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Hot Rods Chopped tops . . . . .

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Pete Eastwood, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. Pete Eastwood
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 993

    Pete Eastwood
    from california

    I'm curious where this " if some is good more is better " take on top chopping comes from.
    I see so many top chops that are over done & the proportions of the car are not good.
    Also, & take this from a guy that has gone a lot of miles in a hot rod, once you drive a chopped car, you'll appreciate a mild / subtle chop, & the car can still look bad ass.
    It seems to me, that over chopping a car renders it, practically useless.

    Thoughts ?
  2. Never2low
    Joined: Jan 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,136


    When people don't know what they're doing, they tend to just do more, to compensate.
  3. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,884


    I judge all chops of five window Coupes by the look of the quarter windows, the subtle ones look the best to me. Looked all around at the GNRS and couldn't find you, hope the RAJO is moving along. Bob
  4. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,898


    At this point in time I think that there is a segment of the hot rod family that's primarily interested in their car looking wicked or "badass". The "I don't care how uncomfortable or illegal it is, look at me, I'm tough enough to deal with it" mentality. Some do look wicked and mean and pull it off nicely but others just look silly - too much chop or too much wedge.
    I chopped my '32 5w 4" and filled the roof, it took some time to get the seat position that didn't leave me with a stiff neck after a day of driving. I then bought a '33 3w body that had a severe Bonneville chop just 'cause it looked sooo mean. As I progressed with the build I soon realized it wasn't gonna be legal for the street (7" rule at the time) or comfortable so I sent it on down the road (it ended up back at B-ville as a racer). Probably makes me a light-weight but such is life. Sometimes less IS more, but then we all have varying tastes.
    504640, LTM75110, drdave and 7 others like this.

  5. Xman
    Joined: Nov 17, 2011
    Posts: 439


    Opinions are like ass holes, everyones got one!
    birdog, level2526, Gr8laker and 3 others like this.
  6. cretin
    Joined: Oct 10, 2006
    Posts: 2,911


    I've wondered the same. Best I can figure is ego. "you chopped your car 5 inches? well I chopped mine 7 inches!"
    A pissing contest.
    Keep it in proportion.
    Pinstriper40, mohead1, 504640 and 6 others like this.
  7. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 28,545


    At 4 inches my truck sometimes feels like it is chopped a bit too much when I'm gong stop light to stop light in town and have to strain to see the lights. Personally I don't want any rig that is chopped so hard that I can't drive with my arm on the window sill or from some I've seen lately chopped so hard you can't stick your arm out the window at all.
    One of my best buds uses the term "Radical" quite a it and more often or not if he says the car is radical it means that it is chopped far too much or there are five other reasons I won't like it. We have gone that round over what looks right with a chop a lot of times in the past 39 years.
    Hnstray likes this.
  8. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,935

    from Tampa, FL

    Would you happen to have a couple of pix to illustrate this, one bad, one good? I'd sure appreciate seeing the subtle differences. Thanx, Gary
  9. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 20,480

    Staff Member

    body modifications are typically supposed to make cars look better, It doesn't always seem to work out that way. People get caught up in the old "more is better" or " I can outdo that guy" routine. Once proportion is lost it is all over. Excellent subject.....
  10. flamedabone
    Joined: Aug 3, 2001
    Posts: 4,899


    I took 4" out of my 5 window. Some say it is too much, but they can kiss my ass.


  11. The37Kid
    Joined: Apr 30, 2004
    Posts: 27,884


    upload_2017-2-8_8-44-42.png That's about it for the 33-34 Five Window. Bob
  12. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,202

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    I chopped 4" out of my 5/w also. Much more on a 5/w and you begin to flatten and egg shape the quarter windows and lose the proportions of the car-especially full fendered. Better to use some restraint.
    You can go more on 3/w's and angle chop more on 3/w's than 5/w's, w/o totally losing proportion, especially on a channeled hiboy (Bonneville) style build.
    Lately, the trend seems to be to severely angle chop the 5/w coupes, which again works on a 3/w but becomes way over proportoned real quick on a 5/w if you angle chop it more than about an inch.
    It does seem to be a pissing contest of sorts where some take it too far. They'll always be a guy with an 18" lift on his truck with 44's or someone with an essentially non streetable high horse engine. In the early 60's, Customs became a victim of themselves, where builders started to over customize cars with garish scoops and other nonsense. Wider tires became Pro Street and that got old and caved in on itself. Rat Rods out shock valued themselves to death.
    We're all "fashion slaves" when it comes to trading comfort and drive ability for looks in our modified cars. You just have to know when to say when.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  13. trailer.jpg It seems like a waste of time to chop a car only a slight bit, so the vast majority of folks overdo it. The cars end up cramped and not much fun to drive. We chopped our 53 wagon a little over an inch and a half. That was all it took , and the car stayed in nice proportion and is still comfortable.
    I've had it with trying to fold up like a taco to fit in a car!
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  14. hotrodderhaag
    Joined: Jan 22, 2007
    Posts: 2,123



