American Dream Cars Of The 1960S Take To The Fairway By: Pebble Beach Concours
The Reactor will appear along with nine other one-off creations at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance this August
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (June 29, 2017)
—Stargazers with dreams too big for a small town often pack their bags and head for one city: Hollywood. Legendary custom car builder Gene Winfield is a man who had very big dreams, but not for himself. His aspiration was to create a futuristic, aluminum-bodied custom automobile.
'I put the car in an open trailer and I towed it straight to Hollywood,' said Winfield of Modesto, California, about his custom coupe, called The Reactor. Appearing at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in a special class for one-off American Dream Cars of the 1960s, the Reactor will uphold its celebrity status as both an iconic dream and significant character in some of the world's most-remembered films and television shows.
Winfield initially imagined and built The Reactor for Joe Kizis' 1965 annual Autorama car show in Hartford, Connecticut. After its time spent touring back east, Winfield brought the Reactor back to California, where he entered it in the Grand National Roadster Show. Against tough competition, the Reactor won the coveted Tournament of Fame Award. Winfield soon realized even bigger dreams for his car. So, he packed up the Reactor and took it to Hollywood, where it captured the attention of leading filmmakers.
'I didn't know anybody,' Winfield recalled, 'but I found 20th Century Fox Studios and I went up to the gate and conned them into letting me in to show my car to their transportation department. From there, the transportation coordinator gave me the names and addresses of all these other studios, and for two days, I took the car around and handed out my business card. Two weeks later, Bewitched called me and said that they wanted The Reactor on their set.'
The Reactor starred in an episode of Bewitched called 'The Super Car,' which was written to showcase the futuristic car's exciting capabilities, like its hydro-pneumatic height adjustable suspension. It was also featured in an episode of Star Trek as the 'Jupiter 8' and a Mission: Impossible episode called 'The Freeze,' but it is perhaps best known for its appearance in the third and final season of the Batman television series, where it was the getaway car for Catwoman, played by actress Eartha Kitt.
The car was created around a Citroën DS chassis and its unique hydro-pneumatic suspension so that it could move up and down, a feature that was far ahead of its time. 'The inspiration I had for the car was to make something different, something wild,' Winfield said. He installed a 180-hp turbocharged engine from a Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, and paired it with the Citroën DS's drivetrain. The Reactor was born as a two-seater, mid-engine car, with its most recognizable feature being its very low profile. Cleverly, Winfield used the Corvair flat-6 engine as a stylistic tool, because he wanted the Reactor to be as low and close to the ground as possible.