Perfection is the name of the game in Foose's shop; every car has many levels of detail th
Chip Foose hates trends. For the most part, he avoids anything with a trendy flair like the plague. Despite that, it's really impossible to compile a list of trendsetting builders without acknowledging the impact he and his gang of metal beaters have exerted on the hobby from their headquarters in Huntington Beach, California.
"Never look at the trends or try to start a trend," Chip says. "If you do, your stuff will look old in two years. Just create good design." The key to the philosophy can be summed up as "no why'' design. "I never want someone to look at a finished project and be able to ask, 'Why did they do that?' Only, 'Why does this car look so much better than I remember?' " Chip says.
That philosophy is part of the driving force behind a trend Chip predicts may be on the way: freshening and reinventing older builds. You know those cars, the ones built at the height of a short-lived fad or style that didn't age well, or just happen to have too many of those "why" design choices. As those cars change hands at potentially bargain prices, the new owners will likely seek to make the car more their own and opt for a bit of a face-lift without major surgery. Little changes can reinvent a car. A good example is in Chip's shop right now, an already sultry Caddy built in Boyd Coddington's shop was brought in by its new owner for a redesign of the roofline and interior and a new set of one-off wheels to bring the styling more to his preference.
Foose is never too busy to talk about hot rods with fans, despite his hectic schedule.
Chip also told us his customers appear to be more willing to explore atypical cars or combinations and create mash ups of generations and styles. Think of them as "what if" cars. Several months ago a couple came to Chip wanting to build a '65 Impala like the one they took on their honeymoon. Since they wanted this version to be a reliable driver with a modern drivetrain capable of long trips, they were open to reinterpretation.
Chip took the opportunity to sketch out an idea he'd been rolling around his head for a few years; what if the Corvette design studio in the mid-'60s had turned their attention to a fullsize hardtop? The '65 Impala is a good-looking car, no doubt, but its barge-like proportions would never have been acceptable. So for this concept car Foose decided to scale it down to somewhere between Camaro and Chevelle size by taking 14 inches out of the quarters. The roof was then shortened 8 inches, dropped a half inch, and the windshield was laid back 2 inches to compensate and create a much more aggressive roofline. But it's what's under all that sheetmetal modification that is a real revolution. The styling will be period inspired, but between the rockers will be the unmodified rolling chassis and drivetrain from an '08 Corvette. Not a single wire or connection was cut during disassembly of the donor car, so every function from the dash cluster to the power windows and seats, right down to OnStar will work like a new Corvette. Not to mention that it could be serviced by any GM dealer by plugging into the OBD jack.
It's not the first vintage body laid over a modern chassis, but it might be the most complete assimilation. Could this be the ultimate evolution of a Pro Touring car? If vintage style joined with modern luxury, performance, reliability, and serviceability are the goal, it's hard to argue against the idea.
It almost looks like a camera trick or odd angle, but this '65 Impala really is 14 inches
They're worlds apart, but when Chip is popping the hood on the Impala it will reveal an LS