- A sectioned 1947 Cadillac. Photo Courtesy of: Detroit Autorama

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

(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.

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

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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Comments (12)

  • Quite major surgery this, all to achieve a unique look. Hats off to the brave! Shared this to the D_TRB USA facebook page Chris!

      2 years ago
  • One other thing I've always wondered about. There was a shop in Marshfield Wisconsin I visited some years back. They were known for the traditional or old style bodywork. So a lot of lead was used in the sculpting process. Just wondered if tons of lead are still being used or has it all gone to fiber and Bondo or epoxi type materials?

      2 years ago
    • No man, lead is dead. I've only ever seen two or three old timers that knew how to use it and that was 20+ years ago. I'm sure some high end places might still do the occasional small lead job, but a custom that's totally finished in lead is...

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        2 years ago
  • Is it a dying art or will it continue to be around?

      2 years ago
  • I suspect that there are not a lot of skilled people in the chop business anymore?

      2 years ago
    • You would be surprised the number of top chops that are still performed. Better welders, easy access to materials and YouTube has really helped with chopping tops. Now sectioning is a different story. Not many of them were performed back in...

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        2 years ago
  • All of this makes me cringe a bit. I was born loving stock.

      2 years ago
    • Understandable. It's important to remember that customs, hot rods and street rods are primarily made from heavily mass produced cars. In some cases, it's literally like cutting up a VW Beetle. Not many rare cars get this treatment. If a...

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        2 years ago
    • Saying this does make me feel a bit better.

        2 years ago
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