View Full Version : Chop a 1961 lark wagon?

07-05-2015, 09:40 PM
Hey guys,
I've got a thought that I wanted to run by everyone and hear what you have to say. I'm in the mood for a vintage automobile. I've got two choices at hand. I've got a 1949 international pickup that, if restored, would be brought back to original condition. I also have a 1961 lark wagon. I'm leaning more towards the lark. The body is in decent shape but it is in need of new floor panels. I was at a car show over the weekend and got inspired to build somewhat of a hot rod. Looking at this car, it can be somewhat laughable to imagine this car as a hot rod. This is a four door model, would be better if it was a two door. I would like to chop the top on this. Also I would like to take the back door windows out and the glass and put sheet metal on top to create sort of a panel car, if that makes sense. I don't think I want to paint it. Get everything down to bare metal, give it an acid bath to give it some patina. I would like to put air bags on it and when driven, lower it close to the ground. Envisioning it, it sounds cool, but wanted to get the pros thoughts on it. The car is my dads and he thinks it belongs in a junk yard, but I disagree. What are your thoughts on my doing this? Thanks for your help.

07-05-2015, 09:49 PM
Have you started AND FINISHED a major project before? If not, then choose the International.

07-05-2015, 10:00 PM
Yes I have. I have restored a couple tractors. I am a welding instructor and metalworking teacher at a high school and feel confident on this project but just wondering if this sort of surgery has been done to a studey?

07-05-2015, 10:08 PM
Chopped is much better than junked but I know a local builder that has converted a few four door sedans into chopped two doors and the work is not for the faint of heart. A wagon would be less work but still a challenge.

IIWY, I'd take a few pictures of both vehicles, print them up and see what you can do to make them look like what you want by cutting and pasting unless you are a photoshop expert. If you find something you like the looks of, start taping the vehicle off and look at the work involved. Then remember that there are a lot of cheap unfinished projects out there.

If you think you can pull it off then forge ahead fearlessly. What's the worst that can happen.

BTW, Welcome and post your progress if you chose to go forward.


07-05-2015, 10:09 PM
Chop Dat Lark !

Deaf Mute
07-05-2015, 10:35 PM
It could look kinda like this. one MEAN machine (as long as you don't wear a top hat).

07-05-2015, 10:37 PM
That would be quite a job on the best of days. If it were me, I'd find a 1949-50 Ford coupe or Tudor sedan to chop and channel. Would look so much better done than the Lark IMHO.
Sell the Lark and go shopping.

Warren Webb
07-05-2015, 11:26 PM
Perhaps price out what it will cost just to have the windshield & tailgate glass cut down for the chop you intend to do, then decide.

07-06-2015, 12:53 AM
My advice has always been that if it's a decent survivor car that's close to original and doesn't need much work, restore it to stock or leave it alone. If it's a basket case that has one wheel in the scrap yard, then have at it and build a custom. Personally though I'm a purist.

07-06-2015, 03:24 AM
My advice has always been that if it's a decent survivor car that's close to original and doesn't need much work, restore it to stock or leave it alone. If it's a basket case that has one wheel in the scrap yard, then have at it and build a custom. Personally though I'm a purist.

Studebakers rarely show up at car shows, and when's the last time you saw a Studebaker station wagon on the road? A nicely restored wagon running around would be a real attention getter.

A year ago I read that a father had passed away and the son inherited his very nicely restored Model A. The son dumped acid on the car and chopped it into a rat rod. How's that for showing disrespect for his dad? What a waste of a nice Model A.

07-06-2015, 06:04 AM
Perhaps price out what it will cost just to have the windshield & tailgate glass cut down for the chop you intend to do, then decide.

