Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Impression" -- Chip Foose's Reimagined '37 Ford Roadster

For a reason I've never been able to explain, I've never been a hot rod or kustom kar fancier.  Somehow, I always thought that tangible, production-based cars should remain stock.  This excepts those expensive classic cars of yore by coachbuilding firms that worked from a bare chassis-plus-frontal-metalwork.  Ditto concept cars.

The present post deals with what at first might seen to be a 'rod with a kustom body.  But it's not.  It's the Impression, an essentially-built-from-scratch (as best I can tell) car with modern components having a body inspired by 1930s Fords.

The design-builder is Chip Foose, trained in industrial design at the famed Art Center in Pasadena.   His web site is here.

Impression, a commissioned car costing a huge amount of money, appeared in 2006 and won an important design contest, as reported in Autoweek here.  The article mentions:

"That car was the one everyone generally acknowledged would go home with the nine-foot-tall trophy for America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. That car, the Impression, was designed and built by Chip Foose and is owned by Ken Reister. Other owners quoted costs from $1.6 million to $2.2 million, depending on how much they wanted to emphasize the gap between their cars and Foose’s. Neither Reister nor Foose would say how much it cost, and who really keeps track once they hit seven figures, anyway? But Foose did say the car sports 4000 handcrafted pieces and was started six years ago. True, it sat for about three and a half years while Foose and company tended to other projects, but this one got a lot of attention. ...

"'There’s some ’34, ’36 and ’37,' Foose told us, as he set up the display around the Impression. 'I took my favorite cues from those and from 1930s Mercedes influences. Everything was as if you took a ’36 or ’37 Ford and modernized it—if you had a stock ’36 or ’37 next to it, you would see the resemblance.'"

Below are paired images of Foose's Impression and a rare, non-customized '37 Ford so that you can evaluate his work given that starting point.  Photos of the 1937 Ford DeLuxe Roadster are from RM Sotheby's auction web site.  Those of the Impression were taken by me at the Petersen Automotive Museum in the Spring of 2017. Click on any of them to enlarge.


This is the museum's plaque.  It refers to Impression as being derived from a 1936 Ford design.

Here is a 1936 Ford.  Little of it is apparent on Foose's design.  Below are comparison photos of Impression and a 1937 Ford.

Front quarter views.  The Impression is lower and therefore visually longer.  The grille is raked back at a greater angle, plus there are no hood side vents.  Also missing are bumpers, this allowing Foose's sculpting to be better appreciated.

Impression's driving position is farther aft than on an actual '37 Ford.  This side view shows its hot rod design heritage in its notionally lowered chassis and the resulting awkward relationships of the wheels to the fender wheel openings.  I hate those chromed wheels that totally contrast with the otherwise clean design.  But (sigh) it's supposed to be a hot rod, so we just have to deal with it.

The real Ford has a rumble seat, a detail Foose probably wisely omitted.

1937 Fords were designed by Briggs, the company's body supplier.  According to Henry Dominguez (here, page 146), Edsel Ford told Briggs to use E.T. (Bob) Gregorie's Lincoln Zephyr frontal design features.  Both the Ford and the Impression have functional headlight components behind styled glass facings.

1 comment:

Greg Prosmushkin said...
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