Owned by comedian and actor Christopher Titus, one of Hollywood’s true diehard hot rodders, this ’56 was created by Foose design. Chip and his dad, Sam, massaged virtually every panel to match Chip’s concept sketch. The TV Show “Rides” covered the build at Foose Design, and again covered the car as it went on the Hot Rod Power Tour in 2004. This is a rare opportunity to own a hand-built car by Chip Foose. Sold on a Bill of Sale. Comes with a title in Christopher Titus’ name. Buyer takes full responsibility to comply with registration requirements in their state, due to original VIN being lost during restoration. (Introductory description courtesy of Barrett-Jackson.)  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1956 Chevrolet Foose Custom Roadster
Number Produced:One
Original List Price:Chevrolet did not make a Model 210 convertible in 1956; but a ’56 Bel Air convertible with standard shift was $2,344
SCM Valuation:$165,000 on this day
Tune Up Cost:$300
Chassis Number Location:N/A
Engine Number Location:Pad on front of the block under the passenger’s side head
Club Info:Goodguys, NSRA
Alternatives:Boyd Coddington-built custom, John D’Agostino-built custom, Rick Dore-built custom
Investment Grade:B (But you’ll have to wait a few decades)

This 1956 Chevrolet 210 Custom Foose Roadster, Lot 659.1, sold for $165,000, including buyer’s premium, at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas on September 20–22, 2012.

At first glance, $165,000 seems like a lot of money for a ’56 Chevrolet convertible. But it probably represents about one-third of the cost of building this one-off custom. When you commission Ridler Award and multiple Grand National Roadster Show AMBR trophy-winning builder and television personality Chip Foose to build your personal custom creation, you’d better have a blank check ready to go.

Foose is one of the hot-rod world’s genuinely nice guys. He’s an immensely talented, hands-on professional designer and builder, and his popular Velocity Channel TV show, “Overhaulin’,” which returned in late 2012, is a must-watch for a legion of enthusiasts.

Chip’s dad, Sam Foose, is an acknowledged custom-car craftsman, and he taught Chip the arts of welding, painting and metal finishing and mechanical work. Chip then attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and became a full-fledged automobile designer and consultant.

Chip Foose’s résumé includes a stint with the late Boyd Coddington, where he was responsible for numerous game-changing designs. In 1997, Foose became the youngest person ever inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame. Versatile, quick, and blessed with great taste, Foose’s designs repeatedly launch the commonplace into a new realm of modern sophistication.

The Titus ’56

That’s certainly the case with this 1956 Chevy roadster. The client was Christopher Titus, who starred in his own TV sitcom of the same name.

The 210 began life as a two-door Chevy 210 coupe that Titus acquired when he was 19 years old. He’d updated and customized the car, but the old Chevy project really hit the big-time when Titus got his own TV show. That’s when he commissioned Chip Foose to build it into his dream car.

From 210 to Once a Knight

The Fooses, father and son, had Darryl Schroeder fabricate a custom tubular chassis with independent suspension from a C5 Corvette. The ’56’s stock 265-ci small block was yanked in favor of a GM Performance Parts fuel-injected RamJet 350-ci V8, with a custom intake manifold cover that artfully conceals the induction system. The running gear includes a T56 6-speed manual gearbox, enormous Baer ventilated disc brakes, Aldan coilover shocks and a Dutchman rear end. Those unique 20-inch custom five-spoke alloy polished rims (eight-inch in the front and 10-inch in the rear) were of course a Foose creation, (Chip calls them “Knight” wheels), and the Chevy’s wheelwells had to be hollowed out substantially to accept them.

Just about every interior and exterior panel on this car was massaged and not-so-subtly reshaped; the dash, console, the Cobra seats and interior fittings are all custom-built, and the original ’56 Chevy steering wheel was cut down and received a snappy new hub. The headlights were extended, frenched, and garnished with Ford F-100 trim rings; the windshield is also a Ford item, cut down and slanted rearward for a lower, racier silhouette. The paint was done by Mitch Lanzini of Lanzini Body Works, and the upholstery was done by Gabe Lopez.

Add a custom aluminum removable top, and a hand-formed alloy tonneau cover, Jaguar door handles, lengthened rear quarter panels, and custom LED taillights, and ka-ching! You’ve got a totally reworked Tri-Five Chevy (and a totally overhauled bank account). Titus called his car “Once a Knight.”

On with the show

I’m not sure, given this car’s history, why Titus was willing to sell it, unless he simply tired of it, or wanted to raise some cash for something else. Before appearing here, it crossed the block at RM’s Monterey auction in August 2006 but was unsold at $230,000 against an estimate of $300k to $350k.

To Christopher Titus’ credit, he drove his Foose custom Chevy cross-country on the Hot Rod Power Tour, showed it a few times, and seems to have really enjoyed using it.

From a buyer’s perspective, I don’t think you could even begin to build this car for $165k — not with both Fooses, Lanzini and Lopez doing the honors. For the seller, recouping part of his investment is always nice, and he’ll just have to chalk up the difference as a payment for all the great times he had in the car.

Value in the custom world

With the exception of the Larry Erickson-designed, Boyd Coddington-built “Chezoom” and “CadZZilla” show cars, (which are not presently for sale), I can’t think of a contemporary 21st century custom that would sell for more today than it cost to build. That’s just how the market is these days, and exceptions to the rule are rare.

But we do see a pretty wide range of prices on custom cars done to high levels. Need proof? All you have to do is compare this car with the $275k ’68 Ford Mustang “Boss” from this same Barrett-Jackson sale, profiled on p. 48.

Just like with any segment of the market, there is no crystal ball on how a car will do at any given auction. But connections to big names such as Foose tend to help boost resale values. At the end of the day, it all comes down to who is in the room when the car crosses the auction block, and what those bidders are willing to spend to make someone else’s dream their own. On this day, for this car, the number was $165k.

This ’56 is no longer eligible for the Ridler award, or the annual Custom Rod of the Year trophy from Goodguys. But driving this Foose-built ’56 will make the new owner the star of any local show. All things considered, the money spent here was a small price to pay for the privilege.&nbsp

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