View Full Version : to chop or not to chop, that is the question

10-04-2009, 08:48 PM
Since my project 51 starlight willNOT be done this season. I am thinking about a 2 in chop. I want to keep the rear and side glass intact and only lower the front. I know, I know, the purists will think this is blasphemous buttttt what the heck.
Anybody out there who can give CONSTUCTIVE ADVICE.

10-04-2009, 08:53 PM
Big job... Have you chopped a top before? Got a buddy with experience?
Go slow and careful, mistakes will be tough to fix...

A. Charles Eck, Jr.
Essex, MD
Studebakers were made to drive! (Besides, they don't get lost as easy in the Wal-Mart parking lot!)

'64 Cruiser 'Louise'
'57 Commander 4 door sedan 'Bluebird'
'66 Ford F-250
'53 John Deere 50
'41 John Deere H All-Fuel
'41 John Deere B All-Fuel

10-04-2009, 09:13 PM
I agree with mausersmth, chopping a top is not a trivial project. A good friend of mine will chop anything that won't move quick enough to escape.

He has done 51 packards, 53 chevys and a bunch of trucks. He has an excellent eye to concieve the chop and the talent to pull if off.

I've watched him enough to appreciate the difficulty.

With that in mind, I'm looking at the profile of a 51 starlite and trying to figure how to do an appropriate chop without involving at least the side glass.

The 53/54 C/K's look great with a 1.5 to 2 in chop in front as they are a bit tall there and have the length to make it look appropriate.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it but if you plan to do it, Have someone photoshop it for you and talk the procedure over a knowledgeable expert that has done a few chops.

If you decide to go ahead, please keep us informed.

Also, go to the H.A.M.B. website and search chops, they do a ton of them and a lot of the members are pro and know their s--t. www.jalopyjournal.com

Good luck


http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh263/sweetolbob/P1000416.jpg?t=1227109182, http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh263/sweetolbob/031-1.jpg?t=1254424814

10-04-2009, 09:17 PM
It won't bother me if you chop it...but consider this...even at its stock configuration, most post war Studebaker coupes are already radical departures from their contemporaries. The first time I sat in a Studebaker, it already felt chopped compared to same era Pontiac's, Chevy, and fords. Even with the Starlite greenhouse, it is already cool! If your intent is to increase the "Wow" factor...anybody under 40 probably won't even know the difference unless it is parked beside a stock one of the same year. I think your "Bang for the Buck" would be better served in concentrating on quality paint and other aesthetic effects. In addition, in case you incur a future accident like a cracked windshield or crushed door, repairing it wouldn't take a second mortgage to cover the repair costs.

John Clary
Greer, SC
Life... is what happens as you are making plans.
SDC member since 1975

10-04-2009, 09:48 PM
If you will go the route of the glass being cut also, I would get some pricing on that first. Ive seen alot cars and truck with the tops chopoed and the job stalls and then they loose interest becuase of the cost of the glass works.

10-04-2009, 09:54 PM
Unless you put a bend in the roof, I don't see how you can chop the top 2" without chopping the glass, especially on the sides. I don't think you can chop the front without it looking off.

Tom - Mulberry, FL

1964 Studebaker Daytona - 289 4V, 4-Speed (Cost To Date: $2125.60)

1964 Studebaker Commander 170-1V, 3-speed w/OD (Cost to Date: $623.67)

http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i280/Swifster/The%20Daytona%20File/Avatar%20Size/01-01-05TheStartingPoint.jpg http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i280/Swifster/The%20Daytona%20File/Avatar%20Size/07-17-07FrontClipRemoved.jpg http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i280/Swifster/The%20Daytona%20File/Avatar%20Size/08-06-29.jpg

10-04-2009, 10:28 PM
Take the sideview line-drawing from the Body Parts catalog on page XI. Copy off a whole bunch. Enlarge them. Now take scissors and try to cut out what you're thinking about. I could see lowering the top of the door glass level and the winshield level to match the top horizontal line of the rear wrap around windows. But you're talking major, ugly surgery of the roof. Not to mention leaning the windshield posts back, matching the door frames to that, etc. Remember, anything with a "turret-top," which is about any vehicle after the 30's, you're taking a slice (section) out of a sphere and then trying to get the remaining top and bottom to meet. Ford Model T's and A's were easy. Phone booths--straight posts. Not so with later cars.
This may not be constructive advice--just a warning after seeing too many incomplete projects that will probably never be completed sit and rot away with no buyers willing to take on someone else's problems.

