Terms From the Garage: Sectioning
An explanation of a much used custom car phrase.
(left) a stock '50 Ford coupe. (right) Ron Dunn's sectioned '50 Ford coupe. Photo Courtesy of: Kustomrama.com
This custom trick is the most extreme way of lowering the overall height of a car. Unlike channeling a cars body over the frame this process requires a strip of metal be removed from the body of the car. This necessitates the rewelding of major body seams. The re-welding process can be masked in a number of ways, including welding underneath where stainless of chrome body trim will be reattached. The doors of the car can usually be cut off at the bottom, as long as all body lines will line back up. If that's not the case then the doors will have to be split and rewelded. In addition to the exterior of the body being reworked the inner body structure will also have to be addressed. Fenders, hoods, grilles and trunk lids will have to be altered as well. Sectioning a car is a very drastic procedure and should not be performed by back yard DIYers.
Above a description taken from a model car kit about how to section a kit car. Photo Courtesy of: ATM model cars.
Since this is such a specialized form of work the secrets of how to perform it are relatively well guarded by those that can do them. I have been unable to find good quality pictures of the process being carried out. In fact, the above picture, that was taken from a very old model car kit I had as a kid, has been all I could locate. This is one of the few tasks I've found that isn't even covered in early Rod & Custom magazines. The underlying message is: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME, KIDS!
A sectioned 1947 Cadillac Coupe. Photo Courtesy of: Hemmings Motor News
The sectioning of cars started just like top chopping and channeling: As a way of reducing drag and lowering the center of gravity before the invention of mechanical ways of achieving the same effect. Before a person could go out and buy a dropped front axle and before people had thought much about altering rear suspensions, it was easier to alter sheet metal. Most of the old race cars would have these alterations performed, but wouldn't be welded back. Instead they would be riveted or even bolted back to together. It's odd to think of a time when a welder was a luxury item. Customizers came across these chopped up racers and adopted the look for their creations. The customizers would do it with a little more care for appearances sake!
Above: A sectioned (among other things) 1936 Packard Roadster. The Mulholland Speedster. 2017 AMBR (America's Most Beautiful Roadster) winner at the 68th Grand National Roadster Show, in Pomona, CA.
Sectioning is now reserved for extremely high end builders. I have been chasing Custom cars my entire life (never mind exactly how long that is) and I have only seen three examples in person. The amount of metalworking skill that is required to perform this procedure correctly is amazing. A car that has been sectioned has literally had thousands of hours poured into it. That's a lot of attention on one car!
Major Body Surgery
What do you all think? Crazy Customizers? Think they've totally ruined these cars? Or do you say, "No way, that's what individuality is all about!"? Got a Custom/Hot Rod term you want defined? Tell me your take in the comments! Regardless of your opinion, if you are ever fortunate enough to see one of these beautiful cars, please take a picture and send it to me! So keep that camera handy and Keep on Cruisin'!
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