20 years, I knew I’d have to build street machines. I wanted to do something different, and as the Buick came together during the build process, it sort of morphed into a two-seat sports car,” said JF Launier.
Many might think Launier’s 1964 Riviera styling is traditional custom, but at a closer glance, it’s light-years ahead of the old genre. It’s powered by a modern Chevrolet LS 6.2-Liter V8 engine that develops over 850 horsepower, thanks in part to twin turbo chargers. The heavily breathed-on engine is connected to a Tremec six-speed manual transmission that sends the power to Pirelli tires.
“I am so pleased to see a young car builder such as JF winning this year’s Ridler award.” said Pete Toundas, president and owner of Championship Auto Shows Inc. “This was one of the most radically modified cars among the Pirelli Great 8 and the extreme approach JF took in creating his Buick Riviera will inspire the next generation of custom car builders”.
This was not JF Launier’s first attempt to win the coveted Ridler award. His shop, JF Kustoms, located in Osoyoos, British Columbia, has previously come to Detroit and shown two fantastic Pirelli Great 8 contenders. Both times, this determined builder came away without hot rodding’s greatest honor.
“I competed for the Ridler many years ago but didn’t win. It didn’t discourage me from building another car. When it came time to build the Riviera, I knew in my head what I had to do better. I’ve been known for building really beautiful customs. I like to proportion cars differently than other builders,” said JF Launier.
They say the third time is a charm, and for JF Launier, that’s the case. The fact that the last Canadian who won the highly prized Ridler award was Mal Kieswetter with his ’32 Ford 3-Window Coupe “The Gambler” in 1988 makes it even sweeter for the British Columbia native.
“It took five years, 20,000 hours, blood, sweat, tears – lots of tears,” said JF Launier. “I don’t think I want to show it as much as I want to drive it and autocross it. It will be on next year’s Hot Rod Power Tour. I do have plans to participate in the Optima Street Car Challenge, and this will be the most abused Ridler car ever!”
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For the first time in a number of years, there will be an ISCA Grand Champion award recipient at the Finals in Baton Rouge, LA. The ISCA Grand Champion will be determined by the ISCA judging staff responsible for the Finals. After the judging staff selects each category award winner in Baton Rouge, LA and after further scrutinizing each category winner once more, the ISCA Grand Champion will be awarded to the "Best of the Best".
The Street Machine Comp category will again be one of the five judging categories for the 2014 ISCA Championship Finals. In the past, we have repositioned this category a couple of times, but felt because of the quality and quantity of Street Touring and Pro Touring entries to ISCA judged shows, we felt obligated to reinstate this category. Moving forward, if you have an entry that competes in any Street Machine, Pro Street, Street Touring, Pro Touring or Competition class, it will be competing in the Street Machine Comp category. If you have any questions concerning this change, please contact your regional representative listed in the ISCA rulebook, any ISCA Supervisor, or call Bob Millard at (586) 703-2381.
A Best Bike and Outstanding Bike award has not historically been presented at every ISCA judged show. For the 2014 season ALL ISCA shows will award and present a Best Bike and an Outstanding Bike award.
All ISCA shows will be presenting class awards as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, place winners.
In the past some shows have used this method and some have used the terms Best, Outstanding, and Place. Using the ladder has been very confusing for many participants because the Special Awards also are listed as Best and Outstanding. To ensure consistency and clarity among the entire roster, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place system will be used in the 2014 show season and beyond.
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John Mai from Houston has decided to let go of two past ISCA Champion vehicles and their displays. They are his 1941 Willys “Black Magic” and his 1933 Willys “Perseverance”. Check out the For Sale section under the news heading on our website for further information.