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jclary
12-05-2010, 11:12 PM
While reading Matt's post about his grandfather's newly purchased Lark hard top, my mind began to wander (it is the natural state of my brain). For those old enough to remember, from the time of the first automobiles until the early '60's the roofline of cars was designed to give plenty of head room because adult males wore hats. Not just caps, but hats. When did this change?

To me, as I recall, the change happened because of one man. Not so much on purpose by that man, but because of the big deal the press made of his choice. That man was president Kennedy. Chet Huntly, David Brinkley, Walter Cronkite, and others made a huge deal about the young president going hatless.

Suddenly, headroom (hat clearance) was no longer so important. Rooflines began to plummet, and cars became lower, sleeker, and even sedans caught the trend. Of course, this was all too late for Studebaker, since the plants were shutting down as the hats came off.

I have seen chopped coupes, hawks, and trucks. Chopped rods of all makes have been done. However, I don't recall ever seeing a "chopped Lark." (Wicked thought) Do any exist? Does anyone have pictures? Done well...I think it would be a wicked looking car without the tall greenhouse that was originally designed for hat clearance.

Andy R.
12-05-2010, 11:18 PM
Fascinating observation. His wife had a huge impact on fashion at that time, so it makes perfect sense.

41 Frank
12-05-2010, 11:18 PM
chopstu right here on the Forum is doing a 61

Bob Andrews
12-05-2010, 11:22 PM
Dang, John, where you been?? Our own Kevin "Keb'Mo'" Dillon (4961Studebaker) is doing just that!

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q14/kkad0711/photo0173.jpg

Just one thread on the car:

http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?46209-ChopStu-The-little-things

Milaca
12-05-2010, 11:24 PM
John, I think it's your bed time. Just kidding. :)
Having driven both Hawks and Larks, I don't think I have any more headroom in them than what I have in my 1998 Grand Prix. I guess the only difference being that the seat in the Pontiac is much lower. With that said, pehaps the advent of lower roof lines also meant lowering the seats? I have a 4 inch diameter stereo speaker mounted vertically under the seat of my Hawk, but have very little clearance under the modern car's seat.
But to answer your question, I guess I havent seen a chopped Lark in person but I believe there is a forum member doing such a modification.

jclary
12-05-2010, 11:32 PM
Dang, John, where you been?? Our own Kevin "Keb'Mo'" Dillon (4961Studebaker) is doing just that!

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q14/kkad0711/photo0173.jpg

Just one thread on the car:

http://forum.studebakerdriversclub.com/showthread.php?46209-ChopStu-The-little-things

Hey, I have seen this one, however, it is not a hardtop, and the fact that it is also lowered threw me off a bit. It does look cool though and this thread gives him a chance to get it some attention without having to toot his own horn.

Great example...any more...post away!

rockinhawk
12-06-2010, 06:48 AM
I still wear a hat. Being of average height,I don't have the roof clearance problem,but the tall headrest on modern cars do bug me some time. NT

Bob Andrews
12-06-2010, 07:18 AM
Hey, I have seen this one, however, it is not a hardtop

Ah, you didn't specify 'hardtop'. In that case I can't recall ever seeing any... Probably would be much easier than what Kevin's doing...

8E45E
12-06-2010, 08:02 AM
[B]While reading Matt's post about his grandfather's newly purchased Lark hard top, my mind began to wander (it is the natural state of my brain). For those old enough to remember, from the time of the first automobiles until the early '60's the roofline of cars was designed to give plenty of head room because adult males wore hats. Not just caps, but hats. When did this change?


I believe you are thinking of the 2-door body style; especially hardtops, and when the 'Fastback' body style came out. I would pinpoint 1965 as a start for that one. The only manufacturer that was concious of rear seat headroom was probably AMC with its Marlin.

Craig

jclary
12-06-2010, 08:23 AM
I believe you are thinking of the 2-door body style...
Craig

That was my main thought when I first posted this thread.

Also, someone mentioned how head rest interfere with wearing hats. That is probably the biggest "hat-killer" of all. I have a couple of brimmed hats that I like to wear in the summer. All my vehicles, except for the Studebakers, make it nearly impossible to wear a hat in the car because of the head rests.

Jim B PEI
12-06-2010, 08:26 AM
While I like what 4961 is doing to his 2 door, I, like Mr C, am curious as to what a Lark Hardtop--possibly a 59 or 60 with fenderskirts and all--would look like with a "Gentleman's Chop". Perhaps someone with good Photoshop skills could show us how its done? My last foray into 'whatif' required me to print off several identical colour pictures of a wagon, and use scissors and tape to figure out a few bits.

65cruiser
12-06-2010, 09:13 AM
They sure advertised "hatroom" for the 1965 Cruiser:

http://www.65cruiser.com/images/adpg2.jpg

4961Studebaker
12-06-2010, 09:14 AM
I agree whole heartedly agree with John, the top hat went out of style once Kennedy didn't wear one at his inauguration. I believe IKE did! Much like the popularity of drag racing gave way to the big n little prostreet craze.
So the theory of 'as the hat goes' so do the roof lines makes perfect sense.
Kind of funny this comes up today, because I was passed by a Dodge Viper last night and the roof line on that car is so low that you actually see 2 small bubbles to MAKE head room for the occupants. : )

As to a hardtop chopped, I don't recall seeing one either, let alone a sedan the closest I've seen in person is a drawing of one, "show them Larks" thread.......Bob has a 61 HT drawing in his post, (however it looks more stock height. And another I'll need to scan.

Proportions have to be matched IMO if the top comes down in a gentleman way the springs need to be lowered a little as well to avoid a squatty appearance. While I don't have a picture of a stock ride height/chopped top.......I do have a pic in reverse to illustrate a Top hat friendly, lowered ride :cool:

http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q14/kkad0711/Picture020.jpg
.
http://i132.photobucket.com/albums/q14/kkad0711/Picture006.jpg

4961Studebaker
12-06-2010, 09:24 AM
My last foray into 'whatif' required me to print off several identical colour pictures of a wagon, and use scissors and tape to figure out a few bits.

I recall those day's,.......scotch tape works the best doesn't it. :mad: :D :D :D :D :D

8E45E
12-06-2010, 09:30 AM
Kind of funny this comes up today, because I was passed by a Dodge Viper last night and the roof line on that car is so low that you actually see 2 small bubbles to MAKE head room for the occupants. : )



When I first saw one those, what came to mind was the Abarth 'Double Bubble' from circa 1959/60. It also low for the era, and the roof had the same provisions for headroom. As far as the first 'factory' choptop, I'd say it was the 1978-80 Volvo 262C. It truly was a chopped top with three inches removed by Bertone, and new C-pillars grafted on.

Craig

comatus
12-06-2010, 03:00 PM
Doesn't it seem like any space gained by the absence of hats would be more than paid back in what was required for bouffant hair-dos?

Kennedy did wear a silk top hat to the ceremony, but he took it off. There's been a lot of myth-busting on that one. Heck, maybe it blew off. Ever wonder how history might have differed if William Harrison had kept his hat on?

What really changed for cars in that era was a matter of etiquette. Auto interiors became the same as building interiors, where hats were removed. Caps were for open cars. And balding guys. Minivans and crossovers have room for a hat: what is up with that?

We all know that the towering roofline of the Avanti is the result of Egbert being fourteen feet tall (at my house, he still is).