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The beloved hot rod designer worked for more than three years on the 1965 Chevrolet Impala on a 2008 Corvette frame for Don and Elma Voth. On Sunday, the car took the top award at Autorama. Lauren Abdel-Razzaq

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For the fourth time in the last 13 years, famed car designer Chip Foose took home the top prize at America's premier custom and hot rod car show.

The designer who gained a legion of fans through his Discovery Channel TV show "Overhaulin' " took home the Ridler award at the 63rd annual Maguiar's Detroit Autorama for his 1965 Chevrolet Impala built on a 2008 Corvette frame.

Dubbed "The Imposter" because of the mix, the car caught the eyes and the imagination of both attendees and judges.

Foose and his design team "don't just think outside the box," said David Gutierrez, who was showing a dragster with MGM Racing. "They are way out of the box."

"The Imposter," which was competing in the "radical hardtop" category during the three-day show at Cobo Center, is owned by Don and Elma Voth of Abbotsford, British Columbia. Foose and his team at Huntington Beach, California-based Foose Design took the '65 Impala and harvested parts from it to create a smaller and shorter version on a Corvette frame.

"We're not building our dream car, we're building Don and Elma's dream car," said Foose. "Our goal is to make every dream that they have come true. One of their dreams was to win the Ridler and we just did it."

It's unlike anything else out there, and that's exactly what Don Voth wanted.

"He got to know us, our interests," he said. "He insisted on having my wife included because he felt, for a good marriage, you both have to be involved."

The Voths have an emotional attachment to the model: It was the first car Don owned and the car he had when they first met.

"My father was very insistent that if I was going to have a car, I had to pay for it myself," he said.

Added his wife, "Don bought that car originally for $2,000 cash. We thought we were something because none of his other friends had cars."

He bought it when he was 17, he and Elma drove it on their honeymoon to Disneyland. They've been married for 46 years.

Seven years ago, when Don Voth wanted to get his wife a classic car as a present, he immediately settled on the '65 Impala.

It was originally meant to be an everyday driver for Elma, but now, she says, she probably won't be doing any driving in it.

"I was going to (use it to) get groceries in it," said Elma Voth. "When Chip showed this to me, I said, 'We're going to be on a very strict diet.'"

lrazzaq@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2127

@laurenarazzaq

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