When did you start thinking about modifying your car? Maybe you were admiring your new purchase as it sat glowing in your driveway for the very first time; maybe it was on the ride home as you eased it on through corners felt the motor whine; maybe the gears of industry were spinning inside your brain before you even began sifting through online ads. In today’s open-ended world of modifications, your brain and your wallet are the limits to what you can hope to achieve in the customization of your shiny new project. With all of this free lateral space from which builders have to maneuver their projects on, the variables are endless and yet we still see repetition in the type of cars that people often build.
Alas, to stand out you must not only be different, you must be extremely different. One proven way to blast through with steam to spare is the application of an in-depth modification many builders are quick to shy away from, let alone even consider – chopping. It’s not an easy job and it’s not a cheap one either, but the rewards pay back dividends with interest for those that pull it off right. For those that don’t hit the nail on the head, it can be a waste of money for a project you thought would be cool but isn’t. In fact, if you’re already that far gone, you probably don’t even realize how bad your situation really is.
You almost don’t even notice the California window mod amidst the far-out handy work of the mad scientist behind this lunacy. The chop on this completely custom build somehow seems to preserve the rear split-window dimensions while slimming down the side windows to almost a sliver. Even without all the front sheet metal, it looks a hundred times more aerodynamic than a stock Volkswagen ever did and the heavy duty wheels nicely accent the red flames on the hubcaps while bold, three-spoke spinners draw attention to them. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it has a small block V-8 up front. It pales a bit in significance when sitting right below the super chop right above it.
19 Silver Bullet
Actually, they call her Bugly, but any reference to ugly is lost on me with this one. Bugs are cool enough to a point where it’s hard to turn them into garbage, but they don’t just get this awesome on their own.
It takes a special blend of fabricating, engineering, vision, and execution.
All of those attributes are necessary to bring the many concepts together in a cohesive manner. It’s slammed, split, chopped and its insides removed. A cage surrounds the pilot and co-pilot who have been relocated to the back seat to accommodate the extra cylinders that happen to be nestled comfortably behind the front axle.
18 ’51 Ford Shoebox
Sometimes, a one-off can take a concept to the extreme and back while maintaining a class and humility. Not much looks humble about this super sick sled but notice that no chrome can be seen anywhere – the finish is primarily matte with some brushed aluminum on the semi-gloss rims. The shoebox needs no bling to be flashy, but the unmistakable design features that complement the rivet-lined olive drab skin like the yellow checkering at the bumper and the mission counter stamps on the fender instantly throw a thoughtful shout out to this car’s airborne military counterparts of the same era. There is nothing not cool about this car – aside from the fact that it’s not in my driveway right now.
17 Mean Deuce And A Half Chop
The 2 ½ ton M35A2 is a workhorse truck that has seen more service than General Patton and inherited its namesake from a WWII truck of the same design.
The 6X6 cargo truck is more battle proven than a Katana and thus made the perfect project truck for a rod-like none that has ever been seen before.
A truly unique custom like this with this much dimension is hard to come by. But if you have a chopped M35 to start with, the insurmountable task becomes a milk run. Just slam it, take a few parts off and hit your nearest car show.
16 2nd Generation Subtlety
The Chevy II is in its most popular variant in its ’66-‘67 form. The smaller number of vehicles that were produced during this short time makes it one of the rarest Novas to get your hands on. It also strikes a nice balance of symmetry to the earth’s surface that rests pleasantly with the eyes. John Sutton’s Chevy II has countless little details that make the car stand out; a quick once-over reveals a modified ride height with aftermarket suspension components and a rack and pinion conversion. What’s unique about this car is what most people will never notice; the top is, in fact, chopped – by one whole inch.
15 Solo Charger
Batman witnessed a tragedy that traumatized him into becoming the man of bats; if the Batmobile had a trauma in its past that made it the car of the man of bats, I’d be inclined to point a finger over in this direction.
This 1970 Dodge Charger has been worked so hard under the hammer that almost every dimension is modified from the original design spec.
The meanest part about Solo Charger, however, is what sleeps right in front of the TKO600 transmission – a Dodge NASCAR R5 race motor rated at 730hp. The only question remains, is it meaner than it looks, or does it look meaner than it is? The world may never know.
