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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Is This Ford Bubbletop a Custom Car or Jetson’s Spaceship?



If you could distill the styling mindset of the 1950s into one super-concentrated formula, this would be it. It’s known as the “Beatnik,” a custom car sliced together by the aptly named Gary “Chopit” Fioto, and it comes replete with iconic tail fins, gargantuan proportions, vintage-futuristic lines, and of course–the oh-so-retro bubbletop. 
Over the years, Fioto’s creations have earned him much praise in the car-chopping community, but perhaps none more than the Beatnik, which won the grand prize at the 2006 National Rod and Custom Car Show in Tusla, Oklahoma. It’s not exactly hard to see why.

It’s also not hard to imagine why Auctions America estimates this car could bring upwards of $250,000 when it crosses the auction block in Santa Monica, California on July 18.


Though it’s hard to tell now, the Beatnik bubbletop began life as a 1955 Ford, of which Fioto quickly chopped the top. Over the course of four years, that Ford base was melded together with a styling grab bag of Cadillac, Chrysler, and Lincoln body parts. Clearly styling trumps automaker allegiances here.

The front bumper? That came modified from a ’59 Cadillac. The rear bumper? That was hewn from the front of a ’58 Caddy. The rear fins are said to be from a 1960 Chrysler, while the rest of its body is pulled together with hand-formed steel, dressed in a rich lavender paint, and powered by a shimmering small block Chevrolet V8. Bits of ’55 Ford are still noticeable inside the doors and beneath the trunk lid, but today the Beatnik sits atop the running gear of a 1988 Lincoln Town Car.


Fioto explained his build process to Auctions America, “I don’t always know what I’ll do when I start, but I can see the result as I’m working.” In comments made to Street Rodder magazine, he noted, “Whatever makes the car look good is what I go for–it’s got to look like it’s moving, even when standing still.”

Inside the bubbletop lies a stunning pearlescent interior, which reveals an aero-themed steering wheel, radical space age speedometer cluster, and crucially–air conditioning. Bubbletops tend to create a greenhouse effect, though this one–inside and out–is chillingly cool.

Photo Credit: Patrick Ernzen