The word iconic gets thrown around a fair bit in the classic car world, but few vehicles are worthy of that characterization like the Lamborghini Countach. Its wedge shape, scissor doors, and unique supercar stance is truly an enduring symbol of 1980s excess. The Countach’s frequent placement in popular culture cemented it as one of the most memorable vehicles for a generation, and not just for car enthusiasts. The Countach both evolved and devolved as time went by, as the purity of original the LP400 design made way for busier and distracting redesigns. That’s why Chip Foose has a plan to take the Countach to the next level!

Chip starts with a rough sketch of the Countach’s side view, with gentle softening of the otherwise unyielding angles in the upper greenhouse and the front end. He also removed the rectangular side marker lights,  added rounded door cutlines, larger wheels, redesigned body side scoops, integrated the intake behind the quarter windows, and made a smaller version of the later LP5000 Countach rear wing. The final rendering is finished in a very 1980s white with a bright red background.

The end result is a bit rounder, very much an evolution including the elegance seen in the Countach’s predecessor, the Lamborghini Miura. So what do you think of Chip’s creation?

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The mid-engine layout of the Toyota MR2 was a first for a Japanese auto manufacturer, and this Mid-ship Runabout Two-seater was a modern and affordable sports car for the masses. The original MR2’s angular shape was influenced by the aerodynamic wedge vehicles from Italian design studios, especially Bertone, in the 1970s. More to the point, the 1981 Toyota SA-X shows the Italian influence on what would become the final product, and serves as Chip’s foundation for his latest creation.

Toyota SA-X Prototype (1981)
Toyota

Chip starts with a side view of a first-generation MR2, and makes note of the harsh, squared-off details. His next sketch looks to bring the smooth elements of the SA-X concept into the final product. Then Chip seeks inspiration from the De Tomaso Pantera: An Italian bodied, mid-engine super car built from 1971-1992.  Including Pantera DNA may seem out of place, but it’s clear that Toyota designers were indeed inspired by Italian creations like the Pantera. It’s therefore not a stretch to add its fastback and transform the MR2 from a performance commuter car to an unabashed sports car.

Chip turns the MR2 into a longer, rounder, and sleeker mid-engine sports car with a faster windshield, muscular quarter window, fastback roof, and smoothly integrated cooling scoop in the quarter panel. Chip finishes the rendering in silver, so your eyes are focused more on the body’s new contours and less on the color itself.

The goal was to make the first-generation MR2 into something that wouldn’t be pigeonholed as a design from the late-1970s or early 1980s. Do you think Chip made it happen?

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We took your feedback and made this happen. Chip Foose can tackle any flawed design and improve it, and the Pontiac Aztek was universally ridiculed for good reason. The original concept car from 1999 certainly had merit, but all the intended energy and presence went down the drain when the concept met the “hard points” of GM’s U-body minivan platform.  A cool Pontiac SUV based on a Pontiac Montana?  Good luck with that: The end result was offensive to most eyes, ill-proportioned, and its plastic clad body was so ungainly that a mid-cycle exterior refresh happened in the second year of production … nearly unheard of in the car design business.

Luckily, Chip Foose is a man with a plan. Starting with the side view of a fully-plasticized 2001 Aztek, Chip lays down the basic lines to work with the original U-body platform. He creates a sharp rake from front to back, a strong lower valence with large, round fog lights, a lower DLO (daylight opening) for the door glass, adds wraparound quarter window glass, and lowers the side cladding so the painted body reaches the wheel arches.  These changes help the Aztek look significantly different from its U-body minivan brethren, more like the 1999 concept’s design.

Chip then adds the concept’s “fast” hood and fender lines (which meet the side view mirror) and creates prominent body side streaks that were neutered on the production version. The headlights and grille are then designed to flow with the new hood. Finally Chip aggressively shortens the front overhang and slightly pushes the front wheels forward: while it looks sleeker and more like a BMW SUV, this would also improve off-road performance in terms of approach angles on steep hills.

