I'm a big fan of mild customs that have been built with an eye for how the original designer imagined it would look before all the committees and accountants stuck their noses into the design process. If you look at original concept sketches and artwork from design studios of the major car manufacturers from the '50s and '60s, all the cars look chopped. They all look wider, too, but that's another story. You'll also notice they're not chopped in the "let's chop it so everyone knows we chopped it" kind of way, which is so popular with some people today (these are usually the ones selling their unfinished projects in the weekly rags).

I like a chop that matches the proportions of the top to the proportions of the body. Some people say there's a formula: two-thirds body and one-third top, which is probably a good guideline. But I like to think of it more along the lines of a woman's figure. You can't calculate a formula to find out why it's great; you just know it when you see it.

A great figure works as a whole. No one part stands out more than any other. Each curve and line flows into the next flawlessly, all the major shapes complement each other in a pleasing way, and most importantly, they all work from every angle. So if you take anything away from this article, let it be this: You're not just chopping the roof, you're customizing the entire car's shape. So think about it all. Look at it from all angles to see that it's working. How is the back window area working with the rear decklid and how does this work with the front of the car? How are the side window openings working in relation to the crown of the roof, as well as the body sides? How does it all look from the front, sides, and three-quarter view, and very importantly, how does it look from the driver seat? After all, that's where you'll be living in this thing.

So, although we will be doing some measuring to get started, after that it's all down to the eye and what we find pleasing. And if you need inspiration, you can do yourself absolutely no harm going back and studying the work of Sam Barris, Valley Customs, and Harry Bradley. To paraphrase Picasso, don't be afraid to steal.

We were lucky enough to spend some time at The Nostalgia Ranch and watch Jay Dean perform some magic on a Ford Shoebox, turning the coupe into a lowered-lid hardtop. This month we'll cover the easy part of cutting the roof free.

SOURCE
The Nostalgia Ranch
Indio
CA