Bill Cushenbery

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Bill Cushenbery of Wichita, Kansas began to learn the art of bodywork when he was a young boy. Bill's father, and several of his uncles, were in the body repair business and exposed Bill to the techniques they used. Bill wasn't interested in repair work, instead he wanted to create something new and fresh in order to express his imagination in sheet metal. 19 years old, Bill opened up his first body shop in his hometown Wichita. He had to quit school in order to do that, a decision he later regret upon as he felt he could have done better business-wise if he had fulfilled his education. The custom car market in the Wichita area was already dominated by Darryl Starbird and his Star Kustom Shop, so after 5 years, Bill decided to leave Wichita, and move his business to California. He settled down in the Monterey area, and it was at this hop that he built his 1940 Ford, the El Matador. The car was good promotion for his business, and after completing the El Matador, he began attracting a clientele seriously interested in show cars. Bill built many well recognized custom cars during the 1960s, but is best known for his completely original builds such as the Silhouette. The Silhouette was the firs scratch built custom to roll out from Cushenbery Custom Shop. [1]

One of Bill Cushenbery's biggest breaks came when he was one of the first customizers invited to take part in the Ford Custom Caravan. Bill and George Barris, in fact, formed the nucleus of the original Caravan team. After the project got rolling, Gene Winfield, the Alexander Brothers and others began to take part. Bill created the Astro for the Caravan, a stunning variation of the 1963 Ford Galaxie Convertible. Bill's participation in the Ford Custom Caravan led to another important development in his career as Ford officials and even some of his fellow customizers urged him to transfer his business from Monterey to a more populous area. In late 1964, he moved his business to North Hollywood, literally around the corner from Barris Kustoms.[1]

Bill Cushenbery's Cars

Bill Cushenbery's 1940 Ford - The El Matador
The Silhouette
The Silhouette II Space Coupe

Cars restyled by Bill Cushenbery

Click here to see cars restyled by Cushenbery Custom Shop


  1. 1.0 1.1 Popular Customs January 1966

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