Custom car painter and fabricator Bo Huff was born to Gervis & Corene Huff on March 12, 1943 in Clarksville, Arkansas. He was the middle son of three children. In 1953, when Bo was in the 4th grade, the family moved to Dragerton, Utah where his father, Gervis, found employment in the coal mines.
Bo spent his teenage years in Dragerton during the 1950's attending East Carbon High School. By the age of 14, he was hanging out with older kids and reading the hot rod publications of the day. Carbon County, Utah had quite a fair amount of customs and hot rods back then. One of the first cars to receive Bo's magic touch was a 1950 Dodge. He was 18 at the time and recalls, "I was always looking at the older guys in their lowered cars and loved them." The modifications to that car were simple: heated springs and bumpers swapped out from a '49 Plymouth but it was the beginning of his life long love affair with automobile fabrication, paint, slicked back hair, cuffed jeans and engineer boots.
The first car club Bo ever belonged to was The Scrapers of Dragerton, which is now defunct. During this time he used to go on rides with the other guys in their lowered Carbon County Customs. It was then that he started to develop a keen eye for body mods and would suggest styling & modification tips to his friends and acquaintances. Most of the time they would listen and their cars would turn out quite pleasing to the eye. Bo’s addiction for custom cars and hot rods was in full swing. Hot rodding, cruising, rockabilly music and building custom cars became his life’s calling. For Bo, just as his dedicated peers: Gene Winfield, Bill Hines, and George Barris, to not build customs was a fate worse than death.
Following his passion for cars, Bo and Stan Robles (owner of a Barris custom) left Carbon County and attended a body and fender school in Denver, Colorado. Upon finishing school in Denver, Bo returned to Utah and settled in Salt Lake City. He promptly bought a '27 T, and worked on it off and on for the next several years. Bo recalls, “State Street was the place to be, it was like a car show back then. Full of low slung primered customs, painted customs and Hot Rods. We would all cruise to Don Carlos' and Fred & Kelly's. Those were the hot spots on State Street.”
After painting and lowering many a car in Utah, Bo then moved to Orange County, California during the mid 1960's. It was in Orange County that Bo opened his own custom car shop. Here vehicles would be nosed, decked, shaved, lowered with the all important metal flake paint jobs applied. He called them, “works of art on wheels.” Eventually Bo would move to Fayetteville, Arkansas and open another shop. It was there that he did sub- frame, chop top and flame jobs. It is estimated that Bo has built over 200 hundred cars in his career, many of them 1950’s era Mercs and show cars. Notable horsepower in the Huff car stable includes a 1950 chopped, shaved and lowered Merc called “The Bad Boy”, a radical 1926 T called “Bad-itude” (built for Genie Shifter/Streamline), and Koolhouse Publishing’s Alan Mayes award winning 1961 Pontiac Ventura “Pancho Brilliante” (a car that Larry Watson deemed as having “the best old school paint job at the 2007 Grand National Roadster Show.”) At least 25 other Huff projects (including Koolhouse Publisher Geno DiPol’s “Dixie Deluxe” Merc) have received recognition in national magazines such as Hot Rod, Custom Rodder, Rod & Custom, Lowrider, Hot Rod Mechanix, Ol’ Skool Rodz, Car Kulture Deluxe and others.
Bo lived in East Carbon, Utah where it all started for him. He built some of the nicest customs around including projects for private clientele and his own radical build, a 1951 Merc, which has been 10 years in development. He helmed shopbohuffcustoms.com, The Bo Huff Custom & Hot Rod Museum (Utah) and is creator of the skull air breather. He was a host to annual shows: The Bo Huff Rockabilly Reunion, (each July in East Carbon), The Rockabilly Route 66 Car Show (held in conjunction with The Stater Brothers Annual Route 66 Rendezvous), Huffarama 2010, and The Rockabilly Extravaganza (Riverside Airport, CA).
When he wasnt building custom cars, he promoted the kustom kulture lifestyle, traveled to various automotive events throughout the United States, promoted rockabilly music and was father to seven children: Lisa, Michelle, Amy, Kendall, James, Maddy and Junior and two grandchildren Jonny and Corene. Junior Huff, an accomplished striper, was mentored by both his father and Stella, and has been striping cars since the age of 5. In 2007, at the age of 16, he was the youngest co-presenter of The Von Dutch Stripers Award in the history of The Grand National Roadster Show.
Bo Huff passed away on Aug, 2, 2015 after a 5 year battle with multiple myeloma but the Huff tradition of custom car fabrication and painting continues with Junior Huff at Bo Huff Customs (Utah).
--Anna Marco, Sr. Feature Editor, Koolhouse Publishing (2015)
The Community Daze Car Show in Sunnyside, Utah (second weekend of July) and the Huffarama Car Show in Ontario, California (Satruday after Thanksgiving) will still go on in Bo Huff's name.