Chopping the Top of a 1940 Ford Coupe Part 2 – Lowering the Lid

By Ron Covell

Photography By Tim Bernsau

’40 Ford coupe has its roofline finalized

In the last installment, Troy Ladd and his capable crew at Hollywood Hot Rods had severed the roof from the beautiful Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts ’40 Ford body. This time you’ll see how they buttoned up the panels for the 2012 AMSOIL/STREET RODDER Road Tour ’40.

It’s one thing to cut a body apart, but putting it back together will separate the men from the boys. Any top chop entails a certain amount of difficulty, and the more curvaceous the roof’s contours, the more challenging it is to fit all the pieces back together, and even more difficult to ensure that the visual flow remains graceful. They don’t get much more curvaceous than the ’40 Ford.

Ladd and his crew are old hands at this sort of work, and they had a pretty good idea of how to proceed. Nevertheless, some of the details were particularly challenging, and they did a stellar job of fitting the old pieces back together, with only a few details that required shaping new panels.

The easiest fitting was at the B-pillar, since the roof was dropped in line with it. The B-pillar is completely vertical; with only a little taper as viewed from the front. The A-pillars were more complicated, since they had to be shortened, laid back, and tapered in, keeping the window-mounting flange in perfect alignment, since you can’t bend glass. As people often say, chopping a top is largely about making the metal fit the glass. The photos show just how many tweaks and adjustments were required in this area, but the end result was beautiful.

The area at the rear of the roof required a lot of careful fitting and adjusting, but as you’ll see, the crew found ways to fit the original metal back together in its new, 1-inch lower position, without the need for a lot of pie cuts, “slicing and dicing,” or major reshaping. The most demanding area was at the rear corner of the quarter windows, the driprail, and the roof area just above it. You’ll see the that boys used just about every trick in the book in this area, but it came out superbly, with no visible indication of all the tweaks and adjustments that were required. The metalwork was done to such a high level that nearly all of the seams are completely invisible from the outside.

It has taken many hours to get the roof section matched to the body again, but the chop is not completed yet. The door tops, garnish moldings, and wind wings all need to be heavily modified to match the new contours of the roof, and that will be the subject of a future article. In the meantime, take a close look at how careful planning and high-level craftsmanship all come together to create a beautiful top chop. Many builders can use these techniques for their own projects.

(800) 956-5695

Hollywood Hot Rods
(818) 842-6900

The Eastwood Company
(800) 343-9353

Miller Electric Mfg. Co.
(920) 734-9821

(800) 373-1937

Dennis Carpenter Ford Restoration Parts
(704) 786-8139