Foose began working on automobiles at age seven for his father's company, Project Design, in Santa Barbara, California. Encouraged by Ford and Preston Tucker designer Alex Tremulis, Foose started to attend the Art Center College of Design in 1982; however, he dropped out after two years due to financial difficulties. After working for four years at Clenet Coachworks, Foose returned to the Art Center to complete his education.
After graduating in 1990, Foose worked full-time for Sterenberger Design and part-time for Boyd Coddington. In 1993, Foose resigned from Sterenberger to work for J Mays at Ford; however, Coddington was able to convince Foose to work for him instead. Working for Coddington full-time, Foose eventually became the president of Coddington's company Hot Rods by Boyd. While working for Coddington, Foose designed many of Coddington's well known creations such as the Boydster I and II.
In 1998, with Hot Rods by Boyd facing bankruptcy, Foose left his position and with his wife Lynne started his own automotive and product design company called Foose Design in Huntington Beach, California. Foose's departure from Boyd's was not an amicable one as in a 2006 interview, Foose stated: "Boyd has chosen to not have any relations with me, since I stopped working at his shop." One of the main reasons for the bitter relationship between Boyd and Chip is claimed to be that Chip retained many of the talented builders from Boyd Coddington. Mike and Charley left Boyd shortly after Foose had established his shop.
Foose gained more exposure in 2003 as a result of a TLC documentary on his design and creation of a modified 2002 Ford Thunderbird called the Speedbird. In 2004, the TLC program Overhaulin' began to air with Foose as the star of show. At the 2005 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, a unique 1969 Foose Designed Camaro Convertible was displayed, to be produced in a 300 car run by Unique Performance of Dallas Texas. Press releases following this period announced UP would also be handling the marketing of Foose's other custom car lines, including Hemisfear, along with the Foose 2006 Mustang Stallion. Foose also designed a paint scheme for 4 time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon to promote Dupont's Hot Hues paint line. Foose has since severed ties with DuPont and now promotes the BASF Glasurit paint line exclusively.
In November 2007, Foose officially severed ties to Unique Performance following police action against UP for alleged illegal activities. In 2006, Foose launched a line of die cast replicas of many of his famous designs partnering with the makers of Johnny Lightning in the creation of JL Full Throttle. JL Full Throttle produced many of Foose's famous, award-winning designs like Grand Master and Impression. In 2002, Chip won the coveted "Ridler" Award at the 50th Anniversary Show of the Detroit Autorama with Bob and Wes Rydell's 35 Chevy Master, otherwise known as the "Grandmaster". The Impression subsequently won the prestigious Ridler prize. Also replicated were a number of cars from Overhaulin'. Announced at the SEMA show in 2006 was a pact between Foose and Ford to produce Foose designed Ford vehicles, the first of which was shown at the 2007 New York Auto Show.
In 2007, Foose began limited production (50 vehicles in total) of the Hemisfear. Also known as the Foose Coupe, the Hemisfear was designed by Foose in 1990 during his time at the Art Center and publicly unveiled at the SEMA trade show in November 2006. An earlier design drawing of the Hemisfear served as the inspiration for the Plymouth Prowler. The 2007 Hemisfear was commissioned by a new die cast model car company JL Full Throttle which had partnered with Foose to build both the real Hemisfear and scale models of the car. A Foose Coupe was sold along with a design consultation with Foose at the Barrett-Jackson car auction in Palm Beach, Florida at the end of March 2007. The 1st Foose Coupe Supercar was auctioned for $340,000; sold to Atlanta vintage car dealer and avid car collector Roger Burgess.
Foose was retained as design consultant to provide architects with unique styling elements for the exterior and interior of the $275 million expansion of Detroit's MotorCity Casino, anticipated to be complete by the end of 2007.
Foose helped to start the Ridemakerz customizable toy cars business in 2007.
As of 2010, Foose continues to operate Foose Design and provide design consultations to the Big Three automakers. Overhaulin' was canceled at the end of 2009, though reruns still air on Discovery Turbo. Shortly following the launch of the channel Velocity, it was announced that the show would return in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Foose serves as the vice chairman of the Progeria Research Foundation's California Chapter. His youngest sister died of Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome. He has also taken part in numerous children's charities such as Childhelp and Victory Junction Gang Camp. He was named grand marshal of SEMA's Show N' Shine public car show for children's charities.
Foose and his wife live in Southern California with their two children, Brock and Katie.
In November 1997, Foose became the youngest person to be inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame. Additionally, Foose was inducted into the Darryl Starbird Rod & Custom Car Museum Hall of Fame in 2002, the Grand National Roadster Show Hall of Fame in 2003, the Detroit Autorama "Circle of Champions" Hall of Fame in 2012, and the San Francisco Rod and Custom Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2005. Foose has also won the following awards for his work:Ridler Award in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2015.Most Beautiful Roadster Award in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006, and 2014. Some of these cars were designed by Foose and completed by other builders such as Troy Trepanier, Barry White, and Bobby Alloway.The Goodguys Street Rod of the Year Award in the years 1990, 1991, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2010.Diecast Hall of Fame Inductee 2009.Best Hot Rod at Bilsport Performance Show 2011.Best Custom Car - 1954 Chevrolet "Cool Air" NACE Expo 2014