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Car Show Lingo: Chopped, Channeled and Sectioned

February 3, 2011

When attending car shows that feature customized cars, modified, hot rods, rat rods, lead sleds, mini-truck or any variety of vehicles you will often hear lingo which seems out-of-place.  Why are they talking about pork (chop), television (channel), or sectioning?  The words chop, channel and sectioning refer to body modifications which require a lot of skill, forethought and patience to accomplish.  These concepts and techniques are not for the faint of heart!  There are a lot of considerations to be made, and unless you are a truly skilled cutter, welder and body person it may be better to just appreciate the work performed.

Chopping and Chop-Tops

Chopping a car refers to chopping (or cutting) a section of the window pillars from the front a car to reduce the front surface against the wind.  The builder would remove the windshield, cut anywhere from a few to several inches from the pillars between the doors and windshield, then weld the remaining pillar sections together.  The car would then need a custom windshield, and side windows.  The doors would then have to be adjusted to fit the new roofline, cutting sections of doors which had frames that surrounded the glass.  Quite often the chop would also require modifications to the rear pillars between the doors and the back window, cutting a wedge to allow the roof to bend down to its new line.  Often you will see a car where only the front pillars are cut and door adjusted, the roof would then slope from the original height in the rear to the new lower height  in the front, with a definite ridge where the roof was ‘bent’ to fit.

This process takes on two appeals in the customizing world; first it visually reduces the front of the vehicle above the hood line, and originally more importantly it reduces the wind resistance.  The father of chop-tops is considered by many to be Sam Barris, brother to the famed customizer George Barris.  Sam chopped the front pillars of his brand-new 1949 Mercury and started a craze.

The first group of builders to truly embrace the concept of chop-tops was the salt flats racers, because the shorter windshield and sloped roofline would reduce wind resistance, and increase the speed of the autos as they ran. Many times the top would be chopped to such a degree that only a few inches of windshield would remain, these were known as ‘mail slot windshields’.  Drag racers soon embraced the concept to increase their speeds.

Chopped and Channeled Rat Rod as seen at York NSRA East


Channeling refers to altering the floor pan of the vehicle so the entire body rides lower, without changing the frame or suspension of the vehicle.  With the lower body lines the car often took on a beefier appearance. In order the lower the body of the car, it was removed from the frame and the floor pan is cut out, then re-fastened so that it rides higher in the body.  Many hot rods  and custom cars are channeled.  Channeling is also popular in the mini-truck culture.


Sectioning refers to cutting the body either horizontally or vertically to remove a section or increase a section.  The most common result of removing a section would be to make the car shorter from the bottom of the body to the top of the roof, or in less common situations removing some of the length of the body (this generally entails shortening the frame and adjusting the drive train).

SectioningSectioning also allows for the lengthening of the body by inserting new metal into the desired area (also requiring modifications in framework and drive train), or in far less common situations adding to the height of the auto.

A couple of great resources on the subject:

Do It Yourself Hot Rod Kustom Website

Jalopy Journal

Everything 2: Chopped and Channeled Sectioning Body Basics

Ron Yeager's limo was sectioned, by adding a section the length of a door, between the front and back doors.

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