Resurrecting Gene Winfield’s “Bronze Coated Beauty”

For years, it was nothing more than a beat-up old 1935 Ford pickup collecting dust in an Oregon barn.

From the looks of it, no one would have guessed that the old pickup that wound up in a field in Mist, Oregon, was once the original work truck of a hot rodding legend. Nor would anyone have guessed at that time that the truck would one day be restored to its original glory.

1935 Ford pickup Bronze Coated Beauty left side
The story of the truck begins in the late 1950s when legendary rod builder Gene Winfield and his friend Rick Lefelt built the truck and painted it its signature bronze color to be shown at a San Mateo, California, car show in January 1960 to help advertise Winfield’s custom shop. The truck was a hit, even landing an appearance in the October 1961 issue of Custom Rodder where it was called “The Bronze Coated Beauty.”

The truck was modified throughout the early 1960s by Winfield and was painted blue. In 1963, Winfield put the truck up for sale in the classified section of Hot Rod magazine, eventually working out a trade and selling it to an Oregon man who would go on to crash the vehicle and later sell it to Don Epling in 1965. After that, the truck essentially “disappeared” for the next 43 years, sitting in Epling’s barn. Winfield had no idea what had happened to his old shop truck.

1935 Ford pickup Bronze Coated Beauty rear left three quarter
The barn and truck survived two floods and, after the second flood in January 2008, Epling moved the truck to a field on his property so it could dry out.

David “Tex” Barnes spotted the truck in the summer of 2008 while he was driving by Epling’s property. Although he was only able to see the rear of the truck from the road, it made an impression on him. After reading an article in Rodder’s Journal about Winfield’s truck, he wondered if it might be the same truck he’d seen rusting in the field in Oregon.

1935 Ford pickup Bronze Coated Beauty front left
David and his brother, Dale, who works for Hatfield Restorations in Canton, Texas, went to see the truck and eventually decided they wanted to purchase it for Dale’s boss. The brothers, along with Gary Hatfield, owner of the shop, finally convinced Epling to sell it.

With the sale complete, the truck was trailered from Oregon to its new home in Texas.

Gene Winfield reunites with his former shop truck Bronze Coated Beauty in 2008
“On the way, we stopped at Gene Winfield’s shop in Mojave, California, so he could see his old truck after some 40 years,” said Hatfield.

“Gene had been looking for the truck for the past 18–20 years,” said Hatfield. “He’d heard of its general location and had traveled to Oregon twice to see if he could find it but each time he failed to locate it. He had a customer from Washington state that wanted to reproduce the truck and had even bought him a 1935 Ford pickup to use, just prior to us finding the real thing.”


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