The All Ford Mustangs family lost a special member on Christmas Eve, and even as one club rallied in his name, police appeared no closer to finding who killed Joe Gosinski, or why.
Gosinski was internationally famous for his work on Mustangs and his Chicane Sport Tuning shop in Torrance, Calif. He was found in the shop after making a call at 1:15 a.m. to 911. Police arrived to find only his body. The county coroner eventually determined he had been struck in the back of the head before being killed by a gunshot to the chest. He was 44.
One of the earliest members of the All Ford Mustangs forum, Joe was remembered by site founder Scott Halliday as one of the best Mustang tuners in the business. The photos that accompany this story were taken while Joe was working on Scott's 347 cubic-inch motor for a drop-top Fox body.
"Words can't express how great a mechanic he was. His passion to perfectionism was matched only by his commitment to quality workmanship. As a true innovator, Joe's creative genius can be seen in many of his customer's cars and products he bought to market such as the Chicane Fox Box and Double By-Pass Radiator." Scott said. "We're still in shock -- my wife Cathy and I -- at the news."
Halliday is not alone in those sentiments, or in the opinion that Joe Gosinski was one of the best.
Gosinski's brother John, told the Los Angeles Daily Breeze that the two had developed an interest in cars while growing up in the Detroit area. Their father, he said, "always had really neat cars," and his sons grew up with model cars and Hot Wheels.
After serving in the Army, Joe went to work with Saleen Autosport before moving to Torrance and opening Chicane. "He was just a gearhead," his brother told the Breeze. "He could listen to a motor and tell you what was wrong with it."
He is also credited with inventing a series of improvements for the Fox body 'Stang, including a strut tower brace used by Saleen and a cold air intake box that fit neatly into the passenger-side fender.
The brace, which ran through an opening between the lid and the supercharger inner cooler, provided the suspension system more rigidity, and allowed for the hood to close.
Jon Schultz, president of the Beach Cities Mustang Club, said Gosinski worked on his car several times and became a member of the organization. The club has renamed its Supercruise 4, which ran Feb. 13, the Joe Gosinski Memorial Cruise. Funds raised have been offered as a reward to help find the person or people who ended his life. That reward now stands at $15,000.
"He was a member of the club, but more so he was a supporter and really helped a lot of people realize their dreams with their Mustangs," Schultz told the Daily Breeze.
His expertise was recognized in the auto-entertainment world as well, and he did duty on Chip Foose's "Overhaulin'" show.
The Breeze reported friends described Gosinski as a good guy, but said he was a "straight shooter" with an abrasive personality. He never minced words.
"He took great pride in being a perfectionist," said Matt Bernal, who worked for him. "You didn't last here if you didn't work the Joe way."
Gosinski's shop also served as a collection drop for the Beach Cities Mustang Club annual Christmas toy drive, which delivers gifts to children at several hospitals. Schultz's wife, Pam, said she spoke to Gosinski just days before the shooting when he called to say he had a few more toys to be picked up, and invited her to come for a Christmas hug.
Pam Schultz said she did not get the chance to collect the toys or receive that last hug.
"He just really loved kids," she told the Breeze. "He would have been a great dad. It's just really unfortunate he never got the chance to do that." Gosinski lived with his girlfriend and her daughter in Huntington Beach.
Others felt close to the master tuner, and forum boards from Saleen to Shelby and all points in between have been filled with his praise. A memorial Facebook page has attracted hundreds of members, and many still clamor for information about the killing. But there is little to give.
As recently as March 8, Det. Dennis Brady of the Torrance Police Department issued another appeal for information.
"I want to thank those who are still calling with information," he wrote Feb. 3. "We are still working hard to make sure this case does not go cold, but only your help with keep this going. All it takes is one tip, or someone with key information to have the courage to call and let us know what they know. Det. D. Brady 310-618-5719."
The many people who clicked "like," and hundreds of Mustang fans around the world, hope that information comes soon.