Car customizer still finds job anything but a drag
By Candy Williams
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
As long as he still has projects on his to-do list, Southern California car customizer Gene Winfield has no plans to put the brakes on his career.
Although, at age 84, he says a cardiac condition is forcing him to cut back on his work schedule — from 16 to 18 hours daily “to only 10 to 12.”
Winfield, has created many notable custom vehicles for television and movies. His TV projects includes the “Piranha Dragster” he built from a Chevy Corvair engine and plastic body for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” (1964) and the Galileo shuttlecraft featured in the original “Star Trek” series (1967), which he says recently sold at auction for $64,000.
His custom creations have been featured in more than 20 Hollywood films, including “Blade Runner” (1982), for which he built 25 vehicles in less than six months, “The Last Starfighter” (1984) and “Robocop” (1987). He also made a Fiberglas flying version of the time-traveling DeLorean for “Back to the Future Part II” (1989).
A self-taught welder and painter, he started doing custom bodywork for friends and customers in the late 1940s and still has a custom shop in Mohave, Calif. He says he has several “dream projects” in various stages of completion and doesn't have spare time for hobbies or other interests.
“I don't do anything for enjoyment. I'm too busy,” he says, adding, “Once in a while, I go dancing.”
Winfield will meet with fans and demonstrate his customizing techniques at a “Winfield's All-American Chop Shop” display at the 52nd annual Baierl Subaru World of Wheels Custom Car and Hot Rod Show presented by Millerstown Pic-A-Part this weekend at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The event will feature 300 local and national custom cars, classics, hot rods, trucks, motorcycles and race cars, in addition to exhibits and other celebrity guests.
Show features include a tribute to Batman with three generations of Batmobiles, a “Munsters” display with “Dragula” and Butch Patrick, the actor who portrayed Eddie in the television comedy series; and ZZ Top's Eliminator Coupe, on loan from Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.
Also featured will be a Steel City Award of Excellence competition, Drag City USA presented by Pittsburgh Raceway Park, a 2013 Builder of the Year Exhibit and Pittsburgh High Scrollers Pinstripe Charity Auction to benefit the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.
There will be workshops and activities for all ages, including a pinstriping seminars for kids with the High Scrollers, Pedal Car Challenge, live music, Artist's Alley with handmade automotive art, a pinball tournament, Meguiar's Car Care Tips and more.
Celebrities scheduled to make appearances include Danielle Colby-Cushman from TV's “American Pickers” and Stefanie Scott, “Lexi” from Disney's “A.N.T. Farm” from 1 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday; and wrestling star Shawn Michaels from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
“There's something for everybody. It's not just a car show,” says Michael Tarquinio of Robinson, whose “Second Wind” 1932 Ford will be making its final appearance at World of Wheels as last year's Goodguys Hot Rod of the Year. The Lincoln Zephyr-inspired roadster has a 1957 Oldsmobile motor with six chrome carburetors and rare aluminum heads topped with hard-formed Lincoln valve covers. The retro interior is oxblood leather with German square-weave carpet and many custom features.
Tarquinio was invited to display the car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August in Monterey, Calif. It also was displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
Candy Williams is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Keisel might be at end of Steelers career
- Judge won’t let man suing police introduce previous complaints against officers
- Mt. Pleasant’s St. Pius X serves up Lenten meals
- Southmoreland seniors to don caps and gowns June 4
- Prom dress consignment sale a hit with Norwin High School students
- Bullskin, Connellsville youngsters ‘paying it forward’
- Connellsville rec board making plans for summer
- Man to face DUI-homicide trial for Route 28 wreck
- Turnpike’s chief compliance officer resigns, cites family matters
- Randy Moss’ daughter proving to be a catch, too
- Penguins’ leads evaporate in loss to Sharks