    Here is my 32 in the process of being chopped. I agree that some over do it. I see windshields that are not proportional to the side windows , or they chop the hell out of it and leave a huge back window ... we knocked 6" out of mine . Despite what most people say , sitting In my car , with a properly set seat. You can in fact see. I put thousands of miles on my model A coupe with a stock roof and a stock seat .. i find my self constantly leaning forward to see driving down the road . However with a huge windshield like that , I can see my cowl , my engine . Grill, everything . I noticed with such a heavy chop on my 32, height wise I can see just as much as my model A... however I can't see the cowl , hood..etc... it's just a lower view that still gives me the same end result . I think if it's done right . A Heavy chop not only looks good . But is functional as well

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  15. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,075

    scrap metal 48

    I like heavy chops.. Nothing worse than finish a chop and then say, "I wish I went more"....
  16. Heavy chops are cool for the "Wow" factor although some are a real pain to see out of when driving. But there is a lot to be said for a very subtle chop, too. When you walk by the car you say to yourself, "Did he or didn't he? And if so, how much?"

    Some states regulate this by a minimum windshield height law.
    504640, bchctybob and Ron Funkhouser like this.
  17. williebill
    Joined: Mar 1, 2004
    Posts: 2,706


    All good points. except I LIKE pissing contests. I'll give up a lot of practical if mothers hide their children under their skirts when my car drives by..... assuming I ever finish it, that is.
  18. A Boner
    Joined: Dec 25, 2004
    Posts: 5,894

    A Boner

    What I can't understand is why guys chop the top on a completely roached out body. I think it would be better to cherry out the body first, then if you still have the time and ambition, chop it. And like you say....keep it in proportion. Install the seat first and block out the top of the windshield with tape and that will help you determine how many inches will be enough of a chop, and not an annoying amount.
    504640, fleet-master, Dino 64 and 3 others like this.
  19. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 26,147

    Jalopy Joker

    always get a good/sad laugh when I see an ad for a chopped car that has no roof - did not intend to build convert but, could not figure how to put roof back together with glass - always better to go slowly rather than radical at first and try to add metal - individuals will do what they will -
  20. hotrodderhaag
    Joined: Jan 22, 2007
    Posts: 2,123


    My poor 49 shoebox some dude hacked the roof off and never finished it. He should have taken baby steps . He made some really bad cuts. I saved it from the shredder. I'll fix it eventually . I have gathered everything to finish the car . Just that 1 thing you can't buy .... time ......[​IMG]

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    kidcampbell71, 504640, RICH B and 3 others like this.
  21. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,942

    Corn Fed

    It all depends on the car and build. To me, a 32 can handle a heavy chop better than a 34. But there does come a point where its ridiculous. Im actually getting to the point where a stoçk height 32 catches my eye more than a cut one.
    Kevs56 likes this.
  22. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,482

    Atwater Mike

    That old California "7 inch law"... I got stopped in '58 for a 'limited visibility' citation. My '36 three window was excessively chopped, (I had made a cut/fit error on the windshield; 4-1/2" went to 5-1/4", then the 'Barris rule': "Always cut more in back!" O.K., 6" in back...
    The rear window looked like @hotrodderhagg's '32, I thought it was beautiful. The cop sounded like my Mom... "Why'd you lower the top so much?" Me: "So everybody could tell it was chopped!"

    The cop said something about a "7 inch windshield"...I said "That's NOT California law, it's an SCTA ruling." (I was a devout reader, and recalled the Pierson Bros. '34 Coupe, and Bobby Meeks cleverly slanting the windshield to make the 'inch rule'!)

