Tag Archives: chopped
By Jim Aust/Hollywood Hot Rods
Every since the first sleek new 1949 Mercury hit the street crafty restylers have lusted after examples with the roof a bit lower than the factory offerings. Sam Barris was among the first to chop his own personal Mercury, and the process would be repeated thousands of times over the next seven decades. Just as the word “custom” implies, personally designed customs each have a unique style and equally unique method of creation.
The guys at Hollywood Hot Rods have built a series of much loved custom vehicles so it’s only natural that they would have chopped a few Mercury’s along the way. Refining the process to a science, Hollywood Hot Rods get the job done lowering a lid on a Mercury (or any vehicle) with the help of various tools from The Eastwood Company. For this demonstration an Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to get a few of the vital steps in the process completed. Follow along as Hollywood Hot Rods shows how they lowered a roof on this 1951 Mercury.
Chopping the top on a Mercury is so popular at Hollywood Hot Rods that they have to wait in line for their turn under the knife.
The easy part is removing the top, the tough part is putting it back on correctly.
After lowering the roof the desired amount, the corners of the windows now require reworking to close up the gaps created in the process.
This view shows the great deal of work that will be necessary to reshape the rear corners of the quarter windows.
The first step is to trim out the rear corners so that new corners can be fitted in place.
To fill the corners small strips of sheet metal are cut and folded 90-degees in a sheet metal brake.
Next up the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to shrink one edge of the custom new pieces to replicate the look of the factory corners in the newly required radiuses.
The newly fabricated pieces are carefully fit into in the trimmed out window corners.
The new window corners are tacked in place and checked again for proper placement before final welding is completed.
Once the final welding is finished the corners are shaped with a die grinder equipped with a barrel drum sanding head.
On this particular chop the decision was made to round-off the upper rear door corners rather than retain the square factory style corners.
Rather than cut the original door corners into multiple pieces, Hollywood Hot Rods prefers to create new sweeping corner from fresh sheet metal.
Repeating the earlier process, new inner door corners are made with the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher. Once the new door corners are in place they are welded and smoothed the same way as the window corners.
Just a few steps transformed this Mercury from a stocker to show stopper! Hit the Hollywood Hot Rods Website to see more of their work, enlist their services, or buy some sweet HHR gear!
It's no secret that the west coast, specifically southern California or "SoCal" has been the hotbed for Hot Rodding. Many of the legendary customizers, race drivers, companies, and magazines called SoCal their home. By far the biggest magazine in the world of hot rodding is the one and only Hot Rod Magazine. They've been around since day one, and even through all of the ups and downs of the automotive world, they're still around, and as strong as ever. This year marked the 65th anniversary since their inception. In celebration, the crew at Hot Rod Magazine invited the entire hot rodding community to come join them at the Pomona Fairgrounds for a "Homecoming". We were already planning a trip to visit them and some of their sister magazines that week, so we stayed the weekend to catch the show and set up a small booth with our friends at Hollywood Hot Rods.
This wasn't going to be just any car show, the Hot Rod crew dug deep into their little black book and were able to dig out some REALLY important cover and feature cars from the past 65 years. Everyone in attendance were amazed at what crawled out of the woodwork, and we're not just talking cars! Anyone with a keen eye could spot some legends of hot rodding walking there amongst us mortals.
Saturday we spent the day breezing through the show and taking pictures of some of the cars that immediately caught our eye. We were so overwhelmed that sunday felt like an entirely different show once we dug in and took in all of the cars in attendance. The show also had some really nice "non-feature" cars that were just hitting the public for the first time. We gotta say that the quality of cars in the show were top notch by any standards. You really had to search every corner of the fairplex show grounds to see some of these cars. Check out our gallery below to see some of our favorites from Saturday. We're still digging through pictures and hopefully this week we can have the next batch up!
Thanks to all that welcomed us East-Coasters into SoCal, showed us around, chatted with us, or stopped by our booth. We hope we can do it again!
Time and money seem to always be the deciding factor in how long a project takes to complete. After preparing Pile House for a chop my time ran thin and it took longer for me to get to cutting the roof than I'd like; but I'm sure everyone can relate when life gets in the way of a project!
For removing the roof I used a reciprocating saw and an Angle Grinder with a cutting wheel, but there are a number of different tools you could use. It all really depends on the vehicle you're chopping. I've seen others use a Body Saw, Electric or Pneumatic Metal Shears, portable bandsaws, hacksaws, Plasma Cutters, and even an oxy-acytelene torch! No matter what your method, you need to make sure you make controlled, precise cuts. I use the reciprocating saw to cut areas like the tops of the doors, the A-pillars, and the door jams where the metal is boxed. The long cuts through the sheet metal were done with the angle grinder.
With the roof cut off, we set it on the ground and cut 3" out of the rear of the cab and enough out of the front pillars to get the roof sitting at an angle I liked. From there I began slowly welding the back of the roof on. The backside needs to stay in the same position as stock (unlike a car where most of the modifications occur towards the back of the roof). I'm choosing to use the Eastwood TIG 200 on low amperage to make the welds. When the welder settings are dialed in correctly and using small .030 filler wire, I can keep the heat-effected zone low, and hammer the welds flat with the Hammer and Dolly Set. In some places there will be no grinding (nearly impossible with a MIG!) necessary. This project requires me to be crawling around the bed and cab making short stitch welds on the roof. There isn't a good spot to position the TIG 200 foot pedal during this process, so I switched the controls to the finger switch on the torch. This makes out-of-position welding much easier. The more comfortable you are when welding, the better your welds will be.
Now with the roof back in place, it's pretty obvious that I'll need to split the roof in half to move the front portion to match the A-pillars and add a filler panel to the gap. On classic trucks I like the factory rake of the pillars, where-as on coupes and sedans of the same era angled pillars can really help make the car look like it's going fast when sitting still. Once I get more spare time and an extra set of hands, I'll start cutting the roof again and get everything sitting where I want it to, then more welding and hammering can occur. Stay tuned, I'm just getting started!