Even though Lehfeldt -and by extension his pal Bartoni, a prior owner, and a sheetmetal fabricator-left indelible marks on the truck, he said he didn't necessarily see the future in the truck, at least in his hands. "About that time I got into water skiing and I just thought, 'Well, I'm not going to finish this,'" he admits. "About that time I'd bought a '40 Ford sedan and I took the dropped axle out from under the '35 and put it under the '40. That's when I sold it to Gene Winfield-I can't remember exactly what I sold it for but it was something like $200 or $300."
"It was already partly done and I went ahead and finished it up," Gene comments. For the record, Gene is being modest-a trait he's pretty well known for.
Gene replaced the missing axle with one of the axles he dropped and filled during the period. Then came the first distinguishing feature Gene contributed: the side pipes. "I used that wrinkle pipe made by a company named Ever-Hot Products. You could buy them at places like Pep Boys-you could heat them and bend them easily."
For its first iteration, Gene sprayed the pickup a color listed in '60 show programs as Cinnamon Bronze. "I made that color using gold powder on an intermediate clear," he remembers. "I think I used a beige base-a flat-beige base with gold powder, and the clear on top of that. I did the dash in beige pearl. Then Tommy the Greek striped it-he striped the truck a little bit each time along the way."
When Gene debuted the car at the San Mateo Custom, Rod, and Sports Car show in January 1960, the truck wore a set of '49 Mercury wheels, their centers obscured by bullet-style caps. "There was a guy in a little shop just south of Modesto (who) had a metal-spinning lathe," Gene reveals. "I had him (Gene recalled his name being Lyle) spin lots and lots of stuff-I had him spin those wheel centers before Shannon made 'em ... you know, Shannon cones?" Other photos taken at that event also show stepped-profile spun-aluminum outer covers held on with bullets. "[Lyle] did those too," Gene notes. "The headlights, they're one-off too. I had those spun but the headlight rings are actually '58 Mercury. I used those rings on lots and lots of cars," he says, one of them being Rich Zocchi's creamsicle-colored '62 Pontiac Grand Prix.
He had the interior finished in a combination of gold and cream vinyl. "A friend of mine, Dave Rettig, was going to Tijuana to upholster his '33-maybe you remember his car?" (If you don't, we'll tell you: it was a Chrysler-wired Fordor recently made somewhat famous by an old photo of it taken in front of the famed Golden Bear in Huntington Beach with two kids perched upon surfboards strapped to the roof.)
"Anyway ..." Gene continues, "... he told me he was going so I did all the panels and gave him the seat for him to take. It was $150-complete interior and all I think I had to do was put in the headliner," he says, musing over the very idea of a show car-worthy interior costing only about a grand in today's money. Finally, a pair of stainless-faced plaques, cut to resemble silhouettes of a stylized car and attached to chromed stake pockets, proclaimed the truck property of Winfield's Custom Shop.
Typical for the times, the truck constantly evolved. Photos that appeared in the March '63 Custom Craft show that Gene swapped the Flathead for a 265 Chevy engine. Also notable in those photos are darker paint accents; reportedly to conceal damage resulting from showing the truck or possibly even swapping engines, Gene fogged the fender edges Candy Red-a trademark-blending spray style that he used liberally on Leroy Kremmerer's Jade Idol at the time.