    Police officer couldn't find any "inch law" regarding windshields, even called it in. Only thing he found was headlamp height, no lower than 24", nor higher than 54". This was 1958, Santa Clara, CA.
    BTW, @petee hit it on the head, driving that thing was akin to piloting a Sherman tank...Lots of looks, but horrible to drive. Looked like a nice low '36 with a bubble turret.
    Sorry, Mom. You were right...:eek::p
    kidcampbell71, birdog, Jet96 and 2 others like this.
  23. Just my opinion, I think the amount of chop, or not to chop is all up to you. There is no wrong amount, as long as you like it. Everyone will have a different idea. So don't try to please anyone but yourself. I'm one of those that loves radical chops. Remember { Big Al } the 34 with the Allison mill, and the driver's head stuck out the roof? I'm building a 27 T Drag coupe. I chopped it 14 inches. My head will be through the roof too. That is unless I can find one of those driver-less parts cars in a junkyard. I'm so slow, that might just happen. ha. ha. Ron... 1681.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  24. Luckily (?) I'm 6'4" an wear at least an Extra Medium sized belt- so I'm not likely to get too frisky with the measuring stick.
    Although, the funny thing is that my shortest car comes up to my elbow when standing next to it- I've got plenty of headspace (can wear a hat while driving). Definitely agree that playing with the seating etc. can make things work better than first glance would lead to believe.

    So, didn't really say much worthwhile did I? I don't care. I just wanted to be included in Mr. Eastwood's discussion. Thanks

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    geoscot49, Jet96, 35PU and 2 others like this.
  25. xpletiv
    Joined: Jul 9, 2008
    Posts: 938

    from chiburbs

    Question: if you can't see the hood, doesn't that mean your view of what is directly Infront of you is limited?
    As if you are looking slightly upwards.

    Sent from my Z958 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Gr8laker likes this.
  26. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    Why? This might no be the popular answer, but: Mini Truckers. So many guys today got here through the VW and mini truck stuff, where the "More" and the "Most" got the most attention. It seems especially true with the custom guys of today.
  27. bchctybob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2011
    Posts: 2,898


    Where I lived (LAX area) I was stopped quite often. The same old routine, "that windshield legal height?" "Gonna have to write you for those tires" (M&Hs) "Where's your front plate?" "This thing is awful loud" Never thought to carry a California Vehicle Code book with me 'til I stripped off the fenders. They used to measure my windshield with a piece of cardboard - mine always passed. We had several local cops who would write you for everything every time.
    Just before I moved outa SoCal there seemed to be a rise in the number of "cartoon chops" - cars chopped so much the windows were useless and they looked out of the top. I thought, "too bad, they just trashed a good old Ford body" Flamedabone and Hotrodstohell did good - they look mean and nasty but keep the character. Nice.
  28. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 16,575


    I remembers way back when Dad cut the top of his '33 tudor. He chopped it 3-3/4" in the early 70's, and that was quite a thing at that time. Lots of resto style rods around then, and the Pete & Jakes R&C cover hadn't spread to everyone yet. There were many more unchopped cars than chopped ones. I can still picture guys checking it out at local rod runs and talking about the chop job.

    The following decade is when chopping tops really caught hold here in the Midwest. But most of them still had "reason" and stayed under 4". It was very rare to see anything cut more than 4", even a Model A or T. Guys had restraint.

    In the 90's Dad bought a hand-me-down '32 five window body that was passed around our state and robbed of parts for decades. It was a hot rod from way back, and was chopped and channelled. A lot. We measured it out to be about 5-1/2" worth of chop. And something like that was never seen before in these parts, just the magazine coverage of Bonneville. He is bringing it back up on top of the frame, but the big chop is staying.

    Ardun Coupe at Dammans.jpg

    Nowadays though, that 5-1/2" is nothing. Guys are trying to outdo each other with each Brookville body assembled. Some look nice and have style, but some look like they were just going for the record (lowest chop, not fastest time).

    Me, I drive a stock-height tudor with enough room for a top hat, so what do I know? o_O
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2017
  29. bscc50
    Joined: Nov 17, 2013
    Posts: 100

    from n.e.

    same place "laying frame" came from. if low is cool than touching the ground must be cooler. i love a chopped top but once you lose proportions than you lost me.
    26hotrod, LTM75110, Hnstray and 2 others like this.
  30. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 14,627

    from oregon

    Love a good chop.
    Two things I don't love though.
    Too much forward taper (usually on a 3W).
    Chopped tri-5 Chevys in any form, in my eyes it's not a visual improvement.
    clem, birdog, RICH B and 3 others like this.

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