A feature here at the Daily Driver is the Shop Crash. Once in a while, we have the opportunity to visit a shop so intriguing, that we realize it is our duty to share it with fellow car nuts like you. If you’ve ever driven past a hot rod shop and wanted to know what kinds of creations are brought to life within those walls, well here’s your chance to find out. Join us as we crash the party, this time at Chopit Kustoms…
While at Jeff’s Fun Run on Saturday, we had the chance to pop into the end-spot of the run, Chopit Kustoms in Stanton, Ca.
Before we even made it inside, we were stopped in our tracks by this sensational Inca Gold ’53 Chevy.
Beatnik parking only? We support that!
Right next to the ’53 was this Floorless (and flawless) ’32 Ford Pickup.
With the teaser of those two cars parked out front, we couldn’t wait to sneak inside and take a peek at the shop itself…
Upon entry, we were promptly greeted with some serious business on this engine stand…
… and a nod to the heyday of hot rods in the form of these vintage industry mags!
The walls are lined with all kinds of pics, and at each build or special event, you see snaps of the Fioto family – including oldest son Nick (left, a.k.a. Chopit Jr.), dad Gary (center, the original “Chopit”), and youngest son Fabian. We had a chance to chat with both Nick and Gary during our visit, and they’re certainly two of the coolest cats we’ve ever met!
Trophies and awards are everywhere in Chopit’s front office/showroom – and for good reason. The most recent was this 2013 Best Custom award from last year’s Viva Las Vegas. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of attending that show, let us tell you that it is very tough to be a stand-out hot rod at that event!
What warrants all of these trophies, you ask? If you aren’t quite familiar with Chopit Kustoms, our guess is that you are familiar with at least one of their magnificent hot rods. ’55 Ford “Beatnik” Bubbletop, anyone? Jetson-esque and pure genius, we’re thrilled that the guys at Chopit are making automotive dreams like this one come true!
One thing we love to see in shops is a deep family connection to the art and science of hot rods, and in Chopit Kustoms, that connection is everywhere, from vintage photos…
… to custom family artwork, like this sculpture by youngest son Fabian.
Eager to check out the shop after our visit up front, we were delighted to find that it was filled with authentic hot rod project charm, complete with an array of interesting projects.
The first thing that caught our eye was this frame for a T-bucket. Oldest son Nick hand-crafted a track front end for this rod, from cowl to nose. The body is currently out at paint, and we’re anxious to see the finished product!
Seeing the workshop reminds me of several portions of the carefully crafted “Streetscape” at the Petersen Automotive Museum (I’m starting to think they visited Chopit for inspiration), except this isn’t for show, it’s the real deal…
… complete with every nut and bolt a project could call for…
… and every single tool needed to complete each piece of their custom builds. Notice that there’s a place for everything, and everything’s in its place. Now that’s how we like to see a shop!
This Jag was a bit of a surprise to see, as it is a bit different from the usual customer car. Its arrival was a surprise to Nick too, but he’s certainly happy to have this kind of automotive variety in his shop!
We couldn’t resist taking a peek at the vintage pedal cars that held down their own prized spot in the shop, and we wondered what the chances were that Nick and Fabian raced each other in these when they were kids.
It wasn’t long before we were distracted by this alluring blue beauty…
… who was in the shop for a bit of a spiff-up, including new paint, wheels, and a mechanical check-up.
Each project we passed was in a different state of repair and rebuild…
… half of the fun was seeing the tools used on these projects…
… including parts in process…
… and parts waiting to be reunited with their partners.
Stripped and exposed to the bare bones, this raw and remarkable rod was fascinating from every angle.
Seeing this rod in the deep stages of serious production was a treat! Nick does much of the intense work on these projects, from welding to fabricating and even pinstriping. Even more impressive is the fact that he’s self-taught.
With work like this, it’s no wonder that Chopit “Kustomers” are so happy. According to Gary, each customer still owns their Chopit Kustom, not one has been resold to a new owner.
Clear and regular communication with customers is a top priority at Chopit. Owners stop by every two weeks to review progress and discuss upcoming work on their vehicles.
It was fun to peek around the shop and play the matching game – which parts were earmarked for which projects?
Peppered between machines and tools were artwork and photos of previous builds like this Kustom Dragster.
Even the cabinets themselves have automotive stories to tell!
Another reason Chopit customers are so happy? Rods don’t leave the shop unless they can do at least 100 mph safely. Now that’s a rule we wish all builders would live by!
From the family art and memorabilia lining the walls, to the in-process builds and near-finished rods gracing the shop floor, Chopit Kustoms was filled with authentic detail that left us swooning over all the vintage automotive goodness in this shop. Hot rod shops like Chopit are where legacies survive and thrive, at 100 mph or more, of course!
Special thanks to Gary and Nick for taking the time to chat with us about their family and passion for kustoms! If you’re in So-Cal, don’t miss the opportunity to stop by a one-of-a-kind shop that will leave you ready to hand over your next project to the Fioto family!