Friday, June 18, 2010

Once a Mercedes, Always a Mer. . . Not So Much!

Starting out as a Mercedes Benz CL coupe, this new Chevy Bel Air is a favorite chop of mine. It incorporates several classic Bill Mitchell GM styling cues—a flying-buttress roofline, trademark "2-hole" Chevy taillights, and the pillarless coupe styling that the original 1950 Bel Air brought to the masses. Just about the only Mercedes left in it are the front fender bulges and rear valance panel with quad tailpipes. The louvered rocker panel trim piece wouldn't necessarily be functional, but is a styling detail that Harley Earl and Mitchell both would have loved. You know the drill: click images to enlarge.

This slightly tongue-in-cheek Ford Crown Victoria chop is a bit lower in resolution than I work in now. It dates back a few years. The donor image was an S63 AMG sedan, but the only Mercedes left in it are the rocker panels and rear valance/exhaust pipes. I wanted this large RWD Ford sedan to evoke the Crown Victorias of the early '90s, hence the 6-light DLO, although the C pillar window treatment is actually a bit '70s inspired. A full-length chrome beltline modling incorporating the door handles, is a touch that goes back to the '30s on many cars, as well as early '60s Fords. Rover first brought this styled molding back in the '90s on its last UK-built cars, but I think it could work on today's cars if done right. The front and rear styling was meant to be "Super" Fusion in appearance, although the chrome molding on the trunk lid with the Ford logo centered on it is very '68 Torino. The slight indents on the hood and trunk lids suggest Ford's trademark dual paint stripes used on it's performance models. The vertical headlights evoke the '65-'67 fullsize Fords, and the polished silver front passenger door is a nod to the Crown Vic's long-standing record as a police vehicle.

This Thunderbird is based on an image of the CL coupe, just as the Bel Air above was. I'm sure by now you've recognized the rear diffuser with quad exhaust and the rocker—I think they work really well so why change 'em, lol? My Thunderbird chops usually continue the 'real' Thunderbirds—the posh 4-5 seat luxury coupes that first entered the market in '58. This Tbird uses the classic indented trunklid of the '64-'71 models, but takes it a step further by indenting the rear window too, creating a glorious 3D piece of glass-probably enormously difficult and expensive to produce! Large square multi-element taillights and pillarless 2 door coupe styling are more Tbird cues, and the broad C pillar with Thunderbird logo round out this return to sporting elegance!


  1. We need to talk about this Tbird.
    "Unique in all the world it isn't.
    Taillights remind me of a Fairmont Futura ! With the popularity of 4 doors these days, added to your love of suicide doors, I think you should base this car off the new BMW Gran Turismo 4 door coupe concept. Add suicide doors, full width sequential LED taillights, and the oval 57 tbird grille in the front, with state of the art audi-esque headlights. DAMN ! Would make any car queen proud !

    Love this website !
    It's hard to find a fag my age with so much left and right brain activity. Your penchant for art, suicide doors and all things floral have got my attention.
    Bravo !

  2. Kjoseph—THANK YOU! thanks for your comments and for your time to check my work out. In all fairness I chopped this particular Tbird a couple of years ago. Its' hard to keep up with a daily blog and post brand new up-to-date stuff every day! the fact is I have more than 600, almost 700 chops from the past 4 years that I draw on to make sure i can update the site almost every day. I agree that a 4 door suicide door Tbird could be AWESOME! one of my favorite cars of all time is the original '67 4 door Tbird, with the bucket seats and the power window switches on the upper console. I owned a '64 Bird for more than 25 years, and will never, ever forget the feeling of driving it, and being seen in it. I'll think about your suggestion about the BMW and take it into consideration for a new Bird. I've been ill off and on for the past few months but I'm going to try to chop some brand new ideas shortly. Thanks so much for checking my site out and for bothering to comment/. I appreciate it more than you know!

  3. Casey,

    Do The T-Bird and Bel Air have faces? The rear 45 of the T-Bird is fantastic.

    RW, Scottsdale, AZ

  4. Hey RW,
    the Tbird was only rendered from the rear. I think if I did the front, I'd try to capture the flavor the '61-'66 Birds, sort of a sleek look, with the bumpers somehow integrated and a below bumper grille.

    i DID do a front of the Bel Air, but it's nothing special to tell you the truth, lol, de riguer modern Chevy 2 level grille. It's not exactly the same as the Bel Air posted, in details. It can seem to be a bit too much like work matching renderings, lol, so I pretend that it's a second prototype, to test different trim etc. I'll add it to the post. But i might take it down again in a few days, it's not my fave!

  5. on second thought, i really dislike it. here's a link. it's pretty amateurish looking. i think i gave up halfway through. it looks like i added wraparound taillights for some reason. actually I just should have said ''no" i didn't do a front, lololol.

  6. The Bel Air is interesting. (My parents' first second car was a '65 sedan with a 283 and Powerglide, but no rear seat belts, which meant my brother and I shared the front passenger seat belt, so that we could splatter our faces on the metal dashboard had my father hit anything. I recognize the two-per-side taillights because Impalas of the day had three per side.) Might be a little too much C pillar, but your opinion may vary.

  7. It killed me when Chevy brought back the Impala in the early 2000s and only used TWO taillights per side. It was such a mistake of history. I could see them using one large taillight to modernize it, but not two, that was just wrong. The latest Impala is cleanly styled, but I really think it could have been much better. The Impalas of the '60s were always so special. Even after they brought out the Caprice, the Impala was always well-trimmed and decorated and great looking. We were a "Ford" family, but we always knew people with Impalas and Malibus.

    For my Bel AIr I was going for the tunnelback rooflines of the '66 and '67 GM intermediates, keeping it in the GM family...

  8. Ok, those designs are awesome. I wonder if you have the blueprints, I could do a 3dsmax model out of them if you want. As I commented in another thread of Tbirds that it would be nice to make a car kit, I think it may be possible to do so with a good CNC router and bodywork such as fiberglass, but I have no idea where to start here. But a 3D model would be helpful to visualize and perhaps a body work shop may be able to replicate the parts needed.

  9. No blueprints exist... I just us Photoshop to modify press photos, or wallpapers, into the cars I'd like to see on the road. thanks, though!