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Written By: Gary Willoughby
Edited By: Richard Gunn

Steve Dane and I Visit Gene Winfield’s New Facility in Mojave

I met Stephen Dane at his home and after he packed some cameras we were on our way to the desert community of Mojave, which is north of Rosemont and the Edwards Air Force Base. The long drive was shortened by Stephen’s conversation of Blade Runner memories.

Upon our arrival Gene met us as we drove into his large parking lot. As always the perfect host, Gene would spend much more time with us than I have imagined, eventually giving us the Royal Tour.

Gene’s new facility, though located in the Mojave Desert, has acres of space and suits his needs perfectly, cars do not deteriorate in the desert. There are buildings sprinkled throughout the area, each building having a specific function. One building for fiberglass fabrication, one for fiberglass assembly and finishing, paint booths and the like. “Rod and Custom Construction”, is well thought out and after talking to Gene it is evident he has plans for more expansion.

During the tour, there were times I would forget to take photographs because everything was so interesting. As we continued, we reached a room where Gene was still putting the finishing touches on a reproduction dragster he had in the 50’s. Gene had a great fondness for this early dragster T so he decided to build a double. The T’s name was “The Thing”, he was able to build another from photographs and his memory.

Gene and Stephen reunion "The Thing" flat head Ford engine "The Thing" recreation The Original "The Thing" in the 50s
Gene and Stephen reunion. "The Thing"
flat head Ford engine.
"The Thing" recreation. The original "The Thing"
in the 50's.

Outside, as we were walking to the assembly and body shop area we passed a familiar looking custom car. Gene explained he was restoring the “Strip Star”, a car that appeared in the 80’s sci-fi film “Solar Crisis”. The show car was patiently waiting in the warm desert sun. Gene had originally built the car in the early 60’s, it was based on a 1946 Ford chassis with a 426 Ford engine and a hand formed all aluminum body. It was nearing completion with all body panels gleaming, a new 427 sitting in the engine bay.

The "Strip Star" Today The "Strip Star" Today The "Strip Star" in the 80s The "Strip Star" in the 80s
The "Strip Star" Today. The "Strip Star" in the 80's.

Everywhere I looked there was activity. Gene talked about the restorations he has done, and the 50 Merc’s that dotted the parking lot in different stages of finish. He now has full body molds to reproduce the early Merc’s completely in fiberglass.

50 Olds with famous Winfield fade paint job 1941 Ford with custom nose 1941 Ford with custom nose Gene and Stephen in Paint Booth
50 Olds with famous
Winfield fade paint job.
1941 Ford with custom nose. Soon to get ghost flames. Gene and Stephen in Paint Booth.

Stephen had brought much of his paperwork from the days of Blade Runner and the two sat in Gene’s living room sorting through the old 1980’s budgets, amused at the low costs of the vehicles they both made. They both realized from their conversations that they had both worked on the Solar Crisis.

50's Merc 50's Merc Early 50's Chevy Gene and Stephen
50's Merc all fiberglass body. Rear view of 50 Merc, to the
right side is the temporary
casting room with body molds.
Early 50's Chevy getting
extended rear fenders, new
grille and many other mods.
Gene and Stephen go over the
1980 Blade Runner vehicle

After a few hours of viewing the facilities we said our good-byes and thanked Gene for his hospitality. Stephen and I decided then that we hadn’t seen everything and we made tentative plans to return to Gene’s Rod and Custom Construction.

Gary Willoughby

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