Split hoods and split bonnets

As you can imagine, a lot of consternation arose when I mentioned doing a section on split hoods and bonnets. Bre wanted to know how that makes your car go faster, and he's got a point, it does nothing for car performance; but it's a must have for a customized show car. While it may have nothing to do with car performance, it has everything to do with car customization and is ideal for our section on pimped out cars. It also goes to show that with a little imagination mundane looking car parts can be turned into something really unique!

For those of you who might not know what we're talking about, a split hood is a hood consists of two halves and opens from the middle like French doors. While a conventional hood is hinged either at the back or the front of the hood, a split hood is hinged at the sides, allowing it to open from the middle to each side. It's the latest craze at the car shows but split hoods date back to the 1920's and 1930's when they were stock items on cars such as the 1929 Ford Model A sedan and the 1939 Plymouth P8 DeLuxe. Only those were more practice as they were hinged from the middle and opened from the sides. On this page we'll look at split hoods and fitting a split hood kit but be warned, this is a fairly simple job but requires a fair amount of skill and is intended for show cars and not street cars!

The Planning

Planning is a crucial part of fitting a split hood. Begin by removing the sound deadening material on the underside of your hood so that you can see the support braces that give the hood its rigidity. The idea is to split the hood without losing rigidity so you may need to weld additional support braces, especially along the split, to regain rigidity.

When it comes to making the split, you've got quite a bit of choices. You can go for a straight cut down the middle, an off center diagonal cut, a curved cut, a zig zag cut, or any other imaginable shape. But the easiest yet still most impressive split hoods are the off center diagonal cut and the 'S' shaped curve cut.

You also need to take into consideration the location of the hood release catch as you still need to close the hood. On anything other than a straight cut the hood release catch must be on the part of the hood that will be your leading edge as the leading edge will rest on the other part of the hood. On a straight cut or a cut that is in the middle of the hood release catch, you will need to replace or move the hood release catch.

Split the Hood

Once you've planned your cut, mark it out on the hood with heavy duty masking tape. Then take an angle grinder or jig saw carefully cut through the outer sheet metal on the hood and the support braces below it. The angle grinder is best if you're going for a straight or curved cut, while the jig saw is better for making zig zag cuts and shapes with sharp bends.

Now you need to weld an overlapping seam on the underside of the half of the hood that is not the leading edge. The leading edge will rest on this overlapping seam and hold it down as the leading edge is the part that has the hood release catch. This part may be a little tricky as you need a fairly flat overlapping seam. Therefore you may need to remove some of the support braces near the edge so that the hood can close flush. You may also need to add a support brace along the seam to increase rigidity.

Once that's all done, you'll need to repaint the hood to protect the cut against corrosion and to give it a nice finish. You can also replace the sound deadening material once the hood has been repainted.

Refitting the Hood

Now it's time to refit the hood. You'll need a split hood kit to refit the hood or you can fabricate your own hinges and opening mechanism. Some split hood kits come with articulated opening mechanisms and some come with remote openers, but fabricating your own kit is a viable option. All you need are hinges that will be fixed to the inside of the front wings (i.e., the front fenders) and the spring mechanism and counter balance pistons from a car trunk. The counter balance pistons will allow you to balance the split hood against the spring tension so that you have a smooth hood opening action.

When you fit the hinges remember that the hood must open without causing the hood to foul against the front wing. You also want to have a nice even gap on either side of the hood, as well as along the cut where the two halves meet.

Now when you pop the hood, the spring loaded hood release mechanism and the spring mechanism will allow the split hood to flip up smoothly.

That's it then; another successful pimped out car customization from custom-car.us even if it is a bit more complicated than fitting a tilt hood kit, lambo doors and shaved door handles.