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Gene Winfield (born June 16, 1927) is an American automotive customizer. In the mid-1960s, his designs caught the attention of the film community, resulting in a large body of his work being seen on screen, including in the iconic 1982 film Blade Runner.
Winfield (right) pictured with a fan
Robert Eugene Winfield
June 16, 1927
Early life and careerEdit
Winfield was born in Springfield, Missouri in 1927. His family moved to Modesto, California, in 1929, and he grew up there. He was first exposed to cars when his older brother, Glenn, opened a wrecking yard. He bought his first car in 1942, paying $75 for the 1928 Ford coupé, and promptly added a radio antenna with foxtail (despite having no radio in the car). Later that year, the brothers opened Winfield Used Cars in Modesto.
Winfield became interested in auto racing, including driving 135 mph in a Ford Model T ("The Thing") at Bonneville Speedway in 1951. He soon opened a business in Modesto, Winfield's Custom Shop. An early innovation was in custom painting, where the two colors are carefully faded together
Winfield also worked with Detroit automakers who turned to craftsmen to add their custom touches to factory cars. As part of the "Ford Custom Car Caravan", Winfield developed the Pacifica Ford Econoline van, the Mercury Comet Cyclone Sportster, and the Strip Star, an aluminum bodied sports car with a powerful 427 V8 engine.
Winfield's next aluminum-bodied project was even more ambitious. Joe Kizis, a Connecticut show promoter, held an annual Autorama (an indoor rod and custom car show) in Hartford, Connecticut. Kizis gave Winfield a $20,000 commission to build a show car, the Autorama Special. Designed by Ben Delphia, this vehicle later became known as The Reactor, a mid-engined front wheel drive two seater, with a very low profile due to the Corvair flat six. It showcased a light aluminum body, like the "Strip Star", but the technology went far beyond novel bodywork. Winfield took the 180 hp (130 kW) turbocharged engine from a Corvair Corsa and mated it to the drivetrain from a Citroën DS, and retains the wide front and narrow rear track of the DS.[unreliable source?]
Winfield also used the Corvair engine in a more conventional Rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, for The Piranha, a car meant to show the usability of ABS plastic in automotive materials. Winfield made this car a television star as well, on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 
AMT hired him in 1966 to manage the new Phoenix, Arizona based Speed and Custom Division Shop, which built full scale cars as promotional vehicles. After AMT closed this division in 1971, Winfield continued work in the custom auto body field in Southern California and appears as honored guest at auto related events in the US.
Winfeld was honored as the Detroit Autorama "Builder of the Year" in 2008, and since 2013, has been on the International Show Car Series (ISCA) circuit, chopping tops and shaping sheet metal for the crowds in a special section of each show called "The Summit Racing Equipment Chop Shop".
Revered as "The King Of Kustoms", Winfield was featured in the 1st DVD in a series called The Kings Of Kustoms. The series is a documentary and will highlight various car customizers, such as VooDoo Larry from Chicago, Illinois, or Alex Gambino of San Jose, California.
|1982||Blade Runner||25 vehicles||worked with Syd Mead on flying car concept|
|1984||The Last Starfighter||Starcar||Exists both as physical car and CG car|
|1964||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Piranha||Chevrolet Turbo-Air 6 engine, plastic body|
|1965||Get Smart||Sunbeam Tiger|
|1967||Batman||Reactor||Catmobile (episode 110 and 111)|
|1967||Star Trek||Shuttlecraft Galileo|
|1967||Star Trek||Reactor||"Jupiter 8" car from "Bread and Circuses"|
|1967||Bewitched||Reactor||"Super Car": Turbocharged Chevrolet Turbo-Air 6 engine, front wheel drive, Citroën DS chassis, aluminium body. episode 3.19|
|1968||Mission: Impossible||Reactor||Episode "The Freeze": used in a ploy to make a bank robber believe he's been in suspended animation for 14 years.|
- Geisert, Eric (July 2003). "Profile: Gene Winfield". Street Rodder. p. 230.
- "Custom Car Builder Gene Winfield - Model T Coupe - Automobile Magazine". Automobile. 29 April 2011.
- "Gene Winfield - Legendary Custom Car Builder". c-we.com.
- "Gene Winfield - Kustomrama". kustomrama.com.
- Jurnecka, Rory (28 Jun 2017). "These Two One-Off SoCal Customs Are Set to Invade Pebble Beach". www.automobilemag.com.
- "The Super Car - Bewitched". harpiesbizarre.com.
- "The Reactor - Gene Winfield". Fotki - www.fotki.com.
- "Piranha & Man from U.N.C.L.E. Car - Piranha "Roots"". c-we.com.
- "Piranha & Man from U.N.C.L.E. Car - Piranha "Spy Car"". c-we.com.
- Larivee, Bob (2015). Hot Rod Detroit. Oxford, Michigan: GP Publishing. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-692-30899-8.
- "Attend Show-Boston World of Wheels-Autorama.com". Autorama.com. Championship Auto Shows (CASI). 2016-03-27. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
- Grant, David (2008). The Legendary Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield. Motorbooks. ISBN 978-0-7603-2778-4.
- The Last Starfighter
- "Piranha & Man from U.N.C.L.E. Car Homepage". c-we.com.
- "10 TV Cars You Wish You Owned". wyotech.edu.
- "Eartha Kitt discusses driving the 'Catmobile'". Archive of American Television.
- "Star Trek Prop, Costume & Auction Authority: The Galileo Shuttlecraft". startrekpropauthority.com.
- Jonnie King's Hall Of Fame Legends Series: www.legends.thewwbc.net