One-of-Five Chip Foose Hemisfear Hot Rod Targets $350,000 at Auction

It's hard to find in the very diverse custom car world a name as revered as that of Chip Foose. Made famous globally by a TV series, despite his designs being targeted especially at the American market, the man is behind some of the most insane custom car projects that have come to light in recent years.
Chip Foose Hemisfear 15 photos
Photo: Mecum
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From Vintage Bel Airs to Jaguar E-Types and anything in between, there's little Foose hasn't done during his long career. Yet of all his projects, one stands out perhaps the most: the Hemisfear.

Foose himself describes the project as "the culmination of a 16-year personal dream." The idea popped into the man's head in the early 1990s, when he was still attending the classes of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and was fueled by a Chrysler-sponsored graduation project.

Said project called for the end design to be a weird blend between a supercar, a custom car, and a hot rod. And while we have no idea how that graduation project eventually ended up looking, we do know the Hemisfear seems to have nailed all the requirements.

The design started taking shape soon after the Chrysler dare, but it wasn't until 2005 that work on the actual project began. Using money earned through a diecast toy deal with Japanese company RC2 Corp, Foose designed the crazy hot rod on CAD, then moved to make a digital scale model, and finally milled a full-scale version in foam.

The following year the SEMA show was where Foose showed for the first time not one, but two full-scale Hemisfears. One of them was the pre-production unit, while the other was the first production version of this insane custom build.

Chip Foose Hemisfear
Photo: Mecum
Described by Foose himself as his most renowned vehicle, the Hemisfear proved insane enough to warrant a small production run. In all, only five such cars were made for customers across America, put together by a crew that goes by the name Metalcrafters.

Because a lot of time has passed since 2006, the current whereabouts of these machines are not exactly known. Well, that's not entirely accurate, as we know of at least one of them heading for Indianapolis to go under the hammer a couple of weeks from now.

The Hemisfear in question is the one we have here, the fourth of five made. It's an example that was not only part of the original Foose run, but underwent a refurbishment process, with the designer's approval, back in 2011.

Still looking like a strange blend between an old-school hot rod and the PT Cruiser or the Chevrolet SSR, the car was brought back to its initial design traits, and also benefits from Foose's airbrushed graphics.

Visually, the Hemisfear is a pure delight. Open-wheeled front and rear, it presents a raised back and lowered front that makes it look particularly aggressive. The bubble in the middle of the body marks the place where the cockpit is, and helps tone down the lines of the vehicle a bit.

Chip Foose Hemisfear
Photo: Mecum
Up front, a carbon front grille is accentuated by polished chrome fasteners, the work of a team called Artistic Silver Plating. Further up, the windshield curves abruptly to form the cockpit bubble, setting off at the end of a very long front end.

The carbon fiber body of the car is in a color called Demon Red. It's not a simple application of the color but embellished with flame detailing that allegedly took Foose 14 hours to complete.

The body wraps around a hand-built steel chassis supported by a suspension system handled by Hotchkis Performance. The system ends in off-center mount wheels designed by Foose, behind which brake calipers in the color of the body can be seen.

The wheels spin courtesy of a rear-mounted 392ci HEMI engine assembled by hand and running a five-speed manual transmission. In this application, the unit is rated at 485 hp, which is more than enough to provide thrills to match the hot rod's looks.

The interior of the beast is pure supercar delight. The two bucket seats, but also the door panels and the steering wheel, are in leather, of a color its makers call Sunkist Orange, highlighted by red accents. It all looks brand new, thanks to the reupholstering performed in 2011.

Behind the seats a transparent shield allows the occupants a view of the car's engine, while the opposite end provides the view of a custom dashboard with Foose gauges. The center-mounted shifter is locked inside a carbon center housing.

This one-of-five Chip Foose Hemisfear is listed as a star of the Mecum auction taking place in Indianapolis starting May 12. It's not clear how much the hot rod originally sold for, but the current owner is hoping to fetch up to $350,000 for it.

We'll come back on the story once the hammer falls and update with info on whether that target was reached or not.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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