Chip’s second rendering adjusts the Aztek’s stance so it looks less like a street car and has the stance of an off-road worthy CUV. (Don’t snicker, those CUV-based Jeeps do OK when pavement turns into dirt and rocks.) Also note how the curved door cutlines aren’t nearly as minivan slab-sided as the production version. The third rendering transfers the design, adds an aggressive wheel/tire package, and yellow paint with anthracite plastic cladding.

Chip wanted to “add passion” back to the Pontiac Aztek.  We think he nailed it; what say you?

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The Jeep Cherokee (XJ) was a pioneer that set the stage for the massive success of the modern day SUV. It had an unmistakable combination of on-road handling, off-road prowess, and a simple, tough, but comfortable design for the whole family. And while the more famous Jeep Wrangler is also more desirable to many off-roaders, the XJ still enjoys a loyal following to this day.  Chip Foose sees potential in the clean and uncluttered lines, doing very little to make it into the perfect off-road vehicle.

Chip starts by drawing a two-door XJ in side profile, creating an honest tribute to the two-box design with details like the roof rack, C-pillar window vents, and the strong cutline that goes across the body side. Chip adds step bars, tucked-in bumpers, an additional front tube bumper, fender flares, a mild lift kit, and larger wheels in a design worthy of the original stamped steel five-spoke affairs.

Chip finishes his design by rendering the XJ in black, with blue sky reflections that suggest it’s taking advantage of being in the great outdoors.  Do you think he did the legendary XJ justice?  Tell us what you think in the comments.

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Chip Foose has fond memories of the first (E30) BMW M3 as a student at the Art Center College of Design, so he wanted to give this modern classic a new look with a quick sketch. His mission was to integrate certain elements to make the M3 a more integrated design. (more…)

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The “Doozy” nickname came into pop culture for good reason: Duesenberg’s superior engineering inspired the term of praise and admiration, and, over 80 years after the company went defunct, the monker still has merit. Chip Foose never had the honor of transforming a Duesenberg into a “Foosenberg,” so, in this latest video, he puts himself in the place of a proper coachbuilder of the prewar era. This is not a restomod by any stretch of the imagination.

Since he hasn’t decided which Duesenberg model will undergird his coachbuilt body, Chip starts by sketching several versions using Duesenberg’s three off-the-shelf chassis, plus their fenders and signature grille. Then Chip takes the Foosenberg to places that most coachbuilders of the 1920s era dared not tread. His four sketches riff on a sleek, slightly rounded coupe body style, both with and without roofs.

After this brainstorming sketch session, Chip settles on a two-door convertible with a softened running board design, fender-mount spare wheels, character lines that slope downward to meet the rear wheel, and a steeply raked rear deck. After applying a full gray-scale rendering, the Foosenberg comes to life as a proper coachbuilt Duesenberg sporting a softer, more elegant body.

While Chip would like to make a few more changes, including a taller ride height, we think the Foosenberg does justice both to the Duesenberg brand and the era in which the cars were crafted. What do you think of the Foosenberg? Sound off in the comments below!

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Chip Foose has a magic recipe for making the ultimate Chevrolet Chevelle: four headlights and four taillights out back. The 1970 Chevelle’s unique front fascia is one of the most popular years for the second generation Chevelle, but the signature quad headlight treatment could benefit from a matching quad rear taillight design from the 1971-72 Chevelle.

Chip starts the integration by drawing the Chevelle in side profile, rendering it in a sleek yellow with a low stance and large wheels tucked inside the body. Above this rendering we see Chip drawing a 1970 front and 1971-72 rear view, but goes further by re-using the rear’s bumper circle for custom driving lights under the grille of the 1970 front end. It’s very straightforward, as Chip states he’s using factory parts and reimagining them without the mandatory budgetary constraints of General Motors, which in turn makes his ideal Chevelle.

