In our last installment at The Roadster Shop, we focused on moving the wheel opening in the front fenders forward about 4 inches to match the F-100's stretched wheelbase, and what a big difference the wheel's placement in the wheelwell makes! The same goes for the rest of the truck when it comes to automotive design or redesign. A nip here and a tuck there can make a dramatic difference in the overall flow of a vehicle's lines, and no other part has been attacked as much as the roof when it comes to this. People have been chopping tops for over 70 years in the pursuit of improving on Detroit's compromise in design for the masses. Have you ever noticed how more than a few prototype cars and renderings have much sleeker lines than what winds up on the showroom floor? They have to settle on a middle-of-the-road design for the general public, but who's to say we have to stick with it?
Early Ford F-100s have a peculiar profile-it looks like the front of the roof is higher than the back, which is great if you're building a chopped Merc or a similar custom that doesn't need an aggressive, forward-sloping roofline, which makes a vehicle look like it's going fast standing still. To achieve this, you don't need to have a roof so low that the windows are like mail slots-a little dab'll do ya! The guys at The Roadster Shop in Elgin, Illinois, took a look at the roof on customer Mike Crimaldi's '53 F-100 and decided it was only going to need 3/4 inch taken out of the front A-pillars to add the needed sass to the Ford's top half. In fact, they wouldn't even have to sever the whole roof from the truck or quarter the top for the chop, which gets tricky. The Roadster Shop's sheetmetal guy extraordinaire, Chad Glasshagel, busted out the reciprocating saw, cutoff wheels, clamps, and TIG welder to perform this major yet minor surgery, and he finished the job by rounding the sharp corners on the door tops and welding the seam in the back of the cab above the rear window.
So what are you waiting for? There's plenty of '53-55 F-100s out there. Just remember to measure twice and cut once!
Here's where we left off in the January issue, with the front wheel openings moved forward
This shot gives away the goods early, but it needs a side-by-side comparison to illustrate