(read it backwards)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/2617723594_889afb71cf_t.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2412/2267352617_720245049a_m.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3286/2679715309_9655c80e5e_m.jpg

Nothing is politically right which is morally wrong. -A. Lincoln

10-04-2009, 10:41 PM
I'd be curious on how the car would look. A drawing of your idea would be interesting to see.

Gary Sanders
Nixa, MO
President Toy Studebaker Collectors Club. Have an interest in Toy Studebakers? Contact me for details.

fred k.
10-04-2009, 10:53 PM
you can not chop the rear window, you will need to lean it or sink it into the trunk like the pharo's merc on american graffiti, or you can graft another window from a doner car of youre choice, but if you do chop the opening plan on spending around 5,000.+ or - on a one off glass those are the options, I personaly lean the window section and dont forget about the garnish moldings, Athough the windshield can be chopped pritty easly by eather sand blasitng or a experanced glass guy but you may break a few so keep that in mind.


10-04-2009, 11:32 PM
Chopping a top is a VERY brave endeavor. Look at a lot of pics of chopped cars like yours. Remember: this is surgery. Very precise surgery. It took everything I had to lengthen my 49 truck cab, so my advice is to get the rest of your car done first, then if you have the energy left over to do the chop, go ahead and tear into it. You might consider just changing the skin of the roof to make it flatter. My Gt has a bulbous roof that I would like to cure. I'd also like to bring the back window up about six inches, shortening the greenhouse.

fred k.
10-04-2009, 11:56 PM
Flatting the roof is also a good idea, I have choped many tops over the years it not only takes good craftsmanship skills but also a good eye and design sence I have seen some porly excuited job over the years, and exspeshly chopping a round roof without the 2 elements I mentioned can leave the top looking very bulbus on top and flat at the rear window therefore I have even choped plus flaten the top to get the correct look, EASY RIGHT, HA ! HA ! But searsly alot of work went into the existing design and the same amount will need to go into any mods ldealy the mod will flow with out distracting from the design and only few will notice hope this was helpful and did not scare you but helped you to do a nice jod so as I donot have to see another classic destroyed .


10-05-2009, 12:59 PM
This topic comes up from time to time. While a chopped top on a rod CAN give it a racy look, I have never seen a chopped 47-52 Starlight coupe that looked better chopped. Because of the shape of the whole car one with a chopped top looks too thick through the body. MAYBE if you only take 2" it will look okay, but expect little return for your labors.

1952 Champion Starlight w/overdrive. Searcy, Arkansas
"I may be lazy, but I'm not shiftless."

10-05-2009, 01:10 PM
I have to agree with 52 fan, and as you all know, I have impeccable taste.

10-05-2009, 01:56 PM
My constructive advice is to get it mechanically finished and all the bodywork done and in primer....
Drive it a while and work the bugs out.
Take a Magic-Marker and a straight edge and draw all your proposed chop lines on the primer.
Take it to a couple of cruise nights.
Take it to a couple of Stude events.
Then make your decision.

quote:Originally posted by nickaboni2

Since my project 51 starlight willNOT be done this season. I am thinking about a 2 in chop. I want to keep the rear and side glass intact and only lower the front. I know, I know, the purists will think this is blasphemous buttttt what the heck.
Anybody out there who can give CONSTUCTIVE ADVICE.



dean pearson
10-05-2009, 02:23 PM
When I first got my 52 Commander I listened to all my friends opinions and had I acted on them my car would have ended up with a chopped top and widened rear fenders, I'm not by any means a purist but for me and my car I want it to look all stock on the outside. As far as the chop, the price of it scared me off. A guy down the road from me that does customs quoted me 10K for the chop complete including the glass work.
Dean Pearson.

10-05-2009, 02:42 PM
Heck, I'd do it for nine...

10-05-2009, 04:00 PM

10-05-2009, 04:10 PM
quote:Originally posted by nickaboni2


WHEW!...exhaled the little Studebaker as she shook little drops of condensate from her chrome brow.[:I]:)

John Clary
Greer, SC
Life... is what happens as you are making plans.
SDC member since 1975

10-05-2009, 04:34 PM
The stock glass "can" be cut down to fit. Now will it take maybe 3 or 4 tries?....it could. I have seen many stock windshields cut down, but you have to find the right glass guy, and if he breaks it trying to cut it....its on YOU. We (as a shop) have chopped a 53 Studebaker. Although the car is being made into a salt flat car....it can be done.

10-05-2009, 05:08 PM
But can the tempered rear glass be ground down to fit a smaller opening?

