Answer Man

Hot rod designer’s sons took detours

Boyd Coddington was all about cars.
Boyd Coddington was all about cars.

Q: About 10 years ago, I was following a prominent hot rod designer named Boyd Coddington, who, like most well-known people these days, had his own reality TV show for a few years. I know he died a few years ago, but I was wondering if his kids followed in his footsteps.

E.A., of Dupo

A: You know what they say: Like father, like son. Or, in this case, sons. But it’s not quite the heartwarming Hollywood ending you might want, so let’s open the hood and see what has happened to this once finely tuned family engine.

For lovers of eye-popping custom cars, Boyd Coddington was nothing short of a mechanical god for more than a quarter century. Born in Idaho in 1944, he devoured every auto magazine he could get his hands on as a youngster and was given his first car —a 1931 Chevy truck — when he was just 13. By the 1970s, he was earning a solid reputation as a hot rod designer even while spending part of his time as a machinist at Disneyland. Finally, in 1977, he opened Hot Rods by Boyd and soon began winning major awards for his work.

He was known for combining the classic old-school style with his own clean, elegant design to produce the “Boyd Look.” Among his most famous innovations were his custom alloy wheels, usually machined from a solid aluminum billet, which led to his founding of Boyd’s Wheels Inc. in 1988. A year later, he took a 1949 Cadillac owned by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and created what critics called “CadZZilla,” one of the greatest expressions of automotive customization.

Many young customizing wannabes flocked to his shop to learn, including Larry Erickson, who later became the chief designer of the Mustang and Thunderbird for Ford. Coddington’s cars won the Grand National Roadster Show’s “America’s Most Beautiful Roadster” award seven times and the Daimler-Chrisler Design Excellence award twice. Inducted into a half-dozen car-related halls of fame, Coddington spread his love on wheels to a national audience with the debut of “American Hot Rod” on the TLC network in 2004.

But he was hospitalized on New Year’s Eve, 2007. Despite initial hopes for a complete recovery, the 63-year-old diabetic died two months later of sepsis and kidney complications after surgery for a perforated colon.

At first, it appeared that his sons — Gregg, Chris and Boyd Jr. — were going to come together like the Three Musketeers to roll their fathers’ legacy on. Four months after his death, they announced a new company called Sons of Boyd LLC. The boys promised a website to honor their father ( along with a line of apparel and the continuing creation of new rods.

But in the years since, the three sons have gone their separate ways. If you search for now, you end up at Hot Rods by Boyd, which is owned by Chris, who continues to offer fancy wheels and other accessories based on both his dad’s and his own original designs. But the fine print at the bottom of the page makes clear that Hot Rods by Boyd LLC in Anaheim, Calif., “is wholly owned by Chris Coddington and has no affiliation with ... Boyd Coddington Jr.”

Meanwhile, Boyd Jr. heads the Boyd Coddington Companies in Kansas City, Mo., which, in turn, states he is not affiliated with Chris. Instead, at, he offers his own custom wheels, accessories and a line of car-care products, including waxes and detailers. Just last month, he staged his All Speed Expo and Custom Car Show at the KCI Expo Center.

And Gregg? He also still offers custom designs — but in an entirely different field. Once an overseer of the hot wheels that rolled out of Boyd Coddington Wheels and American Racing Vintage, Gregg has been the regional sales manager for To Die For Clothing in Orange County, Calif., since January 2008, according to his LinkedIn page.

Q: Why is the Catholic church removing votive candles from its parishes? It always gave me comfort to make a small offering and light a candle but now I can’t without going to the Shrine or maybe buying an electronic one. Are fire insurance rates ending this prayerful custom?

C.R., of Belleville

A: Although some early church leaders wanted to extinguish the practice, Monsignor John Myler assures me the local diocese has absolutely no plans to turn out these lights on most of its area parishioners.

“Here at the Cathedral (of St. Peter) there’s an entire room — an entire chapel —for votive candles,” he said. “Most parishes still have votive candles.”

Long before Jesus Christ called himself “the light of the world,” lamps and candles played an important role in every major religion. Even the Greeks and Romans burned sanctuary lamps before their temples, according to Dr. Kevin Johnson in his book “Why Do Catholics Do That?” When Christianity began to spread, some even questioned the need to continue such practices.

“They kindle lights as though to one in darkness,” Lactanius, the “Christian Cicero,” wrote of pagans in about 300. “Can he be thought sane who offers the light of lamps and candles to the Author and Giver of all light?”

But through the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, the practice has continued for reasons Myler clearly understands.

“The whole idea is that someone has a prayer intention, so they come in and light a candle,” he said. “The next person who comes in has their own intention, but they also see the candles burning that are the intentions of others, so the whole congregation — everybody who looks on those candles —knows each one represents a prayer and petition of an individual so that we can pray together for each individual’s need.”

Only in a handful of churches do fire codes prohibit traditional candles because of the architecture of the buildings, he said. One is St. Mary’s in Belleville, which is why it uses the electronic variety.

“But if the caller is from Belleville, there is certainly a place within 10 minutes of where she is where she can light a candle,” Myler said. “We are not only not going to remove them, but we encourage that devotion.”

Today’s trivia

Who inspired rocker Bob Seger to write “Her Strut” on his “Against the Wind” album?

Answer to Monday’s trivia: The award for most unusual place for a spider to spin a web undoubtedly would go the two arachnids who were shot into outer space aboard the Skylab 3 mission on July 28, 1973. A class of Massachusetts students proposed the idea to see if spiders could spin webs in space similar to those on Earth. After adapting to the condition, the spiders spun two webs whose strands, unlike Earth webs, varied in thickness. The webs also showed other differences in their patterns. The two spiders themselves later died in space, possibly because of dehydration.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer