Brian’s my name, choppings my game!

Posted: December 8, 2012 in Uncategorized
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100_7312 (1024x768)After a day of trying to figure out how to chop the folding top (which, being from a ’64 T’Bird, was a little too tall to begin with), I decided to get the cars original roof out and chop it.  I didn’t like the looks of it on the car after it was originally painted, and never had it on.

Being cautious not to try to lift it, as it weighs considerably more than my Dr. imposed 35 lb weight limit, I used my cherry picker, and carefully wrangled it out of the back corner of the shop.  I flipped it upside down onto two planks laid on saw horses, and started whittling away at with a cut-off tool.

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Figuring it would be easy to chop a top once it was already cut off the car, and considering that this top looks like an afterthought on the car, it was a no brainer to simply cut the required amount off the bottom of the sail panels.  That’s what I did.  I cut 2 1/4″ off the bottom of each side.  There is a little bit of taper, or “tumblehome”, in the top, but it’s still wide enough to fit the body, and have the window roll up properly.

In stock form, the “B” pillar, or sail panel, on these tops is too wide, at least to my eye, and chopping the top made it look even thicker and  clumsier.   As long as I was cutting things up,  might as well take care of that too. 

I cut the back-light frame out of the top,  cut about 6″ of material off the back edge of the top, and then leaned the top of  back-light ahead a couple of inches.  A little experimenting, clamping and blocking got the look I was going for…

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Once the proportions looked “right”, I marked the sections, trimmed off the excess sheet metal, clamped it all back together, and tack welded the backlight frame back on to the top…

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The picture above shows how much the top was shortened, as seen by the original trim piece against the sail panel.  Since the top is removable, and the tonneau cover is a permanent part of the car, it doesn’t make any difference where the glass goes.  The result is a much more graceful, sporty looking profile,  a subtle change that I think will have people wondering what was done. 

Now, I have to finish weld the seam, add some reinforcement to the bottom and reattach the latches (Chrysler “K” car hood latches).   I briefly thought about, as I lowered the top onto the car with the cherry picker, of  moving the top forward to the door opening, shortening it, and making a pick-up, ala “El-Thundero” out of it, but I already have tow real pickup trucks, and it would have been “cartoonish”.  

Here’s what it’ll look like finished, I can hardly wait…T'Bird final art001 (Medium)

   Stay tuned for more, this car has been setting around long enough!

  1. 58 – 62 Birds are not sweet heart cars but I’ve always liked them. I’m looking forward to see how it turns out.

    • flynbrian48 says:

      This car was finished untill somebody backed into me in the parking lot at work. 6 years ago… I’ve been dabbling at it long enough, time to get it done. Hey, it inspired the ’63 Riv and GP, so it’s worth doing.

  2. The early T-Birds are my favorite…I will have one someday…got to finish some trailers first… 🙂 I’ll just live through you for a while

  3. flynbrian48 says:

    Thanks, I have to keep working at it now that I’ve spent some of the Hot Rod Fund on it!

  4. dnuessle says:

    There was a time when I thought it was a great idea to turn my ’79 Special Edition Trans Am into a convertible!

    • flynbrian48 says:

      Hmmm. I’ve seen that generation Firebird as converts, the body lines don’t lend themselves to being topless. Not to mention the lack of body structure to hold it all together without the top. T-tops are bad enough on those! The Thunderbird convert and hardtop bodyshells are the same. The top is a separate assembly that is spot welded to the windshield frame, the C have a long extetion that is spot welded to the wheelhouses and inner body structure. Converts have no “filler” panel between the trunk lid and rear seat package tray (that is hinged to the truck lid), and a different divider panel behind the rear seat. It’s a very rigid body, with or without the top.

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