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Chopping A Top

Earlier model cars and pickup trucks were boxier shaped than the ones produced in the ‘50s and ‘60s and not very aerodynamic. To lower that profile dry lakes racers, and hot rod builders mimicking the look of racecars, cut the roof off of the vehicle and reattached it after removing part of the sheet metal and posts through the center of the window

To chop the top a slice is taken out of the top usually horizontally through the center of the windows and windshield. The sheet metal is welded together after the top is realigned to mate with the body at the door and window openings. Early vehicles like Model A Fords are easy to chop because the windows and windshield are vertical so that when a slice is taken out of the top it drops straight down and realigns with the body below. Vehicles from the later 1930s and 1940s are more challenging to chop because the windshield, side and rear windows are slanted varying degrees from vertical making realignment much more difficult. Examples of the different approaches that are needed to bring them into alignment are shown in the accompanying drawings from the book Tex Smith’s “How To Chop Tops” provided by Jim Clark

 

Chop Top-11

 

Chop Top-21

Chop Top-31

 

Chop Top-41

 

Chop Top-51

Once the sheet metal has been reunited, the same amount of material has to be removed from the glass and window frames. Window frames are cut and joined after the same amount of material has been removed as was taken from the top. Flat glass is relatively easy to cut down or replace with new glass cut to fit. Curved glass is much more difficult to cut and often breaks in the process. Curved glass can be taped and sandblasted, sanded down with a belt sander or sunk into the cowl or rear deck to hide the extra glass. It can be cut with glasscutters but more often than not it breaks.

 

 

 

 

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