14 1954 Fire Truck Salvage
This love story starts out as your typical "man sees ’54 International fire truck chassis at junkyard next to crusher; man adopts stray ’54 fire truck chassis and saves from the crusher; man turns ’54 fire truck into a crusher in its own right." The build plans included custom everything from an International truck bed narrowed 10” to fit between the ‘54’s frame rails to an eight-inch chop on the roof. The rig sits comfortably on the ground at a state of rest but the big block 460cid Ford motor ensures there’s nothing comfortable about her when she’s up and running.
13 Model A Tudor Slam
Maybe it’s just me and my increasing perception of my surroundings, or maybe it’s actually gaining popularity in restorations across a wide spectrum of genres. Either way, the inclusion of aviation-inspired elements into custom builds is a refreshing trend. It almost takes us away to a fantasy-themed steampunk past we never had. The rivet-lined windows and body panels mesh well with the lightning holes in the visor and on the frame rails. It’s topped off with a 5 ½” chop that’s slammed so hard the rear wheels creep halfway up the back windows. Somehow, this car has so much personality that the base rims don’t even seem that bad.
12 Angry Pete
The personality assumed by any particular vehicle is largely determined by the molding of the body lines as they mimic human-like features. If cars had moods, this one would just be angry. Whether it woke up on the wrong side of the bed or kids were breaking into its garage to steal the green Gran Torino, the custom chop narrows the windows toward the front of the cab and the windshield panes flare out at the edges. The cab is bare metal and there is no hood to hide the 852cid Detroit V-12 or the pipes sliding off the heads and down the pavement across the cab. Get off my lawn.
11 Ricky Bobby’s Rod
This isn’t Will Ferrell’s custom ’28 although he probably wishes it was. The Manchester, Tennessee rod shop is actually called Ricky Bobby’s Rod Shop. Not surprisingly, Ricky Bobby’s Rod Shop likes to build rods that “just wanna go fast.”
It could also be said that Ricky Bobby is just fast all around because this slammed and chopped ’28 was completed in just 100 days.
Ricky Bobby’s instructions for the build were simple: “Build me a white car with whitewalls and chopped all to hell,” according to a Speed Hunters article. “Call me when you’re done.” Months later, a nine-inch chop and a chromed out ’65 Nailhead V-8 was at the other end of that phone call.
10 Bare Metal And Some Black Spokes
Bare metal and some black spokes – that’s all you need because rugged is in and the ever-expanding definition of what a hot rod can be has been pumping out some of the coolest custom builds we’ve ever seen.
Big-power motors and bullet-proof drivelines are combined with chopped, notched, slammed and sectioned shells dabbled with a bit of retro and a lot of grunge – the rustier the better.
With so much corrosion, it’s hard to tell sometimes which builds are top-notch and which ones are budget-built – but when you see a chopped roofline you can bet some heavy-duty shenanigans went down on that ride.
9 Salt Flat Outlaws
Nestled deep within northwestern Utah’s Tooele County lays a natural land feature so barren and beautiful, the ambiance is almost alien. The Bonneville Salt Flats is a densely packed salt pan managed by a public office; and as such, remains wide open for all salt-flat fun you can bite your tires into. It’s a wide-open expanse of nothing to hit, nothing do dip into – just flat, compact roadbed to balls your machine out to the max on. Cars of all makes, models, and configurations, fiberglass-shelled rockets to riveted sheet metal come to play. It’s here that you’ll find Outlaw Speed Shop’s roster of chopped rods screaming down the surface with their distinctly-chopped windows you couldn’t fit a soda can through.
8 Rusty Slammington
A 2011 garage fire almost ended the E28’s service life early but Mike and Byron Wilcox would have nothing to do with parting with the car. Rather than quit in the face of adversity, they started out with the hollow E28 shell and custom-built every inch of tube chassis that would tuck inside of it. This platform would allow for the fine-tuning of every element like engine placement and suspension set up. In addition to the standard roof chop, the wheelbase was trimmed by a whole foot to severely displace it from anything resemblance it once shared with its original form.
