Winfield's Custom Shop
Windy's Custom Shop
After returning from the Navy, Gene Winfield opened up his first custom shop in 1946. The shop was named "Windy's Custom Shop", and Gene opened it up in an old chicken house behind his mothers house at 1309 Figaro Avenue in Modesto, California. The "shop" was about 20 feet by 35 feet, and had a dirt floor. One of the first cars that Gene modified in the shop was his brother Frank Winfield's 1941 Plymouth. Gene chopped the top and windshield 3 inches, before he sent it to Hall Upholstery for a Carson style top. Working on his own and on his brothers car in the chicken coop, he started to get calls from friends wanting him to work on their cars. In the beginning Gene was just doing simple modifications such as lowering suspension and shaving emblems. As business were picking up Gene also started doing more work like changing grilles, modifying headlight and taillights, and eventually chopping tops. One of the first cars Gene did extensive custom body work on was Alvin Serpa's 1946 Ford Convertible.
As business were picking up, Gene added on to the shop and doubled its size. Not long after expanding the shop Gene had so much work to do, so he had to hire some employees. He added on to the chicken house again, and built his own spray booth with a drain and lights on the sides.
Winfield's Custom Shop
In late 1949, Gene closed his shop, and reported to the U.S Army. He was stationed at Fort Ord near Monterey, California, about two hours from Modesto. While on leave Gene would go to Modesto in order to work on and race his roadster. In late 1950, the army shipped Gene to Japan as a trained cook, but when he arrived, he was placed in charge of the battalion hobby shop instead. In Japan, Gene and three other GI's came together and rented a small shop in the city where they started building cars. After opening the shop, they hired a Japanese metal man. Not able to pronounce his name, the only called him "Hammer Happy". Hammer Happy earned $6 a day working for Gene and the other GI's. In the shop, they built 4 cars. The first was a little sports car with a Crosley engine. The second was a full-size sports car based on a 1939 Ford convertible with a loaded flathead and stepped frame, front and rear. The third car was a half-chopped and half-sectioned 1941 Ford coupe that they installed 1946 Ford] fenders on. Gene raced the 1941 Ford in the first stock car event ever held in Japan. The fourth car they built in Japan was a 1941 Ford convertible that they hand formed new front fenders, hood, and a grille for out of sheet metal. Working with the young Japanese craftsman, Gene learned how to do fine hammer-welding, sheet metal shaping and metal-finishing. In late 1951 Gene returned from Japan, and went back to work in the old chicken coop. Business was a little slow in the beginning, but eventually friends found out that Gene was back, and work started filling up.When Gene reopened his shop, he decided to change it's name from Windy's Custom Shop to Winfield's Custom Shop. Back in business Gene decided to focus on his business, and wasted no time getting back into racing.
New Shop at 451 Tully Road
In 1953 Gene got married, and he stopped racing. He started to advertise in newspapers and magazines, and he got so much business that he couldn't handle it in his little shop. He found out that in order to attract a lot of work, it would be smart to move his business in to a larger city. He looked at Sacramento, San Jose, and Fresno before he decided to settle for San Jose. He found a shop were he could afford the rent, he purchased a license from the city, and went to the fire marshal for an approval. When the fire marshal found out that Gene was going to do bodywork in the old wood-frame building, he refused to give Gene a permit. Discouraged Gene returned to Modesto where he bought an old radiator shop at 451 Tully Road. After 9 years in the chicken house, Gene moved his business in to town in 1955. 
In late 1957, a couple of years after Gene moved his shop to Tully Road, the city came along and took part of the front of Gene's property to widen the street and put in curbs and gutter. Gene had to donate 10 ft. of land off the front of his property. They had to cut off his building, and build a new facade on it. Gene took those money, added some of his own savings, and added on to the back of his shop where he made a nice showroom and a complete paint department in addition to a new nice front designed by Dennis Wilson. The paint department was closed off from the rest of the shop, and had enough room to work on three cars. One of the first cars to be restyled in the new and expanded shop was Dick Fletcher's 1949 Ford.
In 1985 Gene ran a company called Rod & Custom Construction in Canoga Park, California. The company was located at 7256 Eton Avenue, and they sold fiberglass 1942 and 1948 Ford custom coupes and convertible bodies. The bodies came with a chopped top, and all fenders and front and rear pans were molded to the body. Other modifications included inside door hinges, frenched headlights, rounded door and trunk corners, smooth firewalls and a custom dash. According to Kemp Gazette Vol. 2 No. 6, Gene was working on complete turn key fiberglass custom cars as well.
In 2011, Kings of Kustoms released a 90 minute long documentary on Gene Winfield. Kings of Kustoms - Gene Winfield was the first episode in a planned series of DVD's documenting the visionaries that created the uniquely art form of customizing. The first episode featured an in-depth look at the life, cars, and history of Gene Winfield. Through the documentary we get to know the real Gene Winfield as we follow him race through the El Mirage dry lake at 200 miles per hour, build hot rods, custom, show and movie cars, paint his signature fade paint jobs, charm girls and dream about his next creation. Click here to see the trailer.