In my opinion the glass is a major issue. Here in Louisville KY., there is a guy that is well known in the custom world that does chopped tops on most anything.
I recently saw a '59 Chebby that he chopped. Rather than cut the windshield, he lowered the glass into the body. By doing it this way, it uses the stock windshield gasket, not to mention a stock glass. Very slick

07-06-2015, 08:14 AM
You can make it easier to look at without modifying the body. cheers. There are plenty unwanted Frankenstudes on the market now. no offense. My opinion. cheers jimmijim

07-06-2015, 08:31 AM
The roof on anything after the 40's unless a truck are not that high to start with and just look out of place when chopped. There's a lot of other things you can do to a wagon to draw a crowd. Like maybe build it into a woody.

07-06-2015, 09:25 AM
Sounds like a fun project (for a short person)..
I have some pic's from an SDC meet of a modified LArk 4 door wagon, with a sweet custom leather interior.
Liked that car a LOT... Room for friends, easy in and out.... Looked nice!
Most long roof chops take two roofs to do it right...
Chopped tops, while cool, are best when outside, or inside...
It's the getting in and getting out that gets old after a while...
Whatever you do.... Don't get too carried away!

07-06-2015, 12:31 PM
I'd do the lark with a mild chop, build it the way you want it. Its only a car, sure you don't see them often restored to original, but make it fun to drive. Survivor or not its your car, I'd rather start with a solid survivor. It will save you time and money in the end, I would price out the glass..it can be pretty spendy for custom glass. Good luck!

Jeff T.
07-06-2015, 12:56 PM
It seems so simple at the outset, converting a 4 door wagon to a 2 door model and chopping the top. You could A. get some 2 door sedan doors, move the door post back and fill in the difference between the door post and rear fender or B. Don't move the door post use rear door as a filler between door post and fender. As far as chopping... I have no clue:)

I will say that an outside the box idea may take more time than you figure. I have been working on and off on a "what if" Champ cab using the front half of a very dead 63 wagon and the back of an ex Air Force Champ that had its own rust issues. I started out in the mid to late 1990s working on a four door crew cab, then it got cut down to an extended cab and now I may do another cut to a standard cab just to finish it and avoid huge blindspots or making quarter windows. I will also say that the project was interupted by that crazy thing called life so even though I hope to finish the cab by fall I am realistic.

Mike Van Veghten
07-06-2015, 01:44 PM
I can't find the pictures right off, but somewhere I have shots of a 60 Lark wagon that had its top chopped 3".
It looked good. It was already a 2dr. wagon so he had that going for him. He also lengthened the rear fender opening for larger tires. He kept the same basic shape, just made the opening longer (frt. to rr).

As has been said, while the work isn't an easy task, it will look good...if done properly.


07-06-2015, 02:05 PM
I suggest starting by slamming it down, probably with air bags and low profile tires. See how you like that look before cutting the top off. I think that the lowering will make it look long and low enough.
There were 7229 four door 1961 wagons built for the entire World (6552 for the USA).

07-06-2015, 09:39 PM
I agree with Gary! For starters try lowering the wagon first. Google 1961 Studebaker Wagon. Then select images. Within the first 6-8 you will see an orange and white 61 wagon owned by Jim Copen. And another custom. Neither chopped. Start there.

Ill check my notes. But front glass starts at 400. I'm getting back on the road I'll comment further, later

fyi mines chopped 3 front 2 back. Wagon. I'd consider 2-3 in front and maybe a sawblade in the back, lot of work, settle on a stance then, roof line rake.

07-06-2015, 10:29 PM
Have you given any thought to converting the wagon to an El Camino type truck? A mild chop would look good along with lowering and to get the right look I'd change out the door for the longer two door. With a mild chop the windshield could be sunk into the cowl to keep from having to cut it.

Pat Dilling
07-07-2015, 10:58 AM
First off welcome to the Forum, glad to have you here. What you are considering is certainly an ambitious project, but if that is what you want I say go for it. I hope you will hang around here and keep us posted on your project. I suggest that you also visit the H.A.M.B. (http://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/). Studebakers are held in good regard there and I think members will really like your project. And there is a tremendous amount of talent and experience there that are usually willing to offer good advice for the type of build you are considering. Be forewarned some folks there are a little rough around the edges, don't go there with a thin skin.

Whatever you do enjoy your Studebaker!