Posts Tagged ‘Auto Rama’

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.


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!