Many would say a custom isn't a custom until the top's been chopped. Honestly, it's a hard point to argue! When the topic of customs comes up, the proverbial "go to" image seems to be a slammed and chopped Mercury. No matter how ya wanna slice it, the key component to a full custom is a chop. It's been one of the top methods customizers have used over the years to give their creations that one-of-a-kind look and signature style.
When delving into the topic of chops things expand into a cosmic land of imagination. For a chop isn't just simply the mere matter of lowering the lid, it's a planned and executed mission to alter the flow and profile of a custom. Slicing and dicing the roof skin is only the grunt work of the job. The real work is in the planning and design. Depending on how and where one cuts the top will significantly alter the outcome of the chop. If there's one thing to be said about a custom car, it's "to each his own." Custom cars are the visual aftermath of one's take on creativity and imagination. Oftentimes the finished product may not sit well with the masses, but to its builder and designer it's exactly what was needed. It's that customizer's philosophical approach that makes customs so great because there is no right or wrong way to chop a top; there's only the "right" chop for you. Because of that we get a plethora of chops and various styles.
As for the chop on hand, the subject is a '47 Ford. When it comes to chopping tops some cars lend themselves with ease, while others create a more difficult task. Fords from 1940 to 1948, and for that matter, most manufacturers' offerings of the era, are regarded as some of the hardest to chop. In a quick sentence, chopping the top is a bit like chopping an egg! There are curves for days. Because of this a little more planning is required to make sure things are going to keep that hourglass-like flow.
Star Kustom Shop has been presented with chopping a '47 Ford with that old-school custom look. Now besides creating that period look, the biggest item on the agenda is keeping all the crown in the roof that Henry had intended. From front to back and side to side Star Kustom wants to make sure the Ford retains all of its telltale lines and curves, only on a smaller scale. The customer wants a pretty significant chop, 4½ inches from the A-pillars, so their work is cut out for them. To accommodate the heavy chop and flowing lines, a plan to lower the quarter window section down first and then "design" the rest of the skin around that drop has been concocted. As you'll see through a series of cuts the top will drop down and pretty much just mate up, however, a few filler pieces will be needed in various areas.
Before we delve in, keep this in mind; before any cutting was made various bracing was placed inside the car to keep things true. Star Kustom Shop also ran a center line down the middle of the roof, and tacked a center line gauge to the windshield opening to aid in laying out and cutting the top. It's all the little precursors to the job that help ensure a symmetric and spot-on chop. Now let's get to it.
1. Here's the blank canvas. Needless to say the Ford is in desperate need of a chop. All I can see when I look at the bulbous top is shades of the Barris-built Bob Hope golf cart! (For those not familiar, one word . . . Google!)
2. The plan is to whack 4½ inches from the center of the A-post. Like always the center of the post is found and the drop is split north and south. One thing to note is the 4½-inch measurement is diagonal along the post, yet the vertical drop calculates to 37⁄8 inch. The B- and C-pillars will get a 37⁄8-inch sliver removed to keep the top on an even keel.
3. Dakota Wentz of Star Kustom Shop began by removing the tops of the doors. The back of the doorframe was marked at the 37⁄8-inch mark and cut along the bottom mark. The rest is left on the frame and will be trimmed to fit later.
4. Instead of lowering the roof as one, SKS is going to drop the quarter window section first and then bring the roof down to match it. The first step is cutting the corner out. A 37⁄8-inch corner section with a protruding leg was cut free. The B-pillar was then cut 37⁄8 inch at the center mark.
5. Next, a cut was made along the top of the doorjamb and roughly 2 inches into the skin.
6. In order to cut the quarter sections free a 10-inch incision was made along the driprail from the previous cut in image 5 and then at a 45-degree angle toward the center of the top. From there the incision was brought down alongside the rear window and then crossed back to the top of the cut along the C-pillar.