‘Hot Rod’ star reputed to be hot head
Boyd Coddington. See, just the man’s name has fired a few synapses in the ol’ brain bucket; a touch of reverence for the custom cars he shepherded into existence, or a burst of fury at the memory of a man driven to perfection and who drove his staff to attain it for him.
If you believe the TV. Because, after the cars, the wheels and all that billet aluminum, that foolish show, “American Hot Rod,” will likely be Coddington’s most enduring legacy. ( He died in 2008.) I read recently of the show’s anniversary — it debuted April 23, 2004, and lasted five seasons.
It grew from the success of “American Chopper,” which debuted a year earlier. In the intervening years, countless build shows have come and gone — including a couple of the best, “ Dream Car Garage,” a staple for a few years on Speed up to 2008, and “ Stacey David’s Gearz,” which you can find out there every weekend.
Don’t mind the guilt these shows bring on, especially David’s, when he asks what are YOU workin’ on. Think of it as a little extra inspiration.
The build shows I can take. Some offer real-world info you can take to your own garage, if you’re lucky enough to own one.
Others allow you to dream the impossible dream — shiny tile floors, brightly lit work spaces, wrenches just as clean when you stop twisting them as they were when you started.
Coddington’s show was cut from the same sheet metal as its biking namesake, more interested in the bull than the build. There was anger and bluster, humiliation and hubris.
I can’t tell you if any of the cars built during the show’s run were any good, or even interesting. Their completion was always secondary to the soap of inter-garage relationships, and I could never withstand my revulsion to see the finished product.
I can tell you, thanks to Wikipedia (irrefutable, I say!) that more people left the shop over those five years than suffered the abuse for the full run:
Chad Geary was fired for insubordination, and his pal Al Simon walked out at the same time.
Bodyshop supervisor Charley Hutton (rings a bell, doesn’t it?) was given the flick for working for former Coddington employee Chip Foose.
He and bodyman Andrew Petterson ended up on Foose’s own crazy build show, “ Overhaulin’.” Same with Mike Curtis, a machine shop supervisor fired for designing motorcycle wheels for Foose. Chip, it seems, takes care of his friends, and Curtis found his way to the Foose production, too.
Others moved on to open their own shops, or take on new challenges. Friction with Coddington was always cited. Which, I think, is sad.
I didn’t really want to know that the guy who created CadZZilla, the outrageous ’ 57 Caddy designed and built for ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons, was a raging jerk. ( If he was. This is TV, after all.)
Whatever his real real personality, this is the image burned into our memories. I’d rather know him for the spectacular art he produced (OK, and spectacular business failings he suffered — the man didn’t even own his own name) than the petulance he portrayed for his weekly viewers.
So Ted Nugent is a raving rightwing wing-nut. Does that mean I can’t rock out to “ Free For All”? Hell no. Same goes here.
I’ll ignore the show, maybe even forget the man, and just revel in the beauty he created from rubber and steel.
Ken Simmons breathes exhaust and exhales clean, fresh air. Contact him at email@example.com.