As most of you know by now Boyd Coddington passed away a few weeks ago. For many people this won't have much of an effect on their lives except give them something to talk about at the local cruise or around the water cooler. Now that a few weeks have passed the topic of conversation has probably moved onto something else like the nearly $4.00 a gallon prices at the pump, but I want to add my two cents about Boyd if I may.
Back in the late 1970s Boyd breathed life back into hot rods which were all but dead at the time and revolutionized the industry which has given countless people an opportunity to make a living to this day, not necessarily working for him, but just think of all the billet spin-off companies...
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if he was as big of a jerk in real like as he was on his TV show, American Hot Rod and my answer ever time was "no". I knew Boyd for the better part of 8 years. He gave me a job at his hot rod shop back in 2000 when it was in Anaheim where Robbie Gordon's off-road shop is, back before the TV show, back around the time of the Lead Zypher and the Aluma Truck. I was 20 years old and had sort of been laid off at another hot rod shop that a friend of mine owned due to business slowing down and this is when I got the opportunity to go work for Boyd. Being heavy into traditional hot rods I didn't have much interest in the "Boyd-style", but I was/am always willing to learn to do things better to further my skills regardless of the subject matter and going from working in small shops to standing on a white floor working on $200K plus cars was quite the eye opener! I felt like I was the dirtiest thing in there.
Being in this kind of environment and working on these types of vehicles really did help me to see a whole 'nuther side to building cars/trucks/hot rods/etc and I would do my best to retain everything I learned and really felt like I was soon raising the bar for myself as a fabricator much higher than I had ever imagined and would go back to my shop after work and try and use all this new knowledge on the traditional '29 Model A sedan I was building. Boyd was the one that made me learn to TIG weld. He demanded that I sit down for the first hour of every day and practice, something I'm very grateful for to this day. While I still remain stubborn in my automotive tastes I found out that there is a lot to learn from these high dollar shops and what they build and why (maybe I'll save the intricacies of this for another blog...).
After a year or so at Boyd's my life took me out of state and wound up having to quit, but Boyd personally thanked me for the job I did and said it was open to me should I ever move back which I wound up taking him up on about a year and a half later. I was married (now divorced) at this time and was happy to have the job back, but my then wife and I were having a hard time finding a place to rent (this was at the height of the California real estate boom) and Boyd told us to meet him at the new shop in La Habra, on a Saturday none the less, and he wound up personally driving us around to look for a place for several hours and took us out to lunch. One on one boyd was always a very cool guy, he always asked how things were going and usually had some sort of joke/story for you. So, that afternoon always sticks in my mind when someone asks me about him being a certain way on the TV show, guess it wouldn't have been good for ratings to portray him as he really was, which is too bad because many people to this day have the wrong impression of a Legend in our time whether you are into the cars he built or not.