10-05-2009, 05:54 PM
It can be cut, you have to find a very good glass guy that is willing to do it. Like i said though, it usually doesnt work the first time. So as long as you have access to 3 or 4 rear windows that you are willing to part with it is do-able.

10-05-2009, 09:42 PM
I had no idea the chop would be that expensive. I would not consider chopping my 54 Coupe. (below). I like the angle of the top to the body. In fact, I like the Coupe more mainly cuz the door frame shrinks the glass surface between the body and the top. The Hardtop glass is taller and therefore for some, begs to be chopped. I had a chance several years ago to buy a 50 Starlight Cpe which had been chopped and had the rear fenders widened slightly. It looked fabulous. I could have had it for a song cuz the owner had stripped the brand X engine/trans out of it. Oh, I wish I woulda.


fred k.
10-05-2009, 10:41 PM
good luck with choping that rear tempered glass.


10-05-2009, 10:54 PM
I thought cutting or grinding tempered glass was impossible.

Steve T
10-05-2009, 11:07 PM

I think that's it! I've been trying to figure out just why it is that I prefer 53-54 Starlights over Starliners...your comment about the height of the door/quarter glass has switched a light on.

Course I'd be quite content with either one...or one of each. :D


10-05-2009, 11:25 PM
Two words: Dont Chop!

Chris Dresbach

fred k.
10-05-2009, 11:48 PM
2 more, I agree!


10-06-2009, 11:22 AM
Guess I missed this one yesterday. [:0]

I don't have a picture of said car or one like it, to give an imput (input?) on the finished looks.
(do you have a direct from the side picture shot?)
Here's one EXTREME pic I show time to time, as you can tell Reality doesn't alway's mimic Fantasy, sometimes it looks better/worse

These jobs (as you've heard from the posts) are not easy, you mentioned you wanted to leave your side glass intact. Any chop, no matter how slight will change how every window fits, it's not as simple as.......take out an inch and then just roll up the window one inch less.
Maybe, maybe depending on style of car you could get away with it on a rear passenger window, but it's shoddy IMHO

I feel the cost estimates expressed here are in line if you were to have someone else do it.

Think it over in your down time this winter season, Chops are not a spur of the moment change like an engine swap, or new interior, or new set of wheels.
You could alway's finish the car to a driver condition, leave the interior barren, leave the paint in primer (suede) for awhile, drive around for a while and decide if a lowered roof line is still needed to complete your vision.

If the chop was just a fleeting thought........you'll still have a grin ear to ear as you drive the car.....as it sits.

[:0]Now most of you thought I was going to be the gung ho "chop em or die" type didn't ya. You have lot to learn grass hoppa.[:0]

141 weeks till completion.

10-06-2009, 07:11 PM
ChopStu, I sure like the look of your cut-n-paste Lark. That's the model I have in the barn. I'm trying to get brakes on it. Runs like a scalded dog... it just won't stop. It sure is tempting when its as easy as it looks in the picture, eh?


10-07-2009, 12:11 AM
Tempered Glass CAN NOT BE CUT DOWN! It must be made to it's finished size and shape before tempering. Attempts to alter it post tempering will leave you with a pile of shards.


10-07-2009, 09:03 PM
Please do not chop the precious few Studebakers...they are ruined forever.

10-08-2009, 03:44 PM
quote:Originally posted by Tom

Please do not chop the precious few Studebakers...they are ruined forever.

10-08-2009, 03:48 PM
To the many that have responded NO CHOP:(

fred k.
10-08-2009, 03:57 PM
To quote Willy Nelson,you got the mony hony i got the time.


10-10-2009, 06:51 PM
If you MUST chop then why not pick something newer versus an historic Studebaker???[8D]

10-10-2009, 06:53 PM
Nick, you asked for advice, so don't flame when it doesn't match what you wanted to hear.

10-10-2009, 07:16 PM
<h1>Don't do it!</h1>

Jon Stalnaker
Editor, Hawk Talks
Karel Staple Chapter SDC

10-11-2009, 09:38 AM
Otay, otay, otay. The car is not going to be chopped. I wanted to take some of the crown out of the roof, buuuut the car being lowered and a valance panel being added to the bottom of the front grill will visually take away that high appearance.
I never take exception to the advise given by the members of this forum although I do not always agree as there are often 50 different opinions proffered to each inquiry. Once again THANKS.

10-11-2009, 12:06 PM
That's the nice thing about the hobby. It's your car and you can do with it as you please.

That being said, I am glad we were able to talk you out of it. IMHO

Jon Stalnaker
Editor, Hawk Talks
Karel Staple Chapter SDC