Boyd will forever be remembered...
Boyd will forever be remembered for his style of dress, with the white baseball cap, the sunglasses, and the obligatory Hawaiian-print shirt.
If you think this editorial will tell you when Boyd Coddington lived and died, and what his famous cars or achievements were, you will be disappointed. That's information you can find anywhere at any time. I want to briefly tell you about my friend.
Boyd and I knew each other as far back as the mid-1960s when the two of us worked at the "Happiest Place on Earth," "The Mouse House," "The Magic Kingdom," or any one of the plethora of monikers Disneyland has been tagged with over the years. Most of the affectionate nicknames came from employees who took to personalizing their workplace, which, more often than not, served as a home away from home and a social gathering place, where friends knew your name (it was Cheers before Cheers); it was more than just a place to work-it was family.
Boyd and I both worked in maintenance; of course, his job was more glamorous (and paid better) than mine. He fixed and made things during the night shift; I followed the horses, but more on that story at a later time.
This photo of Boyd was taken...
This photo of Boyd was taken several years ago at the Builders' Pizza Party at the NSRA Street Rod Nationals in Louisville, KY. Boyd was never above having fun, even if it meant he would be the focal point.
I graduated from college and began working in my chosen career as a motorcycle journalist, which soon morphed into being an automotive journalist for the very magazine you are reading. It was because of STREET RODDER that Boyd and I were able to become good friends, and I would like to think close friends. From that point in the early 1970s until one day in late February of this year, he and I always either kidded each other or we would just sit and listen to one another. The times for the two of us, for the most part, were great, but there were hard times for both of us, as well. I was always impressed with Boyd's resiliency, his ability to survive a bad situation and move on.
Boyd was a master at generating publicity, since he knew it would be the "lifeblood" for his infant business. He knew when to call, what to say, and what not to say, to make you believe you had just discovered a great story that just had to be in print. I wasn't the only magazine type Boyd befriended, and all of us who called Boyd a friend truly had a friend-a rare commodity in today's world.
It wasn't long ago when Boyd would call and ask, "What, you mad at me?" and there would be silence as I stumbled, trying to think of what, if anything, Boyd or I had done to one another to create hard feelings. After breaking out in a sweat, Boyd would laugh and tell me, "I was just jerking your chain." Then, I would laugh and Boyd would say, "But, why the hell haven't you come over to the shop?" I would continue to be reeled in and ask, "Have you finished a new hot rod? Something interesting going on in the shop?" Boyd would always say, "Brian, you know what's going on, and you are always welcome-that's not why I called. We haven't been to breakfast or lunch in a long time; it's time for you to buy me a meal." And, I would gladly do so. There is a little diner around the corner from Boyd's shop where we would eat, and he ate many a meal there. Oftentimes, we would run into more of his friends, such as Jerry Kugel and his sons, Jeff and Joe, who ate there often since Boyd's and Kugel's shops are literally around the corner from each another.
The meals would always start with us talking about family and friends. Boyd never asked me to do anything I didn't think would make good editorial, only things he believed the readers of STREET RODDER would enjoy. While he knew "ink" was good for business, he, too, was sensitive enough to understand not everything he did was newsworthy.
I have many memories of Boyd, and, true, the vast majority of them revolve around cars, but my favorite time of all included Boyd and his wife, Jo. Boyd was invited to spend several days aboard the USS Nimitz (attack aircraft carrier, nuclear propulsion) as it left port in San Diego for a six-month deployment. How could I not accept Boyd's invitation to go along? Talk about being the third wheel, but, hey, it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience something very few outside the Navy ever will. The three of us were flown out to the carrier, where we made a carrier landing; and, yes, it is everything you have heard, seen, or read, and more. When the time came to leave, we were shot off the deck; and, yes, it, too, is everything you have heard, seen, or read, and more. Boyd and I always spoke about the time aboard the Nimitz, as it was one of those life experiences that becomes a memory neatly "pressed between the pages of your mind." We never forgot, nor would we want to, and it always brought a smile to our faces.
Forget what you have ever heard about Boyd. Forget what you think you knew, because if you don't think of Boyd as a friend, you didn't know the man. Our industry, our hobby, and I have lost someone special, and he will always be remembered as an original, someone of value.