Winfield's Custom Shop

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Benny Furtado's 1948 Ford Convertible in front of the chicken house, Gene's first shop at 1309 Figaro Avenue. Benny bought the Ford brand new, off the showroom floor. In 1949 he brought it to Winfield for a top chop.
Gene Winfield's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster of Modesto, California. Gene was a member of the Modesto Century Toppers when he bought the car. After buying it, he rebuilt it using a Z-ed Model A frame. The build was completed in time for the 1950 National Roadster Show in Oakland, California.
Frank Winfield's 1941 Plymouth. Built in the early to mid-1950s, Gene restyled the car for his brother, who used it as his daily driver until he sold it off in 1956.
Alvin Serpa's 1946 Ford Convertible. This was the first car that Gene did extensive custom bodywork on. In 1953 the car won its class at the National Roadster Show.
Benny Furtado's 1948 Ford Convertible was restyled on and off in the late 1940s and the early 1950s.
Nick Cozzitorto's 1952 Ford F-100. The first iteration of Nick's truck was restyled sometime between 1952 and 1954.
Jim Musick's 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air of Modesto, California. Restyled by Gene, the build was completed in 1954.
After running the business from the old chicken house for nine years, Gene moved his shop to 451 Tully Road in Modesto in 1955. Spencer Murray took this photo in 1955 when he brought the Rod & Custom Magazine’s Dream Truck to Windy to have it reworked. Photo by Spencer Murray, provided by Kurt McCormick.
Gene getting ready to radius the front wheel openings on the Rod & Custom Magazine’s Dream Truck in 1955. Photo by Spencer Murray, provided by Kurt McCormick.
The dream truck as it appeared when it returned from Winfield’s Custom Shop. Gene radiused the front-wheel cutouts and sectioned the hood on the famous truck. Photo by Spencer Murray, provided by Kurt McCormick.
LeRoy Goulart's 1951 Ford of Stockton, California. Restyled by Gene Winfield, the first version of the car was completed circa 1957.
Photo courtesy of Gene Winfield.
The second iteration of Nick Cozzitorto's 1952 Ford Truck was restyled by Gene Winfield circa 1956-1957.
Joe Barnett's 1941 Ford Pickup of Modesto, California.Joe was a member of the Modesto Century Toppers. Circa 1957 Gene gave the car a custom-mixed candy bronze paint.
Bruce Firpo's 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air was restyled by Gene Winfield sometime prior to 1957.
Richard Soderquist's 1954 Mercury of Turlock, California. Richard's Mercury was one of the first cars Gene restyled after he expanded his shop on Tulley Road around 1957.
Dick Mesa's 1949 Ford Convertible of Stockton, California. Restyled by Gene Winfield, the build was completed circa 1957 - 1958.
Frank Poli's 1950 Ford Tudor. Restyled by Gene Winfield, the build was completed circa 1957 - 1958.
An ad for "Winfield's Custom Shop" at 451 Tully Road from the "Modesto Area Trade Directory 1958".
Bill Wolfe’s 1951 Mercury of Turlock, California. The first version of Bill's Mercury was completed in time for the 1958 National Roadster Show. By 1959 it had been dressed up with a scallop paint job.
Jerry Soares' 1953 Oldsmobile 98 of Tracy, California. Restyled by Gene, the build was completed sometime prior to 1959.
Jack Smario's 1957 Ford, of Pittsburg, California, was restyled by Gene Winfield sometime between 1957 and 1959.
Leroy Kemmerer's 1956 Mercury of Castro Valley, California. Leroy's Merc, also known as The Jade Idol, was restyled by Gene Winfield of Winfield's Custom Shop. The build was started in 1958, and completed in 1959. It became an instant hit at car shows all over the US, and it was the car that helped Gene gain national recognition as a custom car builder.
Mike Sparrow's 1956 Chevrolet Corvette of Castro Valley. Restyled by Gene Winfield, the build was completed sometime prior to 1961.
Mike Malfatano's 1957 Ford of Pittsburg, California. Mike's Ford was originally restyled by Gene Winfield at Winfield's Custom Shop for Jack Smario. Mike bought the car from Jack, and had Winfield redo it for him sometime between 1959 and 1962.
Richard Zocchi's 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix was restyled by Gene in 1962.
The Strip Star is a show and competition race car built by Gene Winfield for the Promotions Inc Show Car Division in 1963.
