— story by Jason Fogelson, photo by Edmund Jenks
Thanks to some prodding from their publicists at JMPR (headed by MPG member Joe Molina), the Foose team opened their doors to the MPG membership in the afternoon on March 31. Chip Foose himself hosted a shop tour, walking us around the tight industrial quarters. Mr. Foose was extremely generous with his time, answering questions, posing for endless photos, and giving us an insider’s look at current projects while hinting at new ones. If you’ve ever watched Mr. Foose on television, you’ll be happy to know that he is just the same in person as he is on the screen – friendly, open, generous and kind. There’s just no artifice in play here, and that’s wonderfully refreshing. And the same goes for the people who surround him. Foose Designs is a 12-person shop, and everyone we met shared the same authentic qualities.
Seeing the cars at Foose was very cool. From the famous Hemisfear roadster to dad Sam’s Ford to Mr. Foose’s 1956 Ford pickup, the shop could function as a museum as easily as it works as a hot rod outfit. But as a working shop, it is even more impressive, especially when you get to see the cars in process.
Foose Design is also a window into Mr. Foose’s mind. A very impressive collection of vintage bicycles can be discovered scattered throughout the shop, mostly hanging or mounted overhead. A few motorcycles, including a 1914 Indian and a Whizzer from the 1960s, have snuck in as well. Display cases full of die cast models decorate the showroom, and there are dozens of vintage signs hanging throughout the shop. A lovely conference room/library adds a comfy men’s club feel.
My favorite icon in the shop (besides Mr. Foose himself) was last year’s Ridler Award-winning 1965 Chevy Impala, resting in the shop between tour stops. It is gorgeous in photos, and even more impressive in person. Modded from a sedan to a coupe and wedded to a C7 Corvette chassis and electronics, the Imposter (as it is named) is beautifully proportioned and exquisitely finished. Even more impressive, the Ridler trophy was on hand as well. It’s a very cool abstract sculpture that stands about 24” tall on a 1’ x 2’ rectangular base. The trophy is lovely, and shockingly heavy – it weighs about 80 pounds, which adds to the allure.
A big thanks to Mr. Foose and everyone at Foose Designs, and to JMPR for making it all happen. It was a great experience, made all the better by sharing it with MPG members.