By Mo Cranker on August 6, 2018.
A living legend in the automotive industry was in the Hat this weekend to attend a car show and give pointers to those looking for them.
Ninety-one-year-old Gene Winfield has been in the car industry in many capacities for his entire life, and continues to do body and cosmetic work on cars to this day.
“I got my first job at a shop when I was 17 or so and I’ve done this ever since,” he said. “All my life I’ve been creating and customizing hot rods, and there was a period of time in there when I was doing movie and television cars.
“In the 1960s when muscle cars came out, the car manufacturers were doing what we were doing as customizers, so we were forced to do different things like movie and T.V. work.”
Winfield customized vehicles for films and shows like Blade Runner, Robocop, Star Trek, Batman and Mission: Impossible. He says he is just doing what he loves.
“When I see a car I start customizing it in my head almost right away,” he said. “This is what I have done my whole life and it has been a great career for me.”
Winfield’s work inspired Windy’s Ice Cream Diner on Third Street, and Saturday saw roughly 100 cars line up around the diner for the Hat world to see.
“I still do a lot of work on cars but I really enjoy doing things like car shows as well,” said Winfield. “I’ll be around signing autographs, taking pictures and selling some merchandise.
“Anyone with questions is always welcomed to ask me, and I’ll also be doing some judging.”
Winfield says he has no plans to retire.
“I get asked all the time,” he joked. “The day I stop working on cars is the day they put me in the ground.
“This is what I love to do.”
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