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Boyd Coddington
Boyd Coddington - 1944-2008
 
Associated Builders
Hot Rods by Boyd; Cypress & La Habra, California
     

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, died on February 28, 2008, at the age of 63.

Known for his trademark smooth, seamless lines and extreme attention to detail, he was born in Rupert, Idaho, in 1944. As a young farm boy, Coddington dreamed of creating his own custom cars and at the age of 13 traded a shotgun for his first truck, a 1931 Chevrolet pickup.

He attended Idaho State University's machinist trade school and after he completed his three year apprenticeship in 1966, moved to California and took a job as a machinist with the Walt Disney Co. He started building hotrods in his garage at night and on weekends and in 1977 opened up his first shop, Hot Rods by Boyd, in Cypress, California. 

Coddington rose to the forefront of the hot-rodding world when his streamlined makeover of a 1933 Coupe won the Al Slonaker Award at the 1981 Oakland Roadster Show, one of the most prestigious prizes in hot rodding. His most popular creations include his $400,000 Aluma-Coupe and Billy Gibbons' CadZZilla, both designed in partnership with GM designer Larry Erickson.

From his 50,000-square-foot La Habra, California facility he produced turn-key customized 1932 Fords and aftermarket custom wheels which are marketed as "Wheels by Boyd". The wheels are known to fetch upwards of $2,000 apiece and were his main source of income with an annual production of 100,000 pieces.

Boyds Wheels started doing business in 1987, closely followed by Boyd's Steering Wheels in 1991, and a line of performance clothing called Shop Rags in 1994.

Coddington perpetually surrounded himself with talent and famed designers Jesse James and Chip Foose both worked for Boyd before establishing their own shops and reality TV shows.

Coddington was honored as Hot Rod magazine's "Man of the Year" in 1988 and was inducted into the Specialty Equipment Market Association Hall of Fame in 1995. His vehicles have won the Grand National Roadster Show's "America's Most Beautiful Roadster" award seven times, and he has twice received the DaimlerChrysler Design Excellence Award. He was also 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.

In 2004 he starred in his own reality television show, "American Hot Rod", which aired on the Discovery Channel up until 2007. Perpetually dressed in his trademark Hawaiian shirt, the cantankerous Coddington claimed he loved his reality television show, which featured ground-up construction of bespoke $200,000 hot rods.

His extraordinary work ethic (he got up each day at 4:30 a.m.) made its way into his TV show which became popular for its high pressure deadlines and interpersonal dramas as well as its award-winning creations.

In 2004 Coddington told The Associated Press: "The viewers are ... people who lived in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and loved these cars. Now, they have money."

The New York Times has called Coddington "indisputably the best-known and arguably the most influential professional builder in the field."

Coddington is survived by his wife, Jo; three sons, Boyd Jr., Chris and Greg, and grandchildren.

2008 Mark Theobald - Coachbuilt.com

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