T Bucket Roadsters
The Classic Hot Rod - Ford T Bucket Roadster
As a car guy and motorhead, this hot rod has always been one of my favorites. To get an actual steel bodied original car is almost impossible nowadays but there are plenty of aftermarket bodies and parts available to build one of these sweet cars. Let's have a closer look.
The T-Bucket roadster got its name because the original car was an actual Ford Model T. That's right, these wonderful hot rods date back to the early 1920s when Henry Ford mass produced his famous affordable, everyman's auto that you could get in any color you wanted as long as you wanted black.
Inevitably, when man is in control of a machine, the competition started. One guy passes the other so he thinks he has to make his machine faster so off it goes. The mechanics of the day, around oh, about the 1930s or so started tinkering with their cars to make them faster. They started experimenting with ways to get more power out of the engine but one of the easiest ways to make a car faster was to strip unneeded parts off the cars to make them lighter. A lighter car will accelerate faster with the same engine horsepower so they would shed bumpers, fenders, running boards, hoods, etc. to form a stripped down, bare bones car that somewhere along the way got dubbed the "Hot Rod". Nobody knows exactly how the name originated but it has stuck all through the years.
The First Hotrods
The early hot rods were nothing more than these stripped down cars and there wasn't a whole lot of attention paid to looks as there is today. There is a group of rodders today that hold true to the old style hot rods and sometimes go to great lengths to build a car that is period perfect to what would have been built back then. They are sometimes known as "rat rods" because they aren't painted and polished and some people think they look junky or "ratty", but they are actually a much more true representation of that period in hot rod history so they have become very popular.
One characteristic of all T bucket roadsters is the exposed engine. There is no hood or engine cowlings of any kind. There are usually no cowlings around the radiator either, with it just sitting out in front pretty much exposed. As a matter of fact, most of the components usually hidden from view on most cars are pretty much out in the open on these rods, including the front axle and suspension, exhaust pipes (usually headers), exposed wheels (no fenders) and the frame.
Below is a fine example of a hot rod built true to the early style of hot rodding. Today it would be considered a "Rat Rod" but back in the day, this was a common type of car driven by any true motorhead car guy.
Rat T with flaming headers
Today's T Bucket Hot Rod
Probably the most common model is the 1923 T so a lot of the modern T-bucket roadsters of today are based on this model. Getting an actual Model T today is next to impossible and if you do find one, you'd better have very deep pockets because it will cost you a ton of money.
Fear not though, if you want to build one of these sweet machines, there are a number of places where you can get kits and all the parts you will need to create the hot rod of your dreams. A lot of people start out with parts they get from the local junk yard, but there are suppliers that have every part available that you would need to build one from scratch. Most of the kits today have reproduction body parts made out of fiberglass, but there are metal body kits available also.
The major drive train components can be purchased new, but this would be a major expense. These parts (engine, transmission, drive shaft, rear end) are best obtained from the local junk yard or you could even look around for an old car that you can get cheap and then salvage these parts from it yourself. Finding parts like this can make it possible to build one a rod without a huge outlay of cash.
Strictly speaking, the original Model T's were of course built by Ford and some guys think that they should have Ford engines and drive trains, but the fact is, these cars are usually built from kits and you can use any engine and drive train components you want. If you're a Dodge or Chevy guy, you can put that powerplant in your rod if you like. I've seen T buckets with Hemi engines and the Chevy 350 is probably one of the most popular to use because they are plentiful and easy to get aftermarket parts for.
The level of engine modification is pretty much up to the individual builder too. I've seen anything from pretty much stock on up to a fully supercharged big block V8 that you would expect to see on a drag racing car rather than a street machine. A lot depends on how deep your pockets are when it comes to the engine build.
Nice T bucket with 2 engines
This one is pretty wild. Twin V-8 engines make this hot rod very unique. You don't see many like this roaming the streets. While it's definitely impressive from and engineering standpoint and the sound is fantastic, I bet he has a problem cooling both those engines with that little radiator.
T-Bucket GalleryClick thumbnail to view full-size
T Bucket video
Nice classic T bucket hot rod starting up and leaving the car show. That distinctive whine you hear is the blower (supercharger) sitting atop the engine. I love that sound and the engine exhaust note. It just says power!
You know you want to build a hotrod now!
So, does seeing all these sweet rides give you the urge to build one yourself? I've wanted to build one of these for a long time. Hopefully, I'll get the chance in the near future. These rods are probably the cheapest and easiest of all the styles of hot rod to build, so I think it would be a good project to start out with. Plus, you can totally customize it to your own taste and style. Well, if you're a builder or just a looker, you can still enjoy these great cars at your nearest car show.
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