Cushenbery Custom Shop
Cushenbery Custom Shop was a custom body shop in Wichita, Kansas owned and operated by Bill Cushenbery. Bill was 19 years old when he opened up his first body shop. 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 of the Cushenbery Custom Shop. After winning the "Tournament of Frame" contest at the 1963 Grand National Roadster Show with the Silhouette, Bob Larivee of Promotions, Inc. approached Bill to build him an equally radical car for the International Championship Auto Show series. That collaboration led to the Car Craft Dream Rod.
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.
After moving his shop to North Hollywood, Bill became a specialist restoring Mercedes-Benz 300-SL gullwing coupes. It all came about when one 300-SL owner noted the superb workmanship that marked every Cushenbery custom, and he decied to have Bill restore his gullwing back to mint condition. The job was a superb success, and the news about Bill's talent spread quickly among 300-SL enthusiasts. By the end of 1965, he had restored more then 7 gullwing Mercedeses.
Cars Restyled by Cushenbery Custom Shop
Bill Cushenbery's 1940 Ford - The El Matador
Bob Crespo's 1940 Ford Coupe - Les Po Po
Gene Boucher's 1956 Ford - The Marquis
Frank Gould's 1958 Chevrolet Impala - The Limelighter
Mari Ghiorzi's 1958 Chevrolet
Richard Zoochi's 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix
The Car Craft Dream Rod
The Silhouette II Space Coupe
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