Don Tognotti's 1913 Ford Model T Roadster, "King T", of Sacramento, California. Restyled by Don and Gene Winfield of Winfield's Custom Shop, the build was started in 1962 and completed in 1964, winning the 1964 America's Most Beautiful Roadster award.
Lew Thompson's 1932 Ford Roadster of Modesto, California. Lew's roadster was originally hot rodded in the Los Angeles area in the 1940s. In 1948 Gene Winfield reworked the car at Winfield Custom Shop for current owner Joe Cardoza. Joe sold the car to Modesto Century Toppers member Lew Thompson. Circa 1960 Joe sold the roadster to fellow Modesto Century Toppers member Peter Hischier, who gave it a Candy Apple Red paint job. Circa 1963 Peter had Gene Winfield rework the car and give it a black paint job. This incarnation did also feature a fully chromed undercarriage.
Richard Zocchi's 1964 Buick Wildcat of Concord, California. Richard's Buick featured hydraulic lifts by Bill Hines and a fadeaway paint job by Gene Winfield of Winfield's Custom Shop. The car was restyled in 1964, when it was brand new.
The Reactor is an aluminum show-car built by Gene Winfield of Winfield's Custom Shop in 1965. Once completed, the car appeared in several television series. Gene bought the Reactor and restored it in time for the 50th Oakland Roadster Show in 1999.
Jim Noteboom's 1963 Buick Riviera was restyled by Gene sometime prior to 1968.
Richard Zocchi's 1958 Chrysler 300 was restyled by Gene Winfield. Named "Golden Sunrise," the build was complated in 1982.
Jesse James' 1954 Chevrolet 210. Known as "The Old School Chevy", the car The car was restyled in 2003 on the 15th episode of the second season of the Monster Garage TV-Show by a team of old kustomizing legends. The team included Bill Hines, Gene Winfield, Norm Grabowski, Dick Dean, Fat Jack, John Robinson Jr., Michael Hines, and Jesse James.
The news about Gene Winfield's fiberglass bodied 1942 and 1948 Fords made the cover of Kemp Gazette Vol. 2 No. 6 in 1985.
Larry Douglas' 1950 Mercury of Cordova, Tennessee. Restyled by Gene Winfield, the build was completed sometime between 1985 and 2006.
Bob Fryz' 1957 Ford was restyled by Gene Winfield between 1987 and 2008. The car is also known as The Jade Idol II.
John Foxley's 1952 Chevrolet of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. Named The Jade Rival, Gene gave the car one of his signature Candy Fadeaway Paint Jobs in September of 2009. The build was completed later on the same year.
Pete Kroeker's 1960 Chevrolet Impala. Gene gave the car one of his fadeaway paint jobs sometime prior to 2009.
Chris Clark's 1950 Chevrolet was painted by Gene Winfield sometime prior to 2010.
Bill Wolfe’s 1950 Mercury. In the 1950s Gene restyled a 1951 Mercury for Bill. This car was last seen in a wrecking yard, so when Bill wanted to bring his old car back to life he once again turned to Gene. Gene built a recreation of the old car using one of his fiberglass bodies. The major difference between the original Merc and the recreation is the chopped top. The build was completed sometime prior to 2010.
Mario Colalillo's 1959 Cadillac of Harrington Park, Australia. Gene gave the car one of his famous paint jobs in March of 2010.
A lineup of under progress Mercury customs displayed during the 2011 Gene Winfield and Larry Watson Custom Car and Hot Rod Gathering. Photo by Jerry Hatto.
The old chicken coop as it sat in January 2011. Click here for more photos of the old chicken coop.
In 2011 Kings of Kustoms released a 90 minute long documentary about Gene Winfield. Click here to see the trailer.
Gene Winfield's Pacifica Recreation is a recreation of the original Pacifica truck that Gene built for the Ford Custom Car Caravan in 1962. The recreation was completed in 2012.
Wheels Unlimited's 1952 Chevrolet of Japan was restyled by Gene Winfield at Winfield's Custom Shop. Named "Desert Sunset, the build was completed in 2015, and it made its debut at the 2015 SEMA Show.
Wheels Unlimited's 1965 Buick LeSabre of Japan. Restyled by Winfield's Custom Shop, the build was completed in 2017, featuring one of Gene Winfield's signature fadeaway paint jobs. The car made its debut at the 2017 Grand National Roadster Show.
May 25, 2018 the repainted version of the Jade Idol made its first public appearance at the 2018 Cruisin' Nationals in Santa Maria, California. In this photo the car is being loaded onto the trailer at Gene's shop. Photo courtesy of Wheels Unlimited.


