In the hot rod world, the name Coddington speaks for itself. After all, it belongs to one of the industry’s late shining stars still known today for his amazing car projects and unique wheel designs. But Boyd Coddington isn’t the only one who’s namesake should bring images of success, confidence, and grace to mind. Exuding all of those things and more is Boyd’s wife and this month’s leading lady–the one and only Jo Coddington.
Born to be a Hot Rodder
While Jo Coddington’s name remains tied to the Coddington brand, she started out just as much of a car nut as any successful person in the industry right from birth. Born into a race family, Coddington dove right into the car scene, experiencing some of the great perks of a race-friendly upbringing from a young age.
“At age six, I was driving a go-kart with a Tecumseh engine in the Safeway Grocery Store parking lot, wheeling through the cones,” Coddington told us. “Having the name Jo helped me play with the boys!”
From go-karts, Coddington branched into the off-road world, racing at tracks throughout her adolescence, eventually graduating to a full-out race organization with her father and two family friends, who all raced sand rails under the Arizona Racing Inc. name.
Off the track, Coddington also gained automotive experience through her family’s gas station and through wrenching at the family’s subsequent mechanical shops. After she got her driver’s license, Coddington progressed to the official parts runner for the family business.
As an adult, Coddington continued on with her automotive passion, spending much of her free time racing off-road.
Hot rods were also a major part of Coddington’s life, with street rods for the road and sand rails for off-road adventures. “My Father was always into hot rods, race cars, and off roading, so I assume it was in my DNA,” Coddington explained.
“At 13 days old, my eldest son and I were in the sand dunes in Imperial, California running the bowls, hill climbing, and making the trek from Ogilby/Gordon Wells, racing for fun on Oldsmobile Hill to Glamis,” Coddington told us. “Off roading was alive and well for me for many years to come, two boys gave me a reason for more toys!”
The Boyd Coddington Tie
Bringing Jo Coddington even more into the automotive spotlight was her legendary meeting of and marriage to Boyd Coddington. Initially introduced at Hot August Nights in Reno, Nevada by a mutual friend and long-time customer of Boyd’s, Mike Martin, the couple started dating a year later and resulted in a happy marriage and business.
“When Boyd and I got together it was a fun natural fit; car girl and car guy,” Coddington told us.
When Boyd started his business B. Coddington Inc. after being removed from his Hot Rods by Boyd Inc. corporation, Jo stepped in on a small scale, running parts and answering the phones for the fledgling company. Not too long later, Coddington was “booting him (Boyd) out of his office” and became a full-time fixture at the company, wearing every hat from shop mom and friend, to banker, adviser, and even tool cleaner when deadlines were approaching.
“If the guys were at the shop, one or both of us were there,” Coddington explained.
Coddington also traveled with Boyd to car shows and hot rod events around the world, promoting the business and meeting all the amazing people in the industry. One of Coddington’s favorite tasks was bringing in new talent to work under Boyd’s talented eye and watching them grow into amazing craftsman.
In December of 2007, Coddington’s world turned upside down when Boyd was hospitalized over New Years, discharged and then readmitted just a few days later.
During that time, Coddington continued to run the couple’s business and work on one of Boyd’s projects, ultimately completing it while Boyd remained in the hospital. When asked what one of her most memorable moments in her long automotive career has been, she responded, “Finishing the French Connection for Boyd while he was in the hospital; having him on the telephone while Duane cranked the engine for the first time; [and] with pin stripes still wet loading it in a truck for the Detroit Auto show in the DUB booth.”
In February of 2008, Boyd Coddington suffered an untimely death following complications brought on by a recent surgery.
Though suffering the loss of her beloved husband, Jo Coddington persevered and continued to keep up with Boyd’s builds, leading to another one of her most memorable moments, “Finishing up three builds, being proud of the slight changes I made, [and] having the customers ecstatic when they drove them away!”
The Coddington Legacy
Now a motorsports spokesperson and celebrity product endorser under her own business, BID Funding Inc., Coddington continues to carry on Boyd’s legacy as well as take on new automotive challenges of her own.
“Christopher Coddington (Boyd’s son) is building wheels [for] ‘Hot Rods by Boyd‘ and he is doing an amazing job carrying on where his father left off,” Coddington told us. “With Christopher’s keen eye for wheels and my love for the industry, I am hopeful we can continue to become a brand that is recognized worldwide!”
In the near future, Jo Coddington will be adding a few wheel designs of her own to the Coddington lineup.
As a spokeswoman, Coddington travels all over the world speaking about the industry and encouraging women to get involved, one of her favorite things she’s been able to accomplish in the automotive world. “[I like] inviting women to go to the home shops and garages and learn to love what the husband/boyfriend’s passion is all about; to show them its okay to be as involved as they desire, even if they believe such things as a left handed screw driver; to embrace the culture, to be involved!”
This coming year, Coddington will be very busy having been invited to be on an all-girl build, which will air on SPIKE this spring, campaigning with Champion Brands at SEMA as well as looking for distributors for the Classic & Muscle products for the company, as well as International Aero Products.
“I am getting deeply involved with GPS, (Global Preservation Society of Automobile and Motorcycles), I also have a partnership with Pro Internet TV and we are developing applications for motorsports, and other fun industries,” Coddington said. “I am [also] looking forward to working with the SEMA Business Woman’s Association, mentoring some younger women in the industry!” And that doesn’t even touch on what Coddington has planned for her free time!
Currently, Coddington is chasing down an electrical problem in her personal 1940 Ford, which she told us might be the antics of Boyd messing with her. She also plans on working towards her land-speed record in the near future and taking in as many automotive races as she can, as well as potentially turning an unseen rendering done by Boyd and Ed Wimble back in 2003 into a tribute car for Boyd. In five to ten years, Coddington hopes to not only be a record-holder at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but also be inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame, like Boyd was.
So how does she do all this and still stay sane? Well, she explained it this way: “when you’re passionate about who you are, the industry you’re in…. doing things comes easy! Follow your passion and it never feels like work!”
An Inspirational Female
Truly following her automotive passion all her life, Jo Coddington is an inspiration to men and women in the industry alike. In addition to her ties to Boyd Coddington and the business the two of them built up together, Coddington continues to thrive in this male-dominated industry thanks to her perseverance, determination and stellar attitude on life-all things that have contributed to her acceptance in SEMA and the Hot Rod Industry Alliance.
When it comes to making it in the automotive world, especially as a female, she told us, “I don’t look at it the way some do. I feel in any industry you have to measure up per se, so after you pass whatever test is given, you’re accepted and we move on. Being a woman is all I have ever been, and my passion just keeps growing!”
As far as advice for females looking to get into the automotive industry, she encourages them to not wait another second. “RUN, don’t walk,” Coddington expressed. “It’s an amazing ever changing industry, with rewards that never stop, [and] some of the finest people in the world! The only thing that will ever stop anyone, male or female, in this industry is themselves. We’re all here to embrace you!”
Thanks goes out to Coddington for taking the time to talk to us and give us her insight on the industry. We can’t wait to see what the future brings to her!