It didn't take the customizers of old to realize one of the most effective ways to enhance and alter the look of a vehicle was to chop the top. By lowering the lid, they could not only change the silhouette of a vehicle, but they could also change its persona/style/overall charisma as well. Because of the payback one gets from chopping a top, this method and technique has been a must-do on many hot rodders' projects.
When I first set out to build Project Get Shorty, I had a plethora of ideas in my head about what to do-one of them being to chop the top. Although I was up in the air about the whole thing, not because of the looks, but because of all the work involved, I quickly changed my mind a few months back. When I got finished shaving the driprail on the cab, I took one look at the '71 and immediately decided I needed to do justice to the rest of the cab by lowering the lid. Well, if "the time is now," the question of to chop or not to chop has been answered, and she will be chopped ... oh yes, she will be chopped.
Because I personally don't like '67-72 Chevys with an extreme chop, I decided to only take a nominal amount out of the top. However, when it comes to these trucks, it only takes a small amount to drastically change the look. Due to the amount of steps involved in this process, the only way to give the story justice is to spread it over two months. This month we'll go over the actual chop and method involved. Next month we'll finish up the little things and concentrate on installing new glass in the cab, which we got from Brothers Trucks and Electric-Life.
By the way, like many things, the idea of chopping a top is more intimidating than anything-after all, you are hacking the roof off your ride. However, with careful planning, attention to detail, and patience, the job can be tackled in a straightforward manner.
Enough babble, it's time to get to work.
Besides the fact that I wanted...
Besides the fact that I wanted the top chopped on my truck, another reason was the side profile. Because GM made that wing vent window so high, they had to design the roof to run "up hill." Look between the two red arrows and you'll notice that as the top moves towards the windshield it progressively gains altitude -- no big no-no in my eyes. So, besides chopping the top, I'll also correct this flaw in the process.
Before I even begin to think...
Before I even begin to think about taking a Sawzall to the truck, the first order of business is to structurally secure the body. When cutting the top off any vehicle, the integrity of the body is altered. If things aren't braced properly it will bend and twist like a Radio Flyer with a fat kid in it. Therefore, I braced the cab with 3/4-inch tubing by welding an "X" through the cab, as well as two supports from the front doorjamb to the rear floor.
Next, I went around the cab...
Next, I went around the cab and made a series of measurements, e.g. window opening distance, top-to-doorframe height, rear window opening height, and more. Basically, I made these for reference points.