Chip Foose Works His Magic On A C5 Corvette

Watching any talented individual perform their craft is as dangerous as it is satisfying. Watching their ability to create amazing things with such ease comes as part of the gifting of their talent. But, making it appear so easy can lead those not so blessed into a false sense of ability, thinking they are equally adept. Only then, do we mere mortals find out that what appears so simple goes far beyond striking a few notes or the swipe of a pen or brush.

Chip Foose is one such individual who has a God-given talent to not only draw cars but also visualize conceptual thoughts that go beyond anything ever realized before. Being able to know what works, and why, is just as important as knowing which side of the brush to use. Once that inherent skill combines with a well-honed talent, the production can become a work of art in itself. Watching the maestro seemingly having fun in the process is just the icing on the cake.

Chip not only takes the time to draw his version of the C5, but also explains the process and his thoughts about various design cues he uses.

Hagerty recently filmed a session where car-designer Chip Foose worked his magic on the frumpy, rounded lines of a C5 Corvette and turned it into a modernized version of the fifth-generation sportscar. In a world where many struggle with paint-by-numbers, Chip wistfully uses the same instrument to create both blended lines and sharp corners. The creation seemingly comes into focus from the limited dimensions of a sheet of paper. One commenter humorously, but accurately portrayed Chip Foose as the “Bob Ross of hot rods!” We’d have to agree.

A nod to the Callaway Speedsters, Chip uses the wrap-around, low-slung windshield for his C5 design.

In this video, Chip explains the highlights of the C5 generation and what he would change. While he agrees with many, that the power, performance, and value within the C5 generation is spectacular, he does lament that the rounded body lines of the car make it look dated. He sets out to revamp the car’s exterior while allowing the under-hood components to stand on their own merits.

Designing The Details

Chip begins by explaining that “a great stance and wheels make ANY car look good!” Chip knows a thing or two about designing wheels, but as the overall design of the car is the main focus, he spends his time on the car’s exterior and not on its rolling stock.

Chip also says that he’d ditch the C5’s mirrors and door handles, as they look bulky and out of place. He understands the difference of working with a Corvette as opposed to other cars, due to the ‘Vette’s composite construction instead of metal. While bringing a design to reality is far beyond simply ink and paper, Chip admits that the Corvette’s fiberglass origins make it a natural for modification.

More aggressive gills herald back to the midyear era. Modern wheels and stance bring a contemporary vibe.

There may not be much room in the Foose design for all the historical cues of Corvette, but Chip uses some details such as midyear Corvette gills to make it look a little more aggressive. There’s also a nod to the C4-generation’s Callaway Speedsters, as Chip pulls the low-slung windshield into play for his C5 design, a cue that was also used on the C5 by designer John Cafaro on his Speedster design. He allows that the ultimate design should be left up to the creator, and may come about after several variations, suggesting to, “play around with it and have some fun! Make your own car!”

Tools Of The Trade

Interestingly, performing at such a high level of talent isn’t necessarily limited by the tools you use. Chip effortlessly turns white paper into masterpieces with the simplest of tools. In fact, he concedes that the ballpoint pen he uses for the initial sketch came from a Quality Inn he stayed at a while back! The visual equivalent of Yo-Yo Ma belting out one of Bach’s Cello Suites on a wash-tub bass.

Chip begins with a ballpoint pen he got from a Quality Inn. The most sophisticated tool he used to assist was this guide to get a perfectly-round wheel. We can't ALL be Giotto, right?

The magic really begins when Chip trades in the black ink for varying shades of color. As anyone who has ever tried to draw an apple can attest, it’s the balance between shades that makes the piece come alive. Stickmen don’t do well for composite sketches.

Even when all of the pens and markers are capped, and back in their place, we’re still in awe of how a slick sheet of paper can carry so much content in such an appealing way. More than ink on paper, the blend of strokes and shades combine to make the overall image a work of art. Now, we’re simply left asking the question, how long before someone commissions Chip to make the real thing?

About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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