Everyone who has anything to do with cars happens to know who Chip Foose is. The man is a master when it comes to car customization, and his creativity, attention to detail, and the beautiful projects he creates are famous all over the world. It was his reality TV series Overhaulin’ that truly shot him into the spotlight, with every gearhead being hooked onto his show, watching eagerly as he turned cars into something beyond just four wheels and a body.
Hugely talented and consequently popular, Chip Foose came from mild hardships to become one of the most revered automobile designers across the globe. While many might wrongly assume that the TV show star’s life is nothing but cars and creative designs, the celebrity is a lot more complex than just that.
A rare talent in an extremely artistic, competitive, and subjective genre, Chip Foose has truly managed to cement his name into the history books with his rare designs, his brilliant creativity, and superb craftsmanship. Having started as a minor employee at his dad’s firm, Chip Foose’s rise to popularity, and ultimately becoming the ultra-successful CEO of his enterprise, here’s what everyone forgot about Chip Foose.
10 He’s Been Working On Cars Since He Was A Toddler
Chip Foose was, quite literally, born into the design, as the first three years of his life were spent with his father Sam Foose at AMT, where his old man worked on building show cars. It was almost as if his career path was written before he came.
Subsequently, Foose followed his father to his other job as well, where the latter built safety car prototypes for the government. By the time Chip was just a 7-year-old toddler, he began working at his father’s company ‘Project Design’, where he did bodywork and paintwork.
9 He Was A College Dropout
If you’re looking to make a case for yourself with examples of college dropouts who went out to achieve greatness later, here’s another addition right beside Mr. Jobs. However, when Chip Foose dropped out of the Art Center College of Design in California back in 1984, it wasn’t out of chance, but rather a lack of funds.
It was former Ford and Tucker designer Alex Tremulis who had encouraged Foose to go to college, but he had to cease his time at the college after two years when he couldn’t support his studies financially. Foose instead ended up taking a job at Stehrenberger-Clenet Design, where he stayed for four years.
8 Overhaulin’ Wasn’t His First Rodeo In The Automotive World
While one could be forgiven for thinking it was Overhaulin’ that was Foose’s venture into the TV world, it wasn’t. The legendary designer first delved into the world of television in 2003, a year before Overhaulin’ first aired, on TLC.
When the network ran a documentary on the revamp process and redesign of a Ford Thunderbird, it was Chip Foose who had featured in the feature. No doubt, it was Overhaulin’ that brought Chip his massive success and fame, but it wasn’t his first time on the telly, which showed through as the man never seemed nervous and was always in command of the room even with several cameras planted on him.
7 He Designed His First Car at Just Twelve
By the time Chip was just seven years of age, he had already begun helping out at his father’s company with bodywork and paintwork, earning 17 cents an hour. While still a young kid, at the age of twelve itself, Chip Foose went deeper into the world of automotive design as his father showed him the ropes.
With five years of experience in the industry by the time he was merely a 12-year-old kid, Chip sketched out his first design, which was a Porsche 356. By that time, it was clear that Chip truly had a natural talent for the stuff.
6 Overhaulin’s Tough Schedule Burned Him Out
Overhaulin’ truly became an iconic show over its time, bringing a huge number of entrants into the world of automotive design and inspiring gearheads. Foose, too, has the show to thank for his success and fame. However, it wasn’t all roses for Chip, as he later shared how the show burnt him out.
Chip shared how working on one car per week and completing 29 cars in nine months ended up costing him a lot of his sleep over the first five years of filming. Thus, by the end of season three, Chip already felt completely burnt out. He further shared how his ideal timeline would be around three weeks to finish each car, which is also what he would want if he ever were to do the show again.
5 His Father Was His Biggest Inspiration
Sam Foose, Chip’s father, is who Chip credits as his main source of inspiration when it comes to his passion for cars, as well as his intense work ethic. Having grown up around cars as his father ran a body shop, it was Sam who encouraged Chip throughout his years, so much so that he even hired and paid him at seven, and allowed him to paint a Porsche 356 by himself by 12.
Foose himself stated how he considers his own career an extension of his father’s. While he did make a lot of mistakes as a kid, his father remained tender towards him, encouraging him to keep going. The man Chip Foose is today is in large part because of his father who told him to never stop dreaming.
4 He Designed ‘Eleanor’ From Gone In Sixty Seconds
Who doesn’t recognize this car? This is one project Chip Foose worked on that can be recognized by anyone all over the world. In 1986, when Chip worked full-time at Asha Corporation as a fabrication and graphic designer, his vision was a rather modern one, using graphics to steer automotive developments.
In return, Asha Corporation, too, trusted his work and instincts, relying on him for fabricating new company prototype models. One of the most memorable hero cars ever, and the one Chip worked on, was the iconic ‘Eleanor’ car from Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie’s Gone In 60 Seconds. The car used for the remake was a Shelby Mustang GT500.
3 He Loves Being Philanthropic
Chip Foose is known to be quite the philanthropist, and his investment in charity came from personal, life-changing moments. The loss of his youngest sister Amy passed away, as she suffered from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome. She died at the age of 16, which led to Foose donating to several children’s charities focusing on research over the years.
Chip is also the vice-chairman of California’s Progeria Research Foundation’s branch. Other charities he is involved in are the Victory Junction Gang Camp and Childhelp. Moreover, some of the revamped vehicles he produced with the Overhaulin’ crew were also auctioned off to raise charitable funds.
2 His Wife Made Him Return To College
After he dropped out of the Art Center College of Design, Foose had taken up several jobs, wherein he worked for his dad or drew illustrations for magazines, and he even freelanced at Stehrenberger-Clenet Design. He began making such good money that even though he had dropped out owing to financial constraints, he chose not to go back.
However, his girlfriend at the time, who is today his wife Lynn Foose, told him that she wouldn’t marry him unless he went back to college to complete his studies and finish his degree. Thus, Foose finally graduated from college in 1990 with honors, and he has his wife and business partner to thank for it.
1 GM, Chrysler, And Ford Consult Foose
That’s right. The ‘Big 3’ consult none other than Chip Foose when it comes to auto design. While we have seen him work on some phenomenal builds, his humility lies in the way he hasn’t taken credit for the fabrication of some truly great mass-production cars as well, since the Big 3—GM, Chrysler, and Ford consult Chip owing to his immense talent.
Consequently, some automotive analysts have suggested that Ford’s Mustang, their Forty-Nine, and the Sport Trac concepts definitely give off a signature Chip Foose vibe. Most remarkably, the award-winning Mercury-powered ’34 Stallion that Ron Whiteside showed off was also built by Foose. Foose even saw his creations be fully realized when Ford re-engineered the Thunderbird according to his designs and birthed the concept dubbed the ‘Speedbird’.