Sunday, June 9, 2013

CHOPiT! Get Kustomized!

I am not a car guy.  I have always appreciated the beauty of well-designed automobiles but, because my brain is not what one would call "mechanical," I have always felt completely ignorant when it comes to the finer points of the modern combustion engine, makes/models, and the great debate of stock vs. custom.  I just felt safer keeping my big trap shut and my interests elsewhere.  Don't get me wrong; I have been to more than my fair share of car shows but I never graduated from the "That looks so cool" school of auto appreciation.  Making friends with the fine folks at Chopit Kustom Hot Rods, I am not only learning a little something about cars, I am developing a more genuine interest in car culture.

On June 1, Chopit Kustom threw an open house/car show and we were privileged to get a full tour of the shop by the Chopit kids (and our pals), Nick and Fabian.  I am at a loss for any kind of proper camera right now so I caught just a few snaps of the day.

Nick & Mary

Fabian oversees Mary as she tests out the beautifully-grilled Chopit roadster.
If you see Mary, don't mention it to her that her legs were too long to fit
 on the driver's side...she's pretty sensitive about it and doesn't want anyone
to know.  For some reason she thought that if she fit, the car would be hers...

Do, however, remind her to follow instructions and read signs.
She practically created a crime scene's worth of finger prints on this one.

Jet Age hood ornament

A small fraction of the model car collection

Why is that new cars don't have after market propellors readily available?
It's a crying shame!

Dig that crazy headliner!!!
This will sound totally inappropriate but doesn't it seem like one would eventually
have to spend a good amount of time combing dingleberries out of that shag???

I appreciate the sentiment; if I found a car that I truly loved, I would never want to sell it.

And then there was the star of the show Chopit Kustom's very own Beatnik Bubbletop.  Built by Gary "Chopit" Fioto, the Beatnik Bubbletop captures the essence of every aspect of mid-century car culture - the high-end concept cars, the low brow "kustomization" of ingenious builders, the freedom of untamed hot rods.  Belonging now to Barry Weiss of Storage Wars fame, this feat of mechanical and design genius makes the rounds at all the biggest car shows.

I don't know how they dream all of this stuff up; I wish my dreams were this cool!

I guess that we fawned over it enough that we were invited for (read: practically strong armed ourselves into) a ride in the Beatnik Bubbletop.  The perfect opportunity for a ride arose in the Legend of Kustoms Cruise Night at Bog's Big Boy Broiler in Downey, CA.

What does one wear when riding inside a bubble?  It took me a fair amount of time to convince Mary that her idea of dressing like Glinda the Good Witch would be entirely inappropriate.  We decided to wear something relatively cool (temperature wise) because it seemed to me that riding in a bubbletop car would be akin to being an ant under a magnifying glass. 

Boy was I wrong!  Except for my noggin being a little close to the bubble, riding in this car had all the comforts of a luxury automobile.  Fully-functioning air conditioning keeps everything cool under a dome that is on record as the world's largest blown-glass bubble!

Nick & Mary in the Beatnik Bubbletop
I wasn't even in the car yet, but just to see it going down the street made me feel, if only for a
second, all of the optimism and wonder that mid-century concept car designers must have felt.

And I wasn't alone.  As you can imagine, the Beatnik Bubbletop is the
subject of much admiration.  It was hilarious to see all of the rubbernecking,
scrambling for cameras/phones, and near accidents caused by this car's very presence.
  Turnabout only seemed fair play so I snapped a photo of someone snapping our photo.

Chopit & Mary
All the freedom and visibility of a convertible without
the annoyance of lost porkpies and windblown hair.

A short video of our arrival at the Broiler.
Not my best camera work (which isn't saying much)
but if you have ears particularly sensitive to strong 
language, you might want to mute the sound.  HA! 

Mr. Tiny tries to out bubble top the

The Beatnik Bubbletop after hours
The interior adopts a violet glow.

Got a light?

I think I have been converted.  Ever a late bloomer, I can now truly see the allure of automobiles (classic, kustom, and otherwise).  I am so grateful to the whole Chopit gang for giving me the otherworldly opportunity of riding in the Beatnik Bubbletop; it is as close to riding in a spaceship as I'll ever get!

Plus it is the only time in my life when I can earnestly and thankfully say,
"Been there, done that, got the t-shirt."  Thanks a million!!!

Mr. Tiny & Mary make like Elroy & Judy Jetson


Mr. Tiny

p.s. Don't be too concerned if things are a little quiet on the wacky tacky front for the next couple of weeks.  Mr. Tiny will be, to borrow a phrase from his sister, losing his "West Virginity."  My sister, brother-in-law, and the cutest nephew in the world have left Southern California for all of the wonder of Appalachia.  I have never been to that part of the country so I am excited to explore and broaden my wacky tacky horizons.  I'm going HILLBILLY!!!!  I might have some time for blogging while I am gone...but I'd rather be on an adventure!!!  See you when I get back!


  1. It was actually the cars that got me into the rockabilly/vintage lifestyle.

    Be careful though, they're like puppies, the cars will follow you home and you'll end up with a yard full. (Or maybe it's just me, I've yet to sell one, lol. I just add new ones.)

    Have a safe trip :)

    1. I know, I am surrounded by car people and I'm afraid I'll catch the bug!! Thanks!

  2. Wow! What a great car! And enjoy your West Virginia adventure.

  3. Will miss you! But thanks for the heads'-up; I would have been WORRIED! And have fun!

    1. Thanks! Can't wait to see all that Appalachia has in store!!!

  4. That bubble top car is soooo cool! Does it feel super hot in there when the sun is shining? Love that last pic of you and Mary at the Drive-In! You two are too cool for school! :)

    1. No, it is surprisingly cool. Deceptively cool really because Mary got some sun but didn't notice because the air conditioning kept it so cool. Also, the bubble can open partially so there is fresh air too! I'm not sure what school, but we are definitely not that cool...hahahahaha!!!

  5. THAT BUBBLE TOP IS KILLING ME. Hey, if you're headin' west of the Mississippi, you ought to make a pit stop here in Sunny Tennessee! I know three blog girls who would be happy to meetcha!

    1. heck yes! do it! come see us!
      also, i'm with you on the car front. i can say "wow how pretty!" but don't know much about what is really going on. that bubble top is killing it though! how lucky that you got to go for a ride!

    2. I have never felt as cool as when we were riding in the Beatnik Bubbletop, I tell ya! I just got into West Virginia today. I am at the mercy of my family but it would be awesome to hang with my favorite Nashvillians or maybe "Nashvillains." I'll see if I can put southwestward bug in their ear!!!

  6. Oh man... that car is INCREDIBLE. You live the life, Mr. Tiny. I need to start following your lead!

    1. Isn't it crazy?!?!?!? I don't know how it happens but we just end up surrounding ourselves with really cool, talented people. Just lucky, I guess..but very appreciative too!!! You're welcome to join in on the fun whenever you guys are in town!

  7. This post got me hankering' for the kool kustom (k)stuff I want to do to my sweet sweet bike!!! I am dying to find a pinstriper in London!!! Maybe when I will just have to bring my seat (and my bike seat - wink wink) and helmet to LA and get it done on holiday!

    1. We're just lousy with amazingly-talented kustom kulture (k)artists around here. Although I'm sure London has its fair share too!!! Maybe we need to do some sort of cultural exchange program and you and I could switch place, what do you think???

    2. Done and done... Though not sure how handy I will be at making amazing dresses as you do. But you know what, I hear burlap sacks and telephone cord are coming back in a big way!