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Concept to Conception
A long time back in 1975 to 1976 a Cadillac Coupe de Ville was made into a custom body pickup. It was an upscale El Camino. The floor bed could carry flat plywood 4 x 8 sheets with the tail gate closed while the driver and the passenger ride in great comfort. A hidden storage area was at the end of the floor bed. It was used to store small articles of value out of view. The spare tire was also located there in the back. There was a metal cover that had a lock on it, just as a trunk would also have. Traditional Coach Works manufactured 204 Cadillac Mirage's. There were also several other companies that made pickup trucks from the front wheel drive El dorado and also from the standard Coupe de Ville. Traditional Coach Works built theirs to Cadillac standards and one could be ordered through a participating Cadillac dealer.
Traditional Coach Works Ltd. was located at 9344 N, Oso St, In Chatsworth CA. The actual production numbers seem to be a bit of a mystery. I’ve seen numbers 204,234,240 and 6. I’m not clear if these production numbers are across 1975-1976 or for each year. The first three numbers appear to have a dyslexic similarity. If you can answer this mystery, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their wagons were called the Mirage Sports Wagon and Castilian Fleetwood Estate Wagon. The Mirage was distinctive from any of the other Cadillac custom built pickups with its rear quarter windows and padded full top. The next runner up was called the Caribou built by “American Built Cars, Inc." of San Francisco. Although the Caribou was nice too, it just didn’t have the same appeal as the Mirage (Just my opinion). From the research I have done this week, I’ve discovered that the Cadillac Mirage is a piece of art created by the brilliant mind of Gene Winfield, that came to work with Traditional Coach Works from 1974-1977 which was directly inline with the production of the Mirage. Gene Winfield is the creator of just about any wild car ever seen on TV and in the movies and is still active today. Gene is the Car Craft Magazine builder of the year for 2008. Gene’s cars are all original, and all works of art. Owning a Gene Winfield original is much like owning a Picasso.
The Mirage seems to have originally evolved from the custom made flower cars used in funeral processions. The flower cars were designed as special occasion vehicles, as was the Hearse. The cool factor only naturally created the desire to convert the flower car into something less associated with death, and instead a sexy and seductive pickup truck targeted to the affluent. It appears as though that’s where Gene Winfield came in. Here’s a good article about the Hearse and flower cars and some interesting facts about how they were used.
It was recently brought to my attention from Michael Kribbs, Son of James Kribbs that Traditional Coach Works was born with and idea over a meal . Michael sent me this information.
My dad passed away
October 18, 2010 and I decided to search the Internet for the company
started named “Traditional Coachworks”.
Thank you Michael, and thank you James Kribbs for your contribution to this world. Legendary, no doubtJames was born on November 8, 1931 and passed away on Monday, October 18, 2010.
Traditional Coach Works
By Rob Einaudi
The good folks at Motorbooks have started sending us books to review. We just got their recent title The Legendary Custom Cars and Hot Rods of Gene Winfield, which is super cool (expect a full review later when I get my act together). But the pics of an old brochure for Traditional Couch Works in the introduction really caught my eye. I've seen a few of these Cadillac conversions over the years but didn't know the story behind them. Turns out that author David Grant first came to know the legendary Gene Winfield in the early 70s, and while he was in high school Winfield got him a job working with him at Traditional Coach Works in Chattsworth, California, where they did all sorts of wild conversions on Cadillac’s. Gene took the young David under his wing and taught him how to shave emblems, shape metal, hammer-weld and metal finish. Sounds like a pretty cool guy. I drove a '77 Coupe DeVille for most of my high school years, and love the idea of a Caddy "Sports Wagon" or "Estate Wagon." Apparently Evil Knievel purchased their first "Mirage" Sports Wagon, which can be seen in the movie Viva Knievel! One more pic of the brochure after the jump.
for the book
all the pioneering custom-car builders to come to prominence in the
1950s scene—Harry Westergard, George Barris, and Dean Jeffries, among
others—one of the most prolific was a young man from Modesto,
California, named Gene Winfield. Cutting his teeth in California’s
hopping postwar hot rod scene, Winfield eventually gravitated to the
media of custom cars, becoming one of its preeminent purveyors.