Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Farewell, Boyd Coddington

Hot rodding legend Boyd Coddington passed away today at the age of 63.


Love him or hate him, Boyd Coddington is easily one of the most
influential figures in the history of hot rods, and custom built cars.

From starting the billet revolution in his home machine shop in his
younger days, to spawning the hugely successful and innovative billet
wheel craze, to doing more than just stripping the paint off of a car
and changing small aspects like the grill or lights and calling it a "custom" built car, Boyd made a mark
on the entire concept of what it was to build a hot rod or custom car
whether it be from scratch or starting with an existing platform. His
philosophy of machining one-off parts for his cars while everyone else
was buying parts that were made in bulk is the essence of building a
custom ride.

For that reason, his cars have earned such accolades as the
prestigious Ridler Award, in addition to the “America’s Most Beautiful
Roadster” Award a record 7 times.

In my opinion, one of the major mistakes he made along the way was
allowing TLC cameras to roll in his shop for the
show “American Hot Rod.” Just like with their other series “American
Chopper”
in order to keep viewers watching, things become about
conflict, ridiculously tight deadlines, and problems abound which does
nothing but create a bad image of the way your shop is run and more
importantly the quality of your product. I have to believe that most
of the issues and lack of quality craftsmanship come from this
pressure. I can’t imagine someone with a resume like Boyd Coddington
got to where he is by being arrogant, totally lacking people skills,
unable to run an organized shop and not to mention having a “bull in a
china shop” mentality to building fine cars as portrayed on the show.

Many people will argue his impact on the industry based on the above
or because they’ve taken sides with former Coddington apprentice Chip
Foose – a rift that is well documented. A rivalry nothing short of
that of the Red Sox/Yankees and the uncompromising allegiance of its
followers, one thing can be said in either case – each designer/
builder has brought talent both innate and unique to an industry that
cannot survive without it and inspired thousands of designers,
builders, engineers (people like us) to continue that tradition.

For that, both men are deserving of great praise and deserve to be
remembered in a positive light at the time of their passing, no matter
which camp you belong to.

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