|Bill Cushenbery - Seaside, California 1950s-1990s
The middle pictures were shot in front of Bill Cushenbery's Custom Shop in Seaside, California in 1961. We were all getting ready to leave the little four bay shop and caravan our custom cars to the Sacramento Autorama. I had recently won the "Class Award" at the '61 Oakland Roadster Show the week before. Five customs built by Bill Cushenbery, including my "Candy Apple Burgundy" Ford, made the trip that day.
Inside the doors of his little shop the day these photos were taken was a custom under construction that were soon to shock and amaze the custom car world -- The full custom '56 Ford "The Marquis." An exact replica of "The Marquis" was shown at the 2001 Roadster Show (see the Hot Rods, Wild Paint pages on this site). The radical 40 Ford in the top picture is Cushenbery's "El Matador" One of the guys in the photo is Tony Cardoza who owned the radical 59 Chevy in the bottom picture. My Ford is third from the left in the middle shot. This was the first year for Cushenbery to show his work and it was a great success for him. The next year he won "Builder of the Year" at the Oakland Roadster Show and won a trip to Paris.
Bill Cushenbery died a couple of years ago. His early passing leaving a major and unfillable void in the list of "world class" creative car builders of that era... Cushenbery's fame glowed on the same exalted level as Gene Winfield, George Barris, Bill Hines, Joe Wilhelm (who has also passed), the Alexander Brothers, Darrell Starbird and Joe Bailon. His rare talent and creativity will be missed - but I believe he is now, very likely, the chief coach builder for God.
Silouhette - Bill Cushenbery's needle-nosed, bubble-topped masterpiece in metal began as a '56 Buick chassis, shortened to a 98-inch wheelbase, with 28 inches cut from the tread. Then came the radical body, with its sculptured lines, wheel cut-outs, and end curvatures--all completely hand-formed by Cushenbery from 20 gauge metal. Inside the nearly all-electronic cockpit, champagne, pearl and black naugahyde upholstery give the same futuristic look to the interior, with its homemade instrument panel and remote-control steering column. Winner of the 1963 Oakland Roadster Show Tournament of Fame.
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