Chip Foose is my hero.

Chip Foose is my hero.

I’ll say it right now, Chip Foose is a hero of mine.  I’ve heard, and read on-line lately, lots of disparaging remarks about his latest creation, the above Impala which took the Ridler award at AutoRama, but I’m not one of those distractors.  This car is a masterpiece, and was in my head all day yesterday while I was in the shop working on my own two customs, Kim’s ’63 Riviera and my long-term ’59 T’bird project.

I don’t have the talent, vision, or admittedly the budget for a car like this, but I take inspiration for my own cars from Chip’s work, and this one spoke to me at a very visceral level.  It’s absolutely stunning.  The proportions are perfect, the car is radically modified but still looks like a Chevy Impala.  Integrated, unified, classic yet modern/  Everything flows, beautifully detailed to a level that boggles my mind.  It’s everything that I like about custom cars, and everything I’d like to be able to do.

I overheard some comments while looking at the car, and read afterwards, comments along the line of “The Ridler is bought, not earned”, “All Foose’s cars look the same.”, “F-ugly.”, and so on.  My thoughts on looking at this (and LOTS of other cars at the show) were more along the “I could do that.”

In that light, while the images of the car are still fresh in my head, I’m going to get out to the shop and try to get the bodywork on my T’bird, and get busy with the Air-Ride system under the Riviera.  Maybe someday a crowd of guys will stand around my car and mutter “It’s all about money”, “He just wrote the checks”, “I hate painted bumpers”, and occasionally, “I could do that.”

Let’s get busy.


  1. Cris Carver says:

    Although I was not able to see it person I agree with you, it’s a beautiful car. It’s harder I believe to start with a near prefect palette, along with the ’63-’65 Riviera, the ’65 & ’66 Impala were the zenith of sixties design, and to do such an amazing job designing / rethinking, and make your own is high art indeed. I will say and this is just a personal opinion, but I just not a fan of the huge custom rims in vogue today, they never look right proportionally and throw the whole car off a bit. But that being said, for the first time in a long time I think the best car won the award.Thanks

  2. joefoerster says:

    I think the thing to keep in mind is that designers of new production cars have to stick to what a very broad range of people will like or the car won’t sell to a broad range of people. When we do custom, people not only see our unique take, they also see what was… what you started with, which they may have more or less affinity for than you did. Customs that respect the original vs ones that change the tune radically… all have a place but resonate differently with the beholder.

    We pay a lot of lip service to creating our unique vision or style. “Make it ours.” “Make it personal.” And we forget that when we do that, not everyone will like it. If you want to sell it later, go easy. If you really want to make it yours, go wild. Chip is building to a certain audience that likes the more radical custom and that’s great! But lovers of the pure Impala might be horrified. Not much you can do. There is a small group of folks who will just trash anything, but we can safely ignore them. 😉

  3. I took a brief look at it and quickly turned to who was standing with me and said “that’s the Riddler winner for this year” It might even be why a car I was expecting to show from Andice,TX was a no show this year. Just hearing that Foose was bringing a creation would delay a project of mine from debuting if I had that kind of moo-la to sink into one. He has a vision, creativity and staff that are just that good. Something that any builder or enthusiast can draw to/from.
    Well deserved accolades.

  4. BTW— after the brief look, I did study it for quite a while ——- on four or five different passes over 2 days. hehe

  5. Paul McClain says:

    When I first saw the Impala I thought “something just isn’t right”. It took several minutes of looking and reading the article to realize the amount of modifications that went into the car. The claim that the Ridler award is bought is a somewhat legitimate claim, but i’m sorry. You just don’t reach this level without putting in large amounts of cash. The paint alone is far above what most people can do, not to mention the metal work, fabrication and engineering that goes into a project of this scope. So let us look and admire and be inspired by the artist and craftsmen that can do work at this level.
    Paul McClain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s