Custom Car Chronicle
In Memoriam

RIP Gary Chopit Fioto




On Monday May 30, 2016 Gary Chopit Fioto passed away. We sadly lost another very creative Custom Car Builder.

Gary “Chopit” Fioto grew up on Long Island, New York, and was fascinated with Custom Cars early on. Especially the wild show rods and bubble top customs created by Ed Roth and Daryl Starbird inspired him a lot thru-out his career. Gary opened a good running body shop on Long Island where he operated for many years, and his big break-thru came when he created a channeled sectioned and chopped 1932 Ford pickup. It wowed the crowd where ever it went and was featured in many magazines. He later created wild Customs as the 1950 Mercury with extreme bubble chopped top into a streamlined hardtop named “Tuf Enuff” and his dream come true all show Bubble Topped 1955 Ford named “Beatnik”. Gary later moved across country to open his new shop in Stanton, CA.

Gary visited the Santa Maria West Coast Kustoms Cruising Nationals in the memorial weekend of May 27-29, 2016 with the 1950 Mercury “Tuff Enuff” and on early Monday morning May 30, 2016 he suffered a heart attack and passed away. Gary “Chopit” Fioto was a true Craftsman and devoted husband and father.

Floorless 32 Ford Pickup


Tuff Enuff 1950 Mercury


CCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-tuffenuff-01Gary’s 1950 Mercury “Tuff Enuff” at the 2016 Santa Maria WCK show (Chip Chipman photo)

CCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-tuffenuff-02Gary Chopit Fioto on his return drive from the 2016 Santa Maria WCK show.

1955 Ford Bummle Top BeatnikCCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-beatnik-03



Inca Gold 53 Chevy


1927 Ford Roadster

CCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-roadster-01Photo courtesy of Street Rodder Magazine by Eric Geisert

1998 Long Island Shop Visit

In 1998 I had the pleasure to visit Gary “Chopit” Fioto in his Long Island shop. It was my third visit to the US, and the first time I met a famous Customizer I had previously read about in the magazines. I was extremely thrilled to visit his shop, and Gary made sure it was a visit to never forget. He showed us around his shop and let us walk around for as long as we wanted. He shared some great stories about how he got inspired by people as Daryl Starbird and how he had studied all the old techniques. Everything he did in his shop was inspired on the old masters he admired so much. Gary was working on the 1950 Mercury “Tuff Enuff” at the time, with all the main body work done and the body getting prepped for primer and paint. He went over every detail of the car with us, explaining what he had done, what other car parts he had used, and how he created those huge bubble skirts based on the same techniques his hero Daryl Starbird had used on so many of his cars.
Thank you Gary.

CCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-shopGary ‘Chopit” Fioto in front of his long beach shop with the famous customized 1957 Chevy as wall decoration.

CCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-tuffenuff-04The 1950 Mercury “Tuff Enuff” in the final stages before primer and paint.

CCC-rip-gary-chopit-fioto-01Gary in his office in his Long Island shop telling more stories.

Memorial Service

Please join us for Gary ‘Chopit’ Fioto’s Celebration of life

Mass – 9:30am
Holy Family Cathedral
566 S. Glassell St. Orange, CA

SUNDAY JUNE 12, 2016
Memorial Reception – Noon – 5
Galpin Auto Sports
15600 Roscoe Blvd. Van Nuys, CA


Our deepest sympathies go out to the Fioto family and everybody else
close to Gary “Chopit” Fioto.

Thank you Gary for your wonderful and creative contributions to the world of Customizing.




Rik Hoving

Rik is the CCC editor in chief. As a custom car historian he is researching custom car history for many years. In 2004 he started the Custom Car Photo Archive that has become a place of joy for many custom car enthousiasts. Here at CCC Rik will bring you inspiring articles on the history of custom cars and builders. Like a true photo detective he will show us what's going on in all those amazing photos. He will write stories about everything you want to know in the realm of customizing. In daily life Rik is a Graphic Designer. He is married to the CCC webmaster and the father of a 10 year old son (they are both very happy with his excellent cooking skills)

7 thoughts on “RIP Gary Chopit Fioto

  • Oh man this cant be true! I am so sorry to hear this! He was an awesome guy and always had the time to listen to what you had to say. I am honored to have spent time with Gary at family get togethers and parties. He will definitely be missed. My condolences to his family.

  • So sad. I really liked his unique styling that pushed the envelope. Had the pleasure of meeting Gary and his family many times at his Stanton open house, LA Roadsters’ Show, and other events out here. He was a great guy who made it clear that his family came first. May he rest in peace.

  • Very sad…. I never met Gary but I did dig his style and appreciated how he did customs his way. 100% respect.

    Rest In Peace and Keep Sleddin…..

  • he will always stand out to me as one of the best. i visited him in his Deland, Florida home shop during the Beatnik bubble top build and just as Rik put it he explained every detail on the build and made you feel right at home. he inspired me so much to build and i am thankful for knowing him and his family. you will be missed but never forgotten my friend, you are a stand up guy and your kids will continue in your footsteps. rest in peace.

  • Gary was one of the best kustom car builders I have known. I was at his shop in Levittown and Bethpage in Long Island New York many times as he was building some of the wildest customs. I remember in his living room on the wall he had a full size side of a 57 chevy.

  • Jimmy Malerba

    Gary and I worked together for years in farming dale ny at 1042 collision I lost touch with him . He was a amazing talent and a great in peace, daddy O !!

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