ANGELES - Car-building legend Boyd Coddington, whose
testosterone-injected cable TV reality show "American Hot Rod"
introduced the nation to the West Coast hot rod guru, has died. He was
Coddington died at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in
suburban Whittier at 6:20 a.m. Wednesday. His La Habra office
spokeswoman Amanda Curry wouldn't disclose the cause of death.
who started building cars when he was 13 and once operated a gas
station in Utah, set a standard for his workmanship and creativity,
with his popular "Cadzilla" creation considered a design masterpiece.
The customized car based on a 1950s Cadillac was built for rocker Billy
Gibbons of ZZ Top.
"That was a groundbreaking car. Very cool,"
said Dick Messer, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum
in Los Angeles.
"This was your modern era George Barris," Messer
said. "He did things to hot rods and customs that weren't being done by
anyone else. But the main thing is he designed cars that were drivable."
was a machinist by trade, working at Disneyland during the day and
tinkering with cars in his home garage at night and on weekends. His
rolling creations captured the imagination of car-crazy Southern
Californians and soon he was building custom cars and making money.
Most often, he customized 1932 Ford "little deuce coupes."
was one of those things when a hobby turned into business," Messer
said, noting Coddington was also "one of the first guys to get into the
custom wheel business."
Wheels by Boyd were fetching $2,000 apiece, which was unheard of two decades ago.
also surrounded himself with talent. Alumni from his shop include Jesse
James and Chip Foose, who went on to open their own shops and star in
reality TV shows.
Coddington twice won the Daimler-Chrysler
Design Excellence Award and he was inducted into the Grand National
Roadster Show Hall of Fame, the National Rod & Custom Museum Hall
of Fame and the Route 66 Wall of Fame.
Always dressed in a
Hawaiian shirt, Coddington said he loved his "American Hot Rod"
Discovery Channel show, which featured ground-up construction of
$500,000 hot rods.
"The viewers are ... people who lived in the
1950s, 1960s and 1970s and loved these cars. Now, they have money,"
Coddington told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview.