Peter Hischier writes, “I first met Gene Winfield in 1950 when I joined the Modesto Century Toppers Hot Rod Club. I was 14 years old and Gene was about 23. We had the meetings in his old shop out behind his mother’s house in Modesto. In about 1952 I bought a ’50 Mercury Monterey, black and yellow, all leather, quite a rare car. At the time I was working for Gene on weekends in trade for custom work on my Merc. A year later I sold the car to Gene who then made it a full custom by chopping the top and adding ’51 Merc rear fenders. It was a super car. In 1958, he built my ’32 Ford roadster show car, which won many trophies.
“We have had a close friendship over the years and I have had the opportunity to see much of Gene’s work, and continue to marvel at his artistry and enthusiasm. I know Gene will go on doing what he loves to do until his last breath. What a wonderful, creative, and talented person he is. Those of us who know him well are very fortunate indeed.”
’32 Ford, ’40 Olds, ’47 Chevy
Donna Hilton wrote to us about her husband Jack’s lifelong obsession with cars, starting with his first in 1959, a ’47 Chevy convertible. He bought it from a junkyard, paid $90 for it, and was given $2 back for gas money. This was when gas was 29 cents a gallon! He has never lost the love for old cars. Since 1959 he has owned 65 cars, some were hot rods and some were muscle cars, and he has built three cars of his own. He traded a ’56 GMC for a ’32 Ford pickup basket case, building it from the ground up with a 454 big-block Chevy and Jag suspension.
Once he’d driven the truck to a few rod runs in the ’80s, he decided to build a car that was more comfortable. Purchasing a ’40 Olds from a car lot, he tore it apart, doing his own bodywork, widening the back fenders 3 inches and turning the bumper upside down. He did everything except the paint and upholstery on this car, and fitted another 454.
In 2002, Jack purchased the car he has always wanted: a ’41 Chevy convertible. Obviously a big-block fan, another 454 found a home here, with ’67 Corvette heads and Tri-power. This car is his daily driver when the weather allows it, though he still owns all three and he drives them all to shows. Now that he is retired, he has more time to build cars, the latest being a ’46 Plymouth convertible with a 392 Chrysler Hemi motor that he’s building for a friend. Why’s that Jack, saving all the 454s for yourself?
Peter Zillger writes, “This picture, by Bob Geroni, was taken behind the high school’s tech wing while classes for the underclassmen were still in session! Soon after, some of the teachers came out and told us that we were disturbing their classes and that we needed to leave the area. This we did in a cloud of smoke and a wheel-standing motorcycle!”
Shown from left to right are Jim McGrath (’57 Chevy V-8 convertible), Skip Mascola (’52 straight-six Chevy), Ron Maxwell (’32 Ford V-8 convertible), Jack Powell (’38 Ford V-8 coupe), Bob Geroni (’54 Ford V-8 coupe), Pete Zillger (’40 Ford coupe with 303 Olds V-8), John Palumbo (’61 Jeep), Wayne Edmunds (’60 MGA), and Bill Oakerson (’59 BSA).
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