Photography by ©2016 Toni Avery
Most of us that see cars on the road never think twice about how they started their lives. Before assembly and rigorous testing, there are incredibly talented people that make the eventual finished product come to life on paper. Without these artists putting pen, or pencil, to paper and creating deigns, some car would never come into being.
One of the best-known artists in the industry has become a household name. He doesn’t create cars that you’ll see on every street corner or that will be mass-produced, rather he creates one-of-a-kind designs. Chip Foose is known for creating some of the most beautiful custom Hot Rods and Muscle Cars you’ll ever see.
A meeting early on in his career with Alex Tremulis, the designer of the Tucker, inspired Chip to attend Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. After graduating Art Center with a major in Automotive Product Design with honors, Chip’s career took off, and even before that he was doing very well in the industry with a large following and client base that only grew with time. Possibly best known for his wildly successful TV show Overhaulin’ on Velocity, Chip restores and customizes cars for deserving clients and their families who turn to Chip for help.
Now, he doesn’t just customize a few pieces of chrome or bodywork or parts of the interior, Chip and his team take a nice blank slate and turn it into something completely unique. What I love most about his designs is his ability to take the original car and make vast improvements and custom touches, creating a clean and modern look while still maintaining the cars vintage charm.
MPG (Motor Press Guild) held a very special behind the scenes look at the Foose Design shop and some of his current projects. Below are photos from the shop and cars Chip is currently working on in addition to a few he owns.
1965 Chevy Impala
This 1965 Chevy Impala won the 2015 Ridler Award. The Impala’s owners came to Chip looking for a more modern driving car but also thought it would look even better a good deal shorter. They came to the right guy because this now 14-inch shorter Impala, also dubbed The Imposter, is just stunning. A more modern ride they got with the car sitting on a 2009 Corvette chassis, which needed to be stretched 8-inches to fit the shorted Impala wheelbase. The result is a comfortable GT car with all the modern conveniences you could want, including OnStar, while still maintaining that classic Impala appeal.
The Hemisfear is car Chip designed while still at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Chrysler had come to Chip and other designers wanting a niche market vehicle, but what Chip did was catered to a nice market. He came up with the brilliant idea to blend the Muscle Car, Hot Rod and Super Car market into one vehicle. The shell is completely carbon fiber and it’s powered by a 426 Hemi producing 500 HP mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
The P-32 is a Foose creation inspired by old WWII fighter planes. This is his take on what a pilot after WWII would have built for himself. This P-32 is powered by a flathead Lincoln V-12. The interior even features seats from an actual B-17.
When the Ford GT launched in 2005, Chip lusted for the Blue Oval Supercar. While his wife didn’t agree to the purchasing one when new, she later acquired this slightly used GT as a surprise for Chip’s 50th birthday. And of course, since then he’s applied some of his famous custom touches to make it his own.
The Madam X
The Madam X is currently being built for Wes and Vivian Rydell. This sheet-metal classic is Chip’s re-imagined design from the first drawn by Art Ross in 1935 as a concept drawing for the 1937 Cadillac Sixty Special. While this Madam X may look to be far from done, according to Chip, he’s only got about one and a half months till completion and delivery.
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask Chip a question. I wanted to know what car he didn’t have but still very much wanted. Chip’s answer was a Duesenberg. Of course he doesn’t just want to leave it as is, rather he’d like to add his own custom touches and make it a one-of-a-kind Foose Duesenberg.