Friday, February 17, 2012

Re-imagining the Past

Early-ish Chops of Early-ish Cars

2006 Chrysler 300 Sport Wagon—This was my creation of a "true" Chrysler 300 station wagon. I modified a Dodge Magnum body, adding more glass to the greenhouse and suicide doors. I gave it a classic 1955 Chrysler front end and slightly later MoPar "flashlight" taillights. I think all of these disparate parts really hung together well! I hope Virgil Exner, Sr, would approve!

1964 Thunderbird Squire—Taking one of my favorite Thunderbirds, the "Squarebird" of 1964-66, and making it into a classic 1960s Country Squire, was one of my more fun chops in the "early days." I first had to make it into a four-door, predating the actual 4-door T-bird by three years, and posted a sedan version online first. Then I went further adding the wagon bodystyle and then the "wood" paneling. I would love to see someone build this today for the car show circuit! The rear trunk on these 'Birds was low enough that the rear bumper/taillight assembly could be kept and a hatch added above it. Cutting the hatch into the roof, a la the Dodge Magnum, would be fine for ease of loading.

1980 Thunderbird—Moving forward a decade and a half, this is my idea of what a 1980-82 Thunderbird could have looked like, the so-called "Fairmont 'Bird." Instead of completely throwing out the mega-successful "Torino 'Bird's" styling, and Ford sold more than half a million of the '77-'79 T-birds, this smaller, lighter 'Bird would have taken that styling and proportioned it to fit the Fox platform. I really like the way this car came out.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Sport Coupe—I created a personal luxury coupe out of a regular Cadillac Series 62 coupe for this chop. I shortened the trunk, lowering the fins and moving them forward at the same time. I actually lengthened the hood a bit, perhaps for a revived V-12? I also opened up the rear wheelwells, giving the car more of a forward thrust. And of course, as with so many vintage cars before restoration, I had to duct tape some of the chrome trim on it. I also added the rust... I know exactly what that looks like from experience, lol.

1962 Plymouth Fury—Reimagining the great Virgil Exner isn't a task to be taken lightly. I like to think that in this chop I just removed the awkward production values forced upon him. Besides the new roofline, and a bit of trim removal, the most important thing I did in this chop was to restore the curved sideglass I know was on the prototypes, but changed at the last minute for cost reasons. By moving the bottom of the glass out flush to the bodysides like Mr. Exner originally wanted, the styling makes so much more sense. His early "fuselage" styling is revealed to be the genius it really was. My sloping roofline makes his emphasis on the individual fender shapes and long hood, classic-era touches, really stand out, too.

B O N U S   C H O P :

2008 Toyota Cressida—Not a vintage car, but one that stood out in my Photobucket account while I found the above chops, this is my take on an updated Toyota Cressida. The Cressida was a rear wheel drive "luxury" Toyota back in the 1980s. I began with the current front wheel drive Avalon, but gave it more classic rwd proportions and smoothed it out, removing much of Toyota's current lumpy-and-bumpy styling ethos. I say this a lot, lol, but I really like the way this large Toyota came out. I wish it was available at a dealer, today!


  1. I really enjoy when you chop the "classics" and give it your own touch.The 300 looks like a real gem of a car that modern manufacturing couldn't replicate.

  2. I love your obsession with making all things station wagons and with wood grain! The T-Bird Squire is the prime example. The only word I can think of is "brilliant." What makes it such is that the execution of the chop makes it believable. Of course the other chops are great as well, really digging the "Cressida" as well.

  3. Thanks, guys. It really has been a fun hobby all these years now.

  4. That Imperial/300 grill looks so right on the station wagon chop -- that's doing retro the right way! I'm loving the Cressida too. Looks so much nicer than any current Toyota product -- or any Toyota product ever! The 62 Plymouth is terrific too -- if only they hadn't made that tragic mistake with the Dodge and Plymouth in 62. 20/20 hindsight is great, isn't it!!

    Paul, NYC

  5. Thanks, Paul. That 300 wagon was a chop I started off as a joke, and when I saw how well it was working I went with it. I really don't like those recreated Corvettes or Bel Airs where they try to stick a vintage clip on a modern car, but this Chrysler front end just worked!

  6. Casey; My blog is Curbside Classic, and we have a lively commenting community (over 50k). One of our occasional features is "What If":
    where we use photchops to feed our imaginations and speculations. I just stumbled onto your site, and you have lots of superb chops. Would you consider letting us use one once in a while? Of course, we'd point out the source, and link it back to you.

    Best to respond to

    Thanks, Paul Niedermeyer

  7. So how do you like the 2013 Avalon fastback?

  8. I like it. I'm not in love with it, but it's not bad! I really didn't think they'd go "fastback' with the Avalon. thanks for stopping by!