A custom car is a car that has undergone a variety of modifications. These changes can involve the car's performance, such as replacing its transmission. Alterations can also focus on the car's look, such as adding a design to the paint.
The custom car culture began in the garages and shops of southern California in the US in the mid 1950s. Terms such as tail draggers and lead sleds soon became familiar with people all over the United States. As the custom car craze spread, modifications began appearing on vehicles all around the world.
One of the first popular steps in creating a custom car was to lower the entire chassis. Termed low-riders, the pavement-scraping automobiles cruised city squares and occupied parking stalls at local drive-ins all while drawing attention to their owners. Paint became the second component many custom car buffs altered. From classic "candy" paint jobs to flames and scallops, the customs showcased their owners' imaginations. The only limit to the amount of customization found on a custom car was linked to the owner's pocket book.
The custom culture was in full swing in the 1960s as the practice of chopping tops and sectioning bodies began to occur. Chopping a top involves cutting metal out of the roof pillars and lowering the roof of the vehicle down. This is thought to create a sleeker appearance.
The sectioning of a body is more involved and subsequently more expensive. To section a custom car body, the entire car body has a predetermined amount of metal cut from the perimeter of the body. Once the cut is achieved, the top half of the body is lowered to sit on the bottom section, and it is then welded back together. This is perhaps the most involved and time-consuming practice in customizing cars. Chopping and sectioning are thought to bring custom cars to the next level.
Most of the customs found cruising any given city around the world have more money spent on the customization than the actual vehicle purchase. As the customization became more and more intricate and gold plating began to replace chrome, many areas formed custom car clubs. The clubs stage shows where members can show their vehicles. The shows began to attract more and more curious onlookers, and the sizes of the shows increased. Many of the custom car owners display their car club name and city on plaques suspended from the rear bumper of their cars.