The legendary builder, designer and painter is scheduled to be present all three days of the upcoming Motorama Custom Car & Motorsports Expo Presented by Mothers. The show takes place March 11, 12 & 13 at The International Centre, across from Toronto’s Pearson Airport.
During the show, Winfield will participate in several capacities. In addition to hosting his own booth and selling collectibles, he’s also going to assist in the awards presentations and take part in the VIP Meet & Greet sessions that feature several other automotive and racing celebrities. Winfield will also be part of the hot rod discussion panel, which takes place Sunday on The Johnsonville Stage.
“This is my first trip to Motorama, so I might as well make it a busy one,” noted Winfield. “I’ve got a lot of 1950s memorabilia that I’ll be selling, along with tee-shirts and posters of some of our cars. What I’m really excited about is unveiling our new book to Canadian car fans. It features 500 pictures of the cars and things that we’ve created, many of them that have shown up in the movies and on television and in commercials. It’s a history of our business.”
Dating back to the 1960s, Winfield’s work has appeared in the following television shows: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, Batman, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. His big screen vehicle credits include: Blade Runner, The Last Starfighter and Robocop, among others.
A native of California, Winfield first joined the custom car fraternity following the Second World War, eventually opening the first Winfield’s Custom Shop in his mother’s refurbished chicken coop. Teaching himself to weld and paint, Winfield – who will soon celebrate his 89th birthday – ultimately made his mark on the custom car scene with his refinement of blended custom paint, a technique where colours are carefully faded together.
While he continued and expanded his car fabrication business – both in America and abroad – Winfield was selected by Aluminum Model Toys (AMT) to become a consultant style designer for their plastic model kits. Winfield’s imagination resulted in an impressive catalog of AMT ‘3 in 1’ model kits. And when the company expanded into the full-sized market, he followed along as a builder of promotional vehicles.
His influence was also felt in Detroit as Ford, and then Mercury, utilized Winfield’s design suggestions to add custom touches to their lineup of family cars.
Over the years, Winfield has nurtured many automotive and artistic connections, one of which will have a direct connection to the 2016 Motorama show.
Building upon a meeting with custom guitar builder Apostolis ‘Spanky’ of V8 Custom Guitars, Winfield agreed to a joint effort where the two would combine to craft and paint eight personally customized guitars for a select clientele. One of these unique pieces, number four of eight, will be presented to ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons, another celebrity guest at Motorama.
“Billy knows about this guitar; it’s been waiting for him for a while,” explained Winfield. “It was just a matter of coordinating a time when ‘Spanky’ (Apostolis), Billy and I could get together so we could give it to him. That’s going to happen on Saturday, March 12 at Motorama.”
At an age when most men are well past contemplating retirement, Winfield shows no sign of slowing down, putting in regular shifts at Winfield Rod & Custom and currently working on eight different projects. He still participates on the salt flats at El Mirage and Bonneville aboard a re-creation of his Ford Model T ‘The Thing,’ and is preparing to drop a new powerplant into his dirt Sprint car. Looking forward, Winfield is also putting in motion a new design; one that he hopes will earn him the coveted Ridler Award at next year’s Detroit Autorama show.
Speaking on behalf of Motorama, automotive coordinator Gary Challice said, “We are extremely honoured that Gene Winfield is going to be part of this year’s Motorama show. He is a legend in the industry and it’s an amazing opportunity for our showgoers to be able to spend so much time with him at Motorama.”