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Speed & Custom Shop

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Speed and Custom Division Shop, more commonly abbreviated, and referenced to as Speed & Custom Shop, was a relatively short-lived construction company, specialized in manufacturing wooden mock-ups, that has provided production assets for the production of Star Trek: The Original Series.

The Phoenix, Arizona based, Speed and Custom Division Shop, was established by Gene Winfield in 1966 at the request of his employer, model kit company Aluminum Metal Toys (AMT). Incorporated as a subsidiary, AMT needed the company to build both full-scale and scaled automobile mock-ups (typically out of wood at the time) to promotional ends, as well as to manufacture the templates or masters in order to construct the molds from which the parts for their model kits were extracted or cast. Winfield headed the subsidiary company as production manager.

Class F shuttlecraft Galileo mock-up worked upon by two staffers of Speed & Custom Shop

Employees of Speed & Custom Shop working on the full scale Galileo mock-up

It was in this time that Stephen Edward Poe managed to broker a deal between Gene Roddenberry and AMT. The agreement entailed that AMT were given the exclusive rights to manufacture model kits based on the new Star Trek television series in return for helping out Desilu Studios with the construction of set pieces when the need arose. As it turned out that proviso was invoked upon on two occasions, and AMT reverted this task to its subsidiary. The first time was in 1967 when the company was tasked with the construction of the full scale exterior as well as the full scale interior mock-up of the Class F shuttlecraft, what was to become the Galileo 7, complemented by an accompanying scaled filming model. Winfield headed a team of 20-25 craftsmen for the two full scale mockups, as well as a team of three for the scaled miniature. (The Ships of Star Trek, p. 108) Producer Robert Justman in particular has expressed his satisfaction over the deal struck with AMT, "It was a full-scale model that the actors could walk and talk in. All it costs us was the expanse to truck it from Arizona to the set in Los Angeles." (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 84) The second instance occurred one year later, when the company was tasked to build the D7-class model, at first at the behest of AMT itself, that wanted to do a follow-up of their highly successful USS Enterprise model kit. Nevertheless one of their two master tooling models was appropriated by the studio to function as a filming model for the series' third season. In both instances, Gene Winfield served as lead builder and supervisor. While their creations became signature features of the franchise, neither Speed & Custom Shop nor Supervisor Winfield, as subcontractors, were ever accorded with official credit for their contributions.

Toward the end of the 1960s, the company was relocated to Santa Monica, California. Gene Winfield left the company in 1970 in order to pursue projects of his own. AMT closed down Speed & Custom Shop the following year, due to a recession in nation wide sales of model kits. Winfield recalled, "Although the facility has never been intended to make a profit on its own, and existed only for research, development and publicity, I managed to bring the operation to break-even point before it was closed." (Starlog, issue 53, p. 28). Star Trek has been the only motion picture industry production, the company provided services to.


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