Winfield's Custom Shop is a custom shop started and operated by legendary customizer and painter Gene Winfield of Modesto, California.


Windy's Custom Shop

After returning from the Navy, Gene Winfield opened up his first custom shop in 1946. The shop was named "Windy's Custom Shop", and Gene opened it up in an old chicken house behind his mothers house at 1309 Figaro Avenue in Modesto, California. The "shop" was about 20 feet by 35 feet, and had a dirt floor. One of the first cars that Gene modified in the shop was his brother Frank Winfield's 1941 Plymouth. Gene chopped the top and windshield 3 inches, before he sent it to Hall Upholstery for a Carson style top. Working on his own and on his brothers car in the chicken coop, he started to get calls from friends wanting him to work on their cars. In the beginning Gene was just doing simple modifications such as lowering suspension and shaving emblems. As business were picking up Gene also started doing more work like changing grilles, modifying headlight and taillights, and eventually chopping tops. One of the first cars Gene did extensive custom body work on was Alvin Serpa's 1946 Ford Convertible.[1]


As business were picking up, Gene added on to the shop and doubled its size. Not long after expanding the shop Gene had so much work to do, so he had to hire some employees. He added on to the chicken house again, and built his own spray booth with a drain and lights on the sides.[1]


Winfield's Custom Shop

In late 1949, Gene closed his shop, and reported to the U.S Army. He was stationed at Fort Ord near Monterey, California, about two hours from Modesto. While on leave Gene would go to Modesto in order to work on and race his roadster. In late 1950, the army shipped Gene to Japan as a trained cook, but when he arrived, he was placed in charge of the battalion hobby shop instead. In Japan, Gene and three other GI's came together and rented a small shop in the city where they started building cars. After opening the shop, they hired a Japanese metal man. Not able to pronounce his name, the only called him "Hammer Happy". Hammer Happy earned $6 a day working for Gene and the other GI's. In the shop, they built 4 cars. The first was a little sports car with a Crosley engine. The second was a full-size sports car based on a 1939 Ford convertible with a loaded flathead and stepped frame, front and rear. The third car was a half-chopped and half-sectioned 1941 Ford coupe that they installed 1946 Ford] fenders on. Gene raced the 1941 Ford in the first stock car event ever held in Japan. The fourth car they built in Japan was a 1941 Ford convertible that they hand formed new front fenders, hood, and a grille for out of sheet metal. Working with the young Japanese craftsman, Gene learned how to do fine hammer-welding, sheet metal shaping and metal-finishing. In late 1951 Gene returned from Japan, and went back to work in the old chicken coop. Business was a little slow in the beginning, but eventually friends found out that Gene was back, and work started filling up.When Gene reopened his shop, he decided to change it's name from Windy's Custom Shop to Winfield's Custom Shop. Back in business Gene decided to focus on his business, and wasted no time getting back into racing.[1]


New Shop at 451 Tully Road

In 1953 Gene got married, and he stopped racing. He started to advertise in newspapers and magazines, and he got so much business that he couldn't handle it in his little shop. He found out that in order to attract a lot of work, it would be smart to move his business in to a larger city. He looked at Sacramento, San Jose, and Fresno before he decided to settle for San Jose. He found a shop were he could afford the rent, he purchased a license from the city, and went to the fire marshal for an approval. When the fire marshal found out that Gene was going to do bodywork in the old wood-frame building, he refused to give Gene a permit. Discouraged Gene returned to Modesto where he bought an old radiator shop at 451 Tully Road. After 9 years in the chicken house, Gene moved his business in to town in 1955. [1]


In late 1957, a couple of years after Gene moved his shop to Tully Road, the city came along and took part of the front of Gene's property to widen the street and put in curbs and gutter. Gene had to donate 10 ft. of land off the front of his property. They had to cut off his building, and build a new facade on it. Gene took those money, added some of his own savings, and added on to the back of his shop where he made a nice showroom and a complete paint department in addition to a new nice front designed by Dennis Wilson.[2] The paint department was closed off from the rest of the shop, and had enough room to work on three cars. One of the first cars to be restyled in the new and expanded shop was Dick Fletcher's 1949 Ford.[1]