Chip adds that the 1970’s iconic front end is the cleanest of the Chevelle lineup. This stems from an uninterrupted curve from the fender top down to the top of the bumper, as there’s no signal light in the way like the 1971 front end. This look is only improved with a 1971-72 rear bumper that replicates the face of a 1970 Chevelle. So what do you think about adding the four taillight rear design of the later Chevelles onto the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle?

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Often ridiculed following its debut in the turbulent 1970s, the AMC Pacer’s radical interpretation of a compact car has since accomplished an impressive feat—it’s become a legitimate cult classic. One part of its shocking design included a large amount of glass to make the car both look and feel bigger, which is something Chip Foose reimagines as a custom delivery van.

Chip begins with a rear three quarter view of the Pacer, which aids in highlighting the changes he’ll make to the body. He adds a full-width taillight and 1967-68 Camaro bumpers to streamline the back end, erases the massive quarter window, and adds streetwise dual exhaust cutouts tucked into the roll pan. His second overlay cleans up the design, adds the Pacer’s signature door contouring, and includes a tubbed rear end for the right stance.

The final render is finished in a 1970s-era orange. Chip adds  a lower valence to the front bumper and ditches the blocky square door handle for an elegant chrome handle. A pop culture icon thanks to the Wayne’s World movie, the AMC Pacer gets a whole new look by taking on the modern day panel delivery van.

Such van conversions are still common in Europe; examples like the Ford Fiesta Van combine the sporty style of a compact “supermini” with the practicality of a delivery van. So, did Chip Foose reinvent this genre by adding serious street rod presence with his reimagined AMC Pacer?

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Enzo Ferrari called the Series I Jaguar E-type “the most beautiful car ever made,” but the E-type coupe doesn’t get nearly the attention of its convertible counterpart.  Chip Foose has plans to change that. Before our eyes, he’ll transform the E-type coupe into a streetwise sports car with even sleeker design elements.

Chip starts by putting the E-type’s side profile on paper, then gives it a lower greenhouse, more substantial rocker panels and a lowered stance. Of course, he keeps the Jaguar’s signature cab-backward body, thin chrome bumpers, and fastback roofline, but Chip also envisions a faster A-pillar with a less extreme wrap to the windscreen.  Larger wire spoke wheels, cooling vents behind the front wheels, the deletion of vertical bumperettes, and relocated taillights complete the concept. Now that’s how you make an already clean design even cleaner.

Without a doubt, Foose took a nearly six-decade-old design and brought it up to today’s standards. Did he do this classic design justice? Tell us in the comments below; we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Released as Ford’s answer to Jeep’s CJ-5 and the International Harvester Scout, the first-generation Ford Bronco was a light truck in the purest form: a practical, functional, simple vehicle intended for on- and off-road duty. The clean body lines, minimalist interior, removable doors/roof, and fold-down windscreen made no pretensions to style or luxury; at its core it was a functional design.

Chip Foose understands the first-gen Bronco’s purity of design and appreciates why this off-roader is a highly prized collectible vehicle. But Foose re-imagines the Bronco as a street-savvy cruiser with a high-performance chassis swap, raked hot-rod stance, and a sleeker windshield.  After laying down the basic proportions on paper, Chip begins to tweak the Bronco’s design into a street-worthy custom creation.

As Foose fills out his design, you’ll note the unique windshield and more sporty A-pillar, a slammed-to-the-ground chassis, larger wheels, a hot-rod style billet aluminum grille, 1969 Mustang hood scoop, racing stripes, and a modest spoiler at the rear.  Chip’s design is rendered in classic Shelby Mustang white with blue stripes, which lets the Bronco’s minimalist body speak for itself.

While purists will have their own thoughts about this concept, Foose took everything below the windshield (i.e. the most timeless part of the Bronco) and ushered in a new era of performance and style with time-tested upgrades and a far sleeker windshield for a thoroughly modern interpretation of the Ford Bronco.  That isn’t too far off from the Ford’s vision for the upcoming Bronco, is it?  Sound off in the comments below; we’d love to hear your thoughts.

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