Custom Styling of the '60s: Gene Winfield’s 1935 Ford Truck
So far we have done a brief touch on custom cars from the 40s, early-50s, and late-50s - for our final installment we’ll look at a custom of the 1960s, when customizing had it’s heyday. Believe me, our month-long feature on customs is just the tip of the iceberg – there are books filled with information and websites dedicated to the education and preservation of these vehicles. People had a larger grasp on what worked and what didn’t in custom styling by this time. Some used that experience to go more extreme in their restyling, creating wild show cars, but others were still creating “tasteful” cars that you could mistake as being factory original if you didn’t know better. Paint had become a major player in customs by this era. Guys like Gene Winfield and the late, great Larry Watson were masters of their craft and pioneers of fades, flames, panel jobs, and scallops. It was also around this time that these paint and custom trends melded with a different form of car culture, the lowrider. While already a trend, lowriders picked up styles from the custom car world to become the flashy vehicles that we know them as today…but, that’s not what we’re here to talk about (in this article at least!) I’d mentioned a painter by the name of Gene Winfield. Anyone involved, even remotely, with classic cars should be familiar with this name. Metalworking and painting, two areas necessary for a proper custom, is what Gene has spent his life mastering. Still turning out cars today, I like to think of Gene as the hardest working man in the industry. This 1935 Ford Pickup was initially created by Gene Winfield as his “shop truck.” Operating a custom shop since 1946, a shop truck is the perfect type of advertising for a builder – it can haul things and do work but also garner attention at car shows and in magazines. Gene built this '35 Ford custom pickup in time to start the show circuit in 1960. It’s a prime example of 60s custom styling – not overdone but very obviously “custom.” Gene started with a 3 ½ chop, paired with a heavily louvered hood and custom nerf bumpers.
- Chop: Lowering the roof creating a more streamlined profile.
- Louvre: Vents created by pressing out metal, usually done in a row with louvres one after another.
- Nerf bar: Made from a single bent piece of tube, usually used as bumpers within the restyling movement.
The bed of the truck has been heavily modified with a custom tailgate and metal inserts on the bedsides. It’s a super nice touch you don’t see in today’s world – heck, even the sheet metal used can’t be found anymore! The nerf bar and grill styling was a huge part of the 60s style and a motif used time and time again, and even later adapted to some low-riders of the time. The side pipe exhaust coming from the full race Mercury flathead engine was a wild and stunning statement. Formed through the front fenders and running alongside the body line, it carries the theme started with the nerf bumpers on front and rear. To finish it all off, Gene sprayed it with over 20 coats of “Cinnamon Bronze” lacquer paint. Using coat upon coat of paint is what helps to give it that depth and true pop of color. This particular truck went through many changes through the years – as show circuits require a specific percent of the car to be changed in order to be able to enter it into the show again. Eventually the truck was sold and faded into history. Hatfield Restoration found the truck sitting somewhere during a cross-country road trip. Recognizing what it was, they nabbed it up and began the painstaking restoration process. The job couldn’t have gone to a better shop, except perhaps if Gene Winfield did the restoration himself! The Winfield Shop Pickup has been restored to its original custom iteration, Hatfield Restoration left no stone unturned in bringing it back to it’s original 60s glory! Something like this has got to be shared, and in fact this truck has been shown at car shows across the nation since its completion in 2010. This coming weekend, those in the SoCal area can see it for themselves, it’ll be heading across the auction block in Burbank with Auctions America. Custom cars, requiring tons of skill and design sense, are truly original works of art. There’s no shortcut around the hard work that must be done to alter body pieces. These are cars that you can’t just go out and buy parts for – they’ve got to be made from scratch. Hopefully after this month’s series on custom restyling you’ll understand a little better what makes these cars so special!