Rod & Custom Construction

In 1985 Gene ran a company called Rod & Custom Construction in Canoga Park, California. The company was located at 7256 Eton Avenue, and they sold fiberglass 1942 and 1948 Ford custom coupes and convertible bodies. The bodies came with a chopped top, and all fenders and front and rear pans were molded to the body. Other modifications included inside door hinges, frenched headlights, rounded door and trunk corners, smooth firewalls and a custom dash. According to Kemp Gazette Vol. 2 No. 6, Gene was working on complete turn key fiberglass custom cars as well.[3]


Kings of Kustoms

In 2011, Kings of Kustoms released a 90 minute long documentary on Gene Winfield. Kings of Kustoms - Gene Winfield was the first episode in a planned series of DVD's documenting the visionaries that created the uniquely art form of customizing. The first episode featured an in-depth look at the life, cars, and history of Gene Winfield. Through the documentary we get to know the real Gene Winfield as we follow him race through the El Mirage dry lake at 200 miles per hour, build hot rods, custom, show and movie cars, paint his signature fade paint jobs, charm girls and dream about his next creation. Click here to see the trailer.


Winfield's Custom Shop is still in operation, and is today located at 8201 Sierra Hwy in Mojave, California.


Employees

Bart Bartoni
Gene Winfield
Peter Hischier


Cars Painted or Restyled By Winfield's Custom Shop

Don Tognotti's 1913 Ford Model T Roadster - "King T"
Gene Winfield's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Ray Andregg's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Paul Buckingham's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Peter Hischier's 1932 Ford Roadster
Dave Rettig's 1933 Ford
Bart Bartoni's 1936 Ford Phaeton
Joe Barnett's 1941 Ford Pickup
Frank Winfield's 1941 Plymouth
Wilfred Rusca's 1941 Willys Coupe
Alvin Serpa's 1946 Ford
Louie Stojanovich's 1947 Plymouth
Bart Bartoni's 1948 Ford Coupe
Benny Furtado's 1948 Ford
Dick Mesa's 1949 Ford Convertible
Richard Fletcher's 1949 Ford
Frank Poli's 1950 Ford
LeRoy Gowart’s 1950 Ford
Chris Clark's 1950 Chevrolet
Jim Musick's 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air
Bill Wolfe’s 1950 Mercury
Larry Douglas' 1950 Mercury
Peter Hischier's 1950 Mercury
Ray Goulart's 1950 Oldsmobile
LeRoy Goulart's 1951 Ford
Joan Vander Kamp's 1951 Ford
Bob Vincent's 1951 Mercury
Bill Wolfe’s 1951 Mercury
John Foxley's 1952 Chevrolet - The Jade Rival
Wheels Unlimited's 1952 Chevrolet - Desert Sunset
Nick Cozzitorto's 1952 Ford F-100
Bruce Firpo's 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air
Jerry Soares' 1953 Oldsmobile 98
Bart Bartoni's 1954 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Jesse James' 1954 Chevrolet 210 - The Old School Chevy
Richard Kinzey's 1954 Chevrolet
Richard Soderquist's 1954 Mercury
Dennis Reinero’s 1956 Oldsmobile
Lanny Ericson's 1956 Chevrolet
Tony Ferro's 1956 Chevrolet
Mike Sparrow's 1956 Chevrolet Corvette
Leroy Kemmerer's 1956 Mercury - The Jade Idol
Bart Bartoni's 1957 Ford
Bob Fryz' 1957 Ford - The Jade Idol II
Jack Smario's 1957 Ford
Mike Malfatano's 1957 Ford
Richard Zocchi's 1957 Oldsmobile
Freddie Goodman's 1958 Chevrolet
Harry Craycroft's 1958 Chrysler
Richard Zocchi's 1958 Chrysler 300 - "Golden Sunrise"
Jerry Feldstein's 1958 Ford Truck
Winfield's Custom Shop's 1958 Oldsmobile
Mario Colalillo's 1959 Cadillac
Pete Kroeker's 1960 Chevrolet Impala
Richard Zocchi's 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix
Jim Noteboom's 1963 Buick Riviera
Richard Zocchi's 1963 Oldsmobile Starfire
Albert Seeno's 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix
Richard Zocchi's 1964 Buick Wildcat
Wheels Unlimited's 1965 Buick LeSabre
John D'Agostino's 1967 Lincoln Continental - Golden Sunset
The Solar Scene
The Piranha
The Rod & Custom Magazine’s Dream Truck
Roland Leong's Hawaiian
The Strip Star
The Reactor
The Constellation
The Comet Cyclone Sportster
The Pacifica
The Fransiscan
Gene Winfield's Pacifica Recreation


References



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