Long before he started banging out wicked street machines on a weekly basis in front of a national TV audience, Chip Foose was already a premiere superstar in the automotive industry. Although casual observers know him best as the mastermind designer on TLC's hit show Overhaulin', television stardom is the least of Chip's accomplishments. With winning Ridler and America's Most Beautiful Roadster awards becoming almost second nature to Chip, it's safe to say he's one of the most prolific hot rod designers and builders of all time.
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, Calif., Chip started working on cars with his dad-notable car builder Sam Foose-at the age of 7. Under his father's supervision, Chip learned the art of turning sheet-metal stock into finely contoured body panels, and painted his first car by age 12. Chip also picked up basic drawing skills from his dad, and he soon began designing the cars the shop would build. Recognizing his son's natural talent, Sam passed down to Chip the task of building scale models for former Tucker designer Alex Tremulis. Impressed by what he saw, Tremulis convinced Chip to attend the acclaimed Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. There, he studied automotive product design and graduated with honors in 1990.
While attending school, Chip worked for the Asha Corporation, designing and fabricating one-off prototypes for OEMs. His skills also caught the eye of legendary hot rod builder Boyd Coddington, and Chip began working for him on the side in 1990. After accepting an invitation to go to work for Ford, Boyd Coddington topped Ford's offer and brought Chip onboard full-time in 1993.
With the resources of a world-class hot rod shop at his disposal, the blinding glare of multitudes of spotlights was quickly cast in his direction. During his tenure, he was pivotal in the design of AMBR winners Boydster and Boydster II, and he eventually became the president of Hot Rods by Boyd. Through no fault of his, tough times loomed on the horizon when the company went bankrupt in 1998. Making the best of a bad situation, Chip opened the doors to Foose Design in Huntington Beach, Calif.
If Chip's work up to this point had merely added some sizzle to a hot rodding community that lacked panache, the next phase in his career was about to set the world ablaze. Although large financial backing didn't follow him to his new business venture, his stellar reputation did. That, in conjunction with his industry contacts, allowed him to get back in the game of designing the world's finest hot rods in no time. Wes Rydell, a North Dakota car dealership tycoon, commissioned Chip to build a '35 Chevy two-door sedan. After six tedious years in the making, the car won the coveted Ridler award in 2002. Chip returned the following year to design his second Ridler winner with a '34 Ford three-window coupe, and pulled off the hat trick in 2005 by penning another Ridler with a '36 Ford built for Ken Reister. Additionally, Chip has been involved with seven America's Most Beautiful Roadster winners.
Although most car designers can only dream of designing a Ridler or AMBR trophy winner, a case full of the industry's most prestigious awards represents just a small fraction of Chip's accomplishments. In 1997 at the age of 33, he became the youngest person ever inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame. The following year, Chip won the first-ever Goodguys Trendsetter award. In 2003, he was drafted into the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame, and he has earned for his clients seven Goodguys Street Rod of the Year awards.
Today, Chip's tedious schedule includes cranking out a street machine worthy of his name on Overhaulin' each week on top of building the crown jewels of the hot rodding world. Foose Design also specializes in illustrations, custom wheel design, graphics, ideation model making, and surfacing. However, his expertise extends far beyond just hot rods. Chip serves as an OEM consultant, is buddies with guys like Ford's J Mays, and is rumored to have influenced the design of the new Mustang in some undisclosed way. He has also partnered with Unique Performance to mass produce a line of custom '69 Camaros and late-model Mustangs with his signature design tweaks.
Despite his astounding success, Chip chooses to keep things simple by operating in a two-bay garage stretching a modest 5,000 square feet. His reasoning is that he likes to keep things manageable and actually develop close working relationships with his employees. With that thought in mind, we humbly salute one of the greatest automotive designers of all time.