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OCBJ Chip Foose

OCBJ Chip Foose

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Published by: SherriLCruz on Apr 04, 2012
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02/01/2013

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HOT ROD KINGBy Orange County Business JournalMonday, March 6, 2006Using a plain blue pen, Chip Foose makes swift, sweeping strokes, outlining the body of whatwill be a drawing of a modified 1932 Ford Roadster.The drawing is set to yield a car that will be used to raise money for Cruisin' For a Cure."If I'm not building, I'm sketching something," says Foose, one of Southern California's most popular hot rod designers.Foose is founder of Foose Design in Huntington Beach, which designs and builds million-dollar hot rods, mostly for rich executives.He also plays himself on TLC's "Overhaulin'",a car enthusiast's mix of "Pimp My Ride" and"Punk'd."Car lovers herald Foose because he has artistic and mechanical skills. Some of his originaldesigns include "Grandmaster," a tricked out 1935 Chevrolet Master Sedan, "Impression," a1936 Ford Roadster, and "Stallion," a 1934 Ford Coupe."The way Chip Foose puts the parts together transcends mere mechanics," said Leslie Kendall,curator at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles."Grandmaster" sketch: a tricked out 1935 Chevrolet Master SedanAn exhibit of Foose's work, "From Pen to Pavement," is on display there later this month.Foose, who's done this for 35 years, said he sees his work as hobby and passion."I call it a lifestyle," he said. "Not a career."Money in LicensingThere isn't much profit building hot rods. The money is in the Foose name, which he has beenable to leverage to sell all kinds of products, from wheels and snowboards to TV shows andHot Wheels. A line of tools for Stanley Works' Mac Tools and a line of books are in the works.One of his key licensing deals is with toy company RC2 Corp. of Oak Brook, Ill.RC2 turns Foose's designs into miniature collectible cars.Foose's paint design for Jeff Gordon's racecar recently was seen at California Speedway inFontana.Motorsports Authentics LLC of Arizona turned Foose's design for Gordon into collectibles,which were sold to fans at the racetrack. Niche carmaker Unique Performance of Texas is building and selling a limited number of real
 
cars, based on Foose's designs. One, Foose's 1969 Camaro, starts at $124,000.Carson Lev, Foose's licensing agent, is working on a dozen licensing deals for Foose, whocollects royalties."I get a small percent of what he does," Lev said.The two are business partners and longtime friends, bonded by their love of cars."It's fun to work with your buddy," Lev said.The pair built two hot rods together,a full size Twin Mill and Deora II for Mattel Inc.'s HotWheels. Lev worked for Mattel."My job was to take the toy brand and make it relevant to men," he said.Another of Foose's projects: designing for the Motor City Casino in Detroit."They want an authentic car vibe," Lev said. "The guy ought to be in the carnival for all the plates he spins.""Overhaulin'" is one of those plates.The show, in its third season, films near his shop, producing three episodes a month.The concept: The show steals someone's beloved car, usually an heirloom in sorry shape. ThenFoose designs the makeover."We come and steal the car," Foose said. "Then we'll mess with them all week."Usually, it's an average Joe whose car gets swiped and redone. Sometimes celebrities get in onthe action.Sheryl Crow set up former fianc & #233; Lance Armstrong, who had his GTO made over. Car  buff Jay Leno also was on the show, pranking a friend.Foose is set to be on an upcoming "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," according to Lev.At the ShopBack at the shop, Foose lays down another piece of paper and starts sketching again. He's got anoon deadline. Squeezed at the edge of a desk he's sharing with his assistant, he's drawing andtaking phone calls. An earsplitting noise is coming from the garage, where builders are makingnew ramps for the shop.His office is small. There's a large engine sitting on the floor and a gigantic America's MostBeautiful Roadster trophy on the shelf.
 
Foose has won seven of those, along with two Don Ridler Memorial awards, one of the most prestigious awards in the hot rod world. Foose has plenty of other accolades, too many tomention here.His merchandise is strewn around the office,hats in chairs, T-shirts on the desk.An upright chopper bike sits in the corner. Foose likes bikes, too,several hang from the ceilingof the garage. He designed some of the frames for Fountain Valley-based Nirve Sports Ltd., a bicycle maker.At this point, Foose is detailing the grille of the Roadster drawing. He says he gets inspirationfor his designs from everything."Being a relatively new father, I look at some baby equipment," he said.Foose owns several cars,a black 1969 Camaro, a 2005 Ford 150, a Cadillac SRX and aThunderbird. They've all been modified.Foose is working on about eight different cars, from subtle modifications to complete rebuilds.Sometimes his customers come in with an idea. Sometimes they just say, "I want a cool hotrod."Foose then sketches the design and builds a scale model. He charges for time and materials. Hedoes about one concept car a year.A metal shell on the floor and a sketch on the wall is one he's working on for himself. It ismodeled after a World War II fighter jet. Soldiers coming home from the war started hotrodding, he said.Foose said he likes both parts of the operation, designing and building."I love being part of a build," he said.The only things he doesn't do is sew interiors or work on transmissions.Started YoungAt age 3, Foose started drawing with his father, Sam Foose, a well-known car guy. He woulddraw whatever his father happened to be working on at his auto body and hot rod shop, ProjectDesign in Santa Barbara.At 7, Foose began working in his dad's shop."My father had great patience," he said.Foose said he's sold cars to pay for things.

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