7 Long Lincoln
Some chops have to be extensively worked to form the metal into a cohesive conglomerate of geometrically friendly angles while others seem to pull it off naturally. The Continental line has been one of the most stubborn nameplates in automotive history with three different production runs since the late ‘30s – the car just refuses to go away.
The Lincoln Continental in its fourth-generation sports some of the most elegantly simple body lines one could ask for, it’s almost as if it was in a contest to squeeze the most personality out of the smallest possible amount of detail.
Long, straight lines of the Lincoln adopt a chop of any size with a grace that looks straight out of an artist’s rendition of what the car always should have been.
6 Better On Screen
This Hot Wheels build is a tribute to the greatest movie franchise in history. It salutes the honor of the Imperial Star Fleet commander (or whatever he was) Darth Vader. If you’re torn between liking and hating this thing you’re definitely not alone, but a few facts about it may sway you in one direction or another. First off, the builders went to great lengths to ensure it was a working prototype – engine and all; the Vader is based off a C-5 Corvette platform and, according to Car and Driver, is roughly 50% lighter (don’t ask me how). It can purportedly fly at speeds around 150mph, is equipped with a drift brake and is LS3 powered. If you can’t like it after that, you just can’t like it.
5 Mini Trucks
Chops look good on a wide variety of cars through a wide variety of themes and greatly enhance that custom-feel. Although still somewhat ‘effect-enhancing,’ chopping your mini truck from the late-‘80s is far too great a commitment of labor into a project that ultimately isn’t that cool. Sure full-blown race trucks are impressive to look at and you can’t help but appreciate all the engineering but seriously – when you’ve spent $10k on frame and suspension mods, chop the top and paint it all nice and pretty, you still have a ‘90s beater that still looks like a ‘90s beater, just an expensive one now. If you can’t lay down nine-second quarter-miles all day, every day – get off my lawn.
4 ’76 El Caminos (ALL OF THEM)
It’s no secret these things are just about useless – you don’t ever hardly see them at car shows nor do you spot them out on the road in your everyday travels.
It’s just a little too new and ugly to be a classic and a little too old and beat up to be a good driver.
All of this, however, did not stop the Japan-based full-custom shop, Paradise Road, from trying to pimp one out. The result is a jalopy named "Sweet Dreams" that’s still about as ugly as she was before restoration. Pro Tip: Not even a hardcore chop like this could save her.
3 Stretched, Slammed And Shortened
A car can only ever be as good as it can ever be – the Saturn line, in 100% of examples, wants nothing to do with greatness. In fact, they shy away from such accolades with a shudder (seriously, the ride quality really sucks).
The starting point for this project was a stock ’92 Saturn which already spelled disaster.
Although there’s a certain charm to its throwback-tribute to the ‘90s, the amount of work that went into this project could have been spent chopping your ’78 Ranchero roof or installing sticky fender vents on a Prius. Just about any expulsion of creative energy would have been less wasted than it was on what this Saturn ended up turning into. Why guy?
2 Impreza Chop
This is either the Impreza of your dreams or just a sad way to blow your unborn child’s chance for further education – either way you look at it, the Impreza was valued closer to a house than a car. At 10 times the original MSRP, this $250,000, EJ-equipped track star resides in Japan and has more mods and upgrades than you can shake a stick at. One of the most notable features, however, is the roof chop. Although this clean and highly professional build looks stupendous, the prohibitive cost required to out-do the manufacturer is a way overboard for an Impreza. Hope you got gap insurance, buddy.
1 ED7 Chop
The picture does it zero justice, but a gander under a magnifying glass would reveal factory-fresh cleanliness in each and every casting crevice on the engine block; outside, the flawlessly accenting paint detail on the rims ties the corners of the car together.
She’s a real beauty – chopped to bring the roof line down to where it should have been.
The verdict: I low-key love this little guy although I’m so not a Honda guy. That being said – I’ll leave you with this wildcard to decide if you like it for yourself or not. I think its super-pimp but I still wouldn’t pay you more than $1,200 for it.
Sources: justacarguy.blogspot.com, rodauthority.com, supershevy.com, engineswapdepot.com, hotrod.com, hotrodnetwork.com.