This month's cover car is significant in a number of ways. First of all, you've probably figured out by now that this wild custom Shoebox Chevy is owned by Christopher Titus, who is known as an actor, comedian, and one of Hollywood's few true diehard hot rodders. Another interesting note is that Titus has owned this car since he was a teenager. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the highly modified coupe-turned-roadster was built by father-and-son team Chip and Sam Foose--and it's one of the most expensive and far-out custom Chevys we've yet to lay eyes on. Virtually every panel on the car has been massaged to match the original concept sketches Chip penned at the start of the ambitious transformation, and a thoroughly modern undercarriage helps the sleek roadster drive as good as it looks.
The story behind the car sounds like a hot rod fairy tale. Anyone who has ever listened to the man's standup routine or seen his TV show knows that Titus came from an interesting family, and that his main passion in life is a love of cars, especially '56 Chevys. Originally purchased as a nice old two-door coupe when he was 19 years old, Titus began to slowly rebuild his dream ride, which he repeated a few years later when his comedy career began to take off. After signing up with a network to do a sitcom centered around a hot rod shop owner who has problems dealing his family (the main character drove a '56 Chevy, see the sidebar), he decided it was time to step up to the big league and commission famed designer Chip Foose to transform his trusty old ride into the ultimate rolling work of art.
Chip channeled his considerable talents into morphing the clean but boxy lines of a mid-'50s Chevy into a sleek and stylish cruiser. The top needed to come off, the windshield could be raked back, a few bodylines altered, different trim mounted to the sides, and modern underpinnings packed with technology would round out the package. Giant custom wheels would look appropriate, and a super-sano leather-lined cockpit was a must. Once the details were nailed down, it came time to execute the ideas, so Chip called in reinforcements in the form of his father Sam, a well-known custom builder in his own right. A custom tube frame was fitted with C5 Corvette suspension, while a fuel-injected crate motor and overdrive transmission took care of driving duties. What's wrong...the motor in the picture doesn't look like an injected, small-block Chevy? That's because it's camouflaged by a one-off cover that blends the lines of the engine compartment with the rest of the car. Sam cut and shaped every panel on the car to match his son's drawings, then everything was slathered in BMW Silver and GMC Yukon Blue. In the cockpit, a custom dash and console lend the car a jet fight feel, while cut-down Cobra seats were covered in leather by Gabe's Upholstery. Finishing touches include a custom aluminum tonneau cover and removable roof, as well as 20-inch one-off billet wheels by Foose.
So how much green did Titus shell out to achieve his dream? Let's just say that you could buy a pretty nice house and have enough change leftover to throw a moving-in party with a few dozen friends. Was it worth it? He certainly thinks so, as evidenced by the man's ear-to-ear grin when he pulled up at the photo shoot location after cruising across L.A. with the wind in his hair and the purr of a 360-horse V-8 in his ears. That's right, boys and girls, Titus DROVE this car in over two hours of freeway traffic to get where he had to go, with no trailers or car haulers in sight--the sign of a true hot rodder indeed...
Sherman Oaks, California
'56 Chevrolet Custom Roadster
A brand new GM Performance Parts Ramjet 350 crate motor was tapped for this project, as the trick little engine provides a reliable 360 hp while packing the economy of modern EFI with the cool look of vintage Rochester mechanical injection. A hand-made engine cover mated with custom valve covers, both by Foose Design, ties the engine compartment in with the sleek lines of the rest of the car. Since real rods have three pedals, a new T56 six-speed manual tranny was bolted in behind the 350.
A totally custom one-off tube frame was built by Foose Design, then fitted with new C5 Corvette independent suspension, Aldan coilover shocks, massive Baer Racing disc brakes, and a Dutchman rearend.
WHEELS & TIRES:
Chip started off his career designing billet wheels, so its natural to assume that a car he designed would have some pretty wild rollers. In this case Foose and Titus got together and decided to fuse the modern look of giant billet "dubs" with the vintage feel of classic Halibrands. The result is a one-off design Chip calls the "Knight." Measuring 20x8 inches in front and 20x10 inches out back, these massive shoes leave a pretty big footprint, so all four wheelwells needed to be seriously cut and worked over to ensure proper fit.
Sam Foose changed just about every panel on the car to obtain the look his son came up with, including chopping up the hood, fenders, trunk, rear quarter-panels, front fenders, and both bumpers. The roof was cut off, the headlights were frenched with F100 trim rings, the trim was altered, and a windshield off a Ford was utilized. A Jaguar provided the door handles, and custom red lenses filled with LED lights light things up in the rear.
Foose Fords and Mitch Lanzini prepped the panels for pigment, then sprayed the car down with a two-tone coat of BMW Silver and GMC Yukon Dark Blue. A tasteful red pinstripe sets things off.
After extending the dash 4 inches into the doors, fabricating a custom center console, cutting down a pair of Cobra bucket seats, and fitting a custom centerpiece to a stock '56 steering wheel, the Foose crew delivered the car to Gabe's Upholstery, who covered everything the seating surfaces and panels with blue and gray leather. Creature comforts include climate control by Vintage Air and a thumpin' stereo by Diamond Audio.
THE "SHOW" CAR
Perhaps you noticed the other '56 Chevy on this month's cover, a red Handyman station wagon adorned with wild flames and polished five-spoke wheels. You might even recognize the car but can't quite figure out where you've seen it before. As fans of the Titus TV show can tell you, this is the car that Chris Titus' character on the show drove and worked on. While most "TV cars" are shoddy and ill-fitting piles of shiny junk upon closer inspection in the real world, this particular celebrity station wagon is totally bitchin', more than likely because it's a cherished part of the Titus stable. A stunning white tuck 'n' roll interior sets off retina-searing red paint and dancing flames laid out by Chip Foose, while polished aluminum wheels, also by Foose, round out the package. Like his roadster, this car is powered by a GM Performance Parts Ramjet 350, so it's got some muscle to back up the look. In a battle for television car supremacy we think this thing could wipe the floor with Knight Rider's Trans Am or Magnum's Ferrari.