Gene Winfield's Historic Mojave Shop Up for Sale
September 4, 2023, Gene announced on Instgagram that he had decided to part ways with his iconic Mojave shop. " I am leaving Mojave," he wrote, adding that he still would be doing his workshops and appearances. "So don’t worry about me I’m very excited for my next adventure. Look out, I’m just getting started!" The shop, located at 8201 Sierra Highway in Mojave, California, was listed for sale on Redfin. The property, spanning over 5 acres, was priced at $595,000. It features a vast workshop area with over 10 enclosed bays, office spaces, and a residential section. Click here to check out the listing ad.
When Gene announced the new venture on Instagram, he also told that there would be an auction where he would be selling a bunch of good stuff. "Nothing from my museum or my special tools will be available." The auction will be held October 7, 2023, during the 16th annual Winfield-Watson Gathering car show.
Cars Painted or Restyled By Winfield's Custom Shop
Don Tognotti's 1913 Ford Model T Roadster - "King T"
Gene Winfield's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Ray Andregg's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Paul Buckingham's 1927 Ford Model T Roadster
Peter Hischier's 1932 Ford Roadster
Dave Rettig's 1933 Ford
Gene Winfield's 1935 Ford Shop Truck
Bart Bartoni's 1936 Ford Phaeton
Joe Barnett's 1941 Ford Pickup
Frank Winfield's 1941 Plymouth
Wilfred Rusca's 1941 Willys Coupe
Alvin Serpa's 1946 Ford
Louie Stojanovich's 1947 Plymouth
Bart Bartoni's 1948 Ford Coupe
Benny Furtado's 1948 Ford
Qvintus Brusefält Ån's 1949 Chevrolet
Dick Mesa's 1949 Ford Convertible
Richard Fletcher's 1949 Ford
Frank Poli's 1950 Ford
LeRoy Gowart’s 1950 Ford
Chris Clark's 1950 Chevrolet
Jim Musick's 1950 Chevrolet Bel Air
Bill Wolfe’s 1950 Mercury
Larry Douglas' 1950 Mercury
Peter Hischier's 1950 Mercury
Garret Walther's 1950 Oldsmobile Fastback
Ray Goulart's 1950 Oldsmobile
LeRoy Goulart's 1951 Ford
Joan Vander Kamp's 1951 Ford
Bob Vincent's 1951 Mercury
Bill Wolfe’s 1951 Mercury
John Foxley's 1952 Chevrolet - The Jade Rival
Wheels Unlimited's 1952 Chevrolet - Desert Sunset
Nick Cozzitorto's 1952 Ford F-1 Pickup
Bruce Firpo's 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air
Jerry Soares' 1953 Oldsmobile 98
Bart Bartoni's 1954 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
Jesse James' 1954 Chevrolet 210 - The Old School Chevy
Richard Kinzey's 1954 Chevrolet
Richard Soderquist's 1954 Mercury
Dennis Reinero’s 1956 Oldsmobile
Lanny Ericson's 1956 Chevrolet
Tony Ferro's 1956 Chevrolet
Mike Sparrow's 1956 Chevrolet Corvette
Leroy Kemmerer's 1956 Mercury - The Jade Idol
Bart Bartoni's 1957 Ford
Bob Fryz' 1957 Ford - The Jade Idol II
Jack Smario's 1957 Ford
Mike Malfatano's 1957 Ford
Richard Zocchi's 1957 Oldsmobile
Cecil Lopez's 1958 Chevrolet Impala
Freddie Goodman's 1958 Chevrolet
Harry Craycroft's 1958 Chrysler
Richard Zocchi's 1958 Chrysler 300 - "Golden Sunrise"
Jerry Feldstein's 1958 Ford Truck
Winfield's Custom Shop's 1958 Oldsmobile
Mario Colalillo's 1959 Cadillac
Dave Wright's 1959 Chevrolet El Camino - The Golden Idol
Pete Kroeker's 1960 Chevrolet Impala
Richard Zocchi's 1962 Pontiac Grand Prix
Jim Noteboom's 1963 Buick Riviera
Richard Zocchi's 1963 Oldsmobile Starfire
Albert Seeno's 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix
Richard Zocchi's 1964 Buick Wildcat
Wheels Unlimited's 1965 Buick LeSabre
John D'Agostino's 1967 Lincoln Continental - Golden Sunset
The Solar Scene
Gene Winfield's Solar Scene II
The Rod & Custom Magazine’s Dream Truck
Roland Leong's Hawaiian
The Strip Star
The Comet Cyclone Sportster
Gene Winfield's Pacifica Recreation
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