Hollywood Hot Rods- How To Chop a Mercury with help from Eastwood

By Jim Aust/Hollywood Hot Rods

Every since the first sleek new 1949 Mercury hit the street crafty restylers have lusted after examples with the roof a bit lower than the factory offerings. Sam Barris was among the first to chop his own personal Mercury, and the process would be repeated thousands of times over the next seven decades. Just as the word “custom” implies, personally designed customs each have a unique style and equally unique method of creation.

The guys at Hollywood Hot Rods have built a series of much loved custom vehicles so it’s only natural that they would have chopped a few Mercury’s along the way. Refining the process to a science, Hollywood Hot Rods get the job done lowering a lid on a Mercury (or any vehicle) with the help of various tools from The Eastwood Company. For this demonstration an Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to get a few of the vital steps in the process completed. Follow along as Hollywood Hot Rods shows how they lowered a roof on this 1951 Mercury.

Chopping the top on a Mercury is so popular at Hollywood Hot Rods that they have to wait in line for their turn under the knife.

The easy part is removing the top, the tough part is putting it back on correctly.

After lowering the roof the desired amount, the corners of the windows now require reworking to close up the gaps created in the process.

This view shows the great deal of work that will be necessary to reshape the rear corners of the quarter windows.

The first step is to trim out the rear corners so that new corners can be fitted in place.

To fill the corners small strips of sheet metal are cut and folded 90-degees in a sheet metal brake.

Next up the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher is used to shrink one edge of the custom new pieces to replicate the look of the factory corners in the newly required radiuses.

The newly fabricated pieces are carefully fit into in the trimmed out window corners.

The new window corners are tacked in place and checked again for proper placement before final welding is completed.

Once the final welding is finished the corners are shaped with a die grinder equipped with a barrel drum sanding head.

On this particular chop the decision was made to round-off the upper rear door corners rather than retain the square factory style corners.

Rather than cut the original door corners into multiple pieces, Hollywood Hot Rods prefers to create new sweeping corner from fresh sheet metal.

Repeating the earlier process, new inner door corners are made with the Eastwood Shrinker/Stretcher. Once the new door corners are in place they are welded and smoothed the same way as the window corners.

Just a few steps transformed this Mercury from a stocker to show stopper! Hit the Hollywood Hot Rods Website to see more of their work, enlist their services, or buy some sweet HHR gear!


  1. Thank you for the pictures / story (am doing a 49 4 door (4″ chop)) and it’s always good to see what the pro’s are doing. Currently I am developing my gas welding skill , welding all the extra holes in the frame shut (Boxing) before I finish butt welding the roof.

  2. Very cool. I don’t think I have the cajones to chop a top. I’m doing a resto on a ’59 Ford pickup, and a mild chop would maybe look pretty cool, but I want to do all the work myself and I wouldn’t dare to chop it. I do envy the guys who can do it!! What is cooler than a chopped ’49/ ’50 era Merc? Maybe a chopped open wheel Deuce, but that’s about it.

  3. I have done many many things over the past 65 years, but a Merc chop top isn’t one, but enjoyed this.

    Thank You,


  4. very nice project….the window opens stay the same as before or do you have the glass specially made? or dimensions from a glass maker?

  5. I find it very interesting and am amazed to think about Baris and those early artists who would even attempt to do this work on a car. Very difficult, and these guys at Hollywood make it look like just another day at the office.
    I can’t imagine what might have happened if early on, one of the first pioneers of this process attempted this on their wife’s new car, and messed it up! Talk about courage!

  6. Thanks for sharing it ! I’ve never chop a roof before, and will soon do a 1950 Studebaker Pickup . Also I will use my new tools from you. Wish I had the tools earlier when I did the 1935 Studebaker Roadster body repairs .
    Kind Regards , South Africa. Erens

  7. its great to still see that the mercurys are still the most beautifull looking cars when chopped ,i have chopped a few in my 50 years of owning a shop and still love the work ,but most of all to see that the workmanship these days is outstanding the quality has improved so much but i still love my old little smith torches they do a very fine job too. i guess im an old style builder but my heart is there the new generation is a joy to see ..

  8. Very nice, doing a 54 1/2 ton chevy truck, but wouldn’t even attempt something like this…
    Would take more than one person.
    Where do you find a rear window for that thing now??

  9. Do you have pics of your chop? I also have a 4 Dr 49. That I’ll be cutting in the future. Would like to see what you have done.

  10. these guys make it look pretty easy, very professional.
    When I get around to chopping the top on my ’37 PU, the Eastwood shrinker/stretcher I bought on the weekend will come in handy. wont have to borrow one anymore!

  11. Ron covell has a video DVD on how to chop and section a pickup. The example or truck they use is a 56 studebaker pickup. You might want to check that out. Ron covell is a master metal worker in the US.

  12. I also have a 4 door 49 and am wanting to chop also. Do you have pics of your that I could see? Thank

  13. The rear glass stays the same it is “layed down”, it is temperd and cant be cut.
    The side glass is flat and is easy to re-make.

  14. Pure craftsmanship and vision not to mention experience. I hate to think of how many cars have been destroyed by the guy with a vision but no skills or equipment and the big one MONEY to follow through. A sheet of metal doesn’t cost much but a windshield and side glass along with interior pieces to be made will

  15. Chopped my 46Hudson coupe 2 inches looks great first time it takes two persons to do it

  16. I have a 51 Merc, had the top chopped by John Kouw of Cruisin Customs, Holland, MI. I used a 50 Merc rear window instead of the 51. I have a 51 rear window glass if anyone is interested. I agree a custom merc is the ultimate!!, Don

  17. If it is a car with flat glass any good glass shop can cut glass to match you’re new, smaller opening.

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