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Pancaking the Roof on a 1957 Chevy

Pancaking the Roof on a 1957 Chevy

Pancaking roof: Cutting away the roof skin

For many “chopping the top” is the pinnacle of coolness, and proof that you’ve built a real Hotrod or Kustom. As much as I love a good chop, it’s not always what the car needs, and that’s the key (in my opinion) to a perfect build. You should do what the car needs to be the coolest is can be, or as Chip Foose says (I’m paraphrasing): “Build it the way it SHOULD have been originally.”

Sure you can make any car look like it’s been monkeyed with, but why not add to the design instead of just making a spectacle of it, which is why we’re pancaking this roof and NOT chopping it.

Chops really work best with pre-1954 vehicles (depending on the make and model of course) because in 1955 manufacturers went to wrap around windshields and back glass. Post-1954 cars can be chopped but it’s a vastly different procedure and the results are much less elegant. The most commonly chopped cars are the boxy coupes of the 30’s and the big roof cars of the late 40’s and early 50’s.

So what about this 1957?

When I was asked to help with the metalwork on the ’57, the customer wanted to lower the profile without doing anything that would jump out and make the car look modified. We looked at the roof profile and saw that there was more than 3” ABOVE the windshield line which could be flattened or “pancaked,” thus removing the forehead you see on most Tri-Five Chevy’s.

The Procedure:

  • Determine where to remove the crown on the roof – I chose to remove height at the corners while adding flat material to the center of the roof.
  • Carefully lay out cut lines
  • Weld support into windshield and rear glass opening, as well as cross bracing so nothing moves.
  • Cut off roof skin at cut lines
  • Split roof longitudinally and add material by TIG hammer welding
  • Split roof laterally and add material by TIG hammer welding
  • Reposition roof and trim edges
  • Weld roof back in place

When it’s all said and done this, job is nearly as big as a chop. You have to do as much or more welding on the roof skin, you just don’t need to modify the pillars. The roof profile is subtle, but it’s more than 1.5” lower at the crown with a more sleek profile.

Looking for a Custom Car Builder in the Midwest?

If you have questions, ideas or would like a quote for a pancaked roof, custom frame, full build or chopped top? Please feel free to email me any time with the contact form on the sidebar. I will gladly quote full builds or complex one-off parts to assist you in your build. I’m here to help, so lets go!
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