‘Hot Rod’ star re­puted to be hot head

The Telegram (St. John's) - - HAULIN’ DRIVE -

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 hauler1234@ya­hoo.ca.

Haulin’ As­phalt Ken Sim­mons

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