Car-Building Legend Boyd Coddington Dies
Feb. 27, 2008
LOS ANGELES -- Car-building legend Boyd Coddington, whose testosterone-injected cable TV reality show "American Hot Rod" introduced the nation to the West Coast hot rod guru, has died. He was 63.
Coddington died at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in suburban Whittier at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, February 27th. His La Habra office spokeswoman Amanda Curry wouldn't disclose the cause of death.
Coddington, who started building cars when he was 13 and once operated a gas station in Utah, set a standard for his workmanship and creativity, with his popular "Cadzilla" creation considered a design masterpiece. The customized car based on a 1950s Cadillac was built for rocker Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top.
"That was a groundbreaking car. Very cool," said Dick Messer, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
"This was your modern era George Barris," Messer said. "He did things to hot rods and customs that weren't being done by anyone else. But the main thing is he designed cars that were drivable."
Coddington was a machinist by trade, working at Disneyland during the day and tinkering with cars in his home garage at night and on weekends. His rolling creations captured the imagination of car-crazy Southern Californians and soon he was building custom cars and making money.
Most often, he customized 1932 Ford "little deuce coupes."
"It was one of those things when a hobby turned into business," Messer said, noting Coddington was also "one of the first guys to get into the custom wheel business."
Wheels by Boyd were fetching $2,000 apiece, which was unheard of two decades ago.
Coddington also surrounded himself with talent. Alumni from his shop include Jesse James and Chip Foose, who went on to open their own shops and star in reality TV shows.
Coddington twice won the Daimler-Chrysler Design Excellence Award and he was inducted into the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame, the National Rod & Custom Museum Hall of Fame and the Route 66 Wall of Fame.
Always dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, Coddington said he loved his "American Hot Rod" Discovery Channel show, which featured ground-up construction of $500,000 hot rods.
"The viewers are ... people who lived in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and loved these cars. Now, they have money," Coddington told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press
Boyd Coddington, 63; custom car designer starred on 'American Hot Rod'
By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
February 29, 2008
Boyd Coddington, a renowned Southern California hot rod and custom car designer and builder who starred in the cable reality-TV series "American Hot Rod," has died. He was 63.
Coddington, a longtime diabetic, died Wednesday at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in Whittier of complications stemming from a recent surgery, said publicist Brad Fanshaw.
Once described by Hot Rod magazine senior editor Gray Baskerville as "the Stradivarius of car building," Coddington was a onetime maintenance repairman and machinist at Disneyland who customized cars and built hot rods at home in his off-hours before opening Hot Rods by Boyd in Stanton in 1978.
"His cars set the standards for custom automotive design because rather than just take a selection of parts from other vehicles, he would design and manufacture virtually every part for the cars that he built," said Fanshaw, former president of Hot Rods by Boyd and Boyds Wheels.
Coddington launched Boyds Wheels in 1988.
"He was the first person to utilize billet aluminum in the manufacture of automotive wheels," said Fanshaw. "Prior to that, all custom wheels were made in a cast manufacturing process where the aluminum is melted and poured into a mold. Boyd developed the use of solid aluminum and machining it and sculpting it for the final wheel.
"It gave you a much stronger wheel, a much more beautiful wheel, and you had much more design latitude when you did it that way."
Two cars built and designed by Coddington are in the permanent collection of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which had an exhibit of his cars in the mid-1990s.
"Boyd Coddington is one of those guys who'll go down in history as one of the great names in the customizing and hot rod world," said Dick Messer, the museum's executive director.
Because of Coddington's background as a machinist and his ability to make precision parts for his cars, Messer said, "his stuff was very finely put together. A lot of the stuff he did looked like jewelry rather than automotive parts."
Coddington, Messer added, "had a great design eye. And some of the big names in the automotive world today, particularly in customizing and design, worked for Boyd at one time or another," including celebrity designers Jesse James and Chip Foose.
Among the iconic cars to come out of the Boyd shop are CheZoom, which Fanshaw described as "an extreme reinterpretation" of the classic 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air; and the Aluma-Coupe, Boyd's reinterpretation of a 1933 Ford coupe that was hand-fabricated from aluminum.
Then there's the sleek CadZZilla, a radically re-powered and re-stylized 1948 Cadillac coupe designed by ZZ Top band member Billy Gibbons and automotive designer Larry Erickson.
"It was Boyd Coddington's masterful execution, along with his team members, that created perhaps one of the most memorable customized cars in recent history," Gibbons told The Times on Thursday.
Reflecting on Coddington's career, Gibbons said: "Boyd's contributions were on a par with George Barris and all the other American car customizers combined. He will be missed."
Coddington won the America's Most Beautiful Roadster Award seven times, including an unprecedented six times in a row. He also won the Slonaker Award, another prestigious automotive award in the hot rod industry.
Honored as Hot Rod magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1988, Coddington twice received the Daimler-Chrysler Design Excellence Award.
He also was inducted into the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame and the National Rod & Custom Museum Hall of Fame, among others.
His cars have been reproduced in Testors model car kits, made into a series of Mattel Hot Wheels toys and issued by the Franklin Mint as die-cast metal models. And one of the cars he designed and built -- a 1933 Ford coupe stylized with the trademark "Boyd Look" -- was featured on the cover of Smithsonian magazine, which profiled him in 1993.
In 1997, Ernst & Young named Coddington "Entrepreneur of the Year."
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Thread: Boyd Coddington....dead at 63
02-29-2008, 03:33 AM #1
Boyd Coddington....dead at 63
Last edited by AZFF25; 02-29-2008 at 03:49 AM.__________________
"Too many freaks and not enough circuses!"
02-29-2008, 08:21 AM #2
Another automotive icon is gone. Boyd also designed the 34 Ford coupe used in the ZZ Top videos, and also launched the careers of Chip Foose and Jesse James, both of whom worked for Hot Rods by Boyd."The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY
02-29-2008, 11:16 AM #3
03-02-2008, 10:21 AM #4
03-02-2008, 11:50 AM #5Coddington also surrounded himself with talent. Alumni from his shop include Jesse James and Chip Foose, who went on to open their own shops and star in reality TV shows
Mays launched Chip Foose. Boyd stole/recruited him away from Ford, then got ****ed off when Chip left after he was given no credit for any of his work.My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
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03-02-2008, 12:52 PM #6
There is no need to prove it, it was widely known and even seen on an episode of American Hot Rod.
Regardless of one's personal opinion of Mr Coddington, he was an excellent car builder in his day and his company still produced some very beautiful cars.
03-02-2008, 01:37 PM #7
Just a side question- Wasnt his shop located in Santa Ana, Orange County, CA?
I thought I saw that in his show.
03-02-2008, 05:57 PM #8
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The head machinist, I dont remember his name, but always went around with the heel skates, got fired by boyd when he was doing designs for chip foose while working for boyd..I remember that from one of the last episodes I watched...
03-02-2008, 07:32 PM #9
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