Build a T-Bucket Fiberglass Car Body: Is it for you?

People have asked about building their own T-Bucket fiberglass car body. They want to know if plans and dimensions are available for constructing a fiberglass car body for their T-Bucket instead of purchasing one.

T-Bucket fiberglass car body Speedway Motors

Speedway Motors T-Bucket fiberglass car body ad from the 1960s

My answer is that you can rather easily shop around today and find a T-Bucket fiberglass body for under $500. If what you’re looking for is a standard T-Bucket body, then it doesn’t make much sense building your own, especially when you realize the following:

    • Unless you happen to be a talented sculptor, you need a T-Bucket body to serve as the plug from which you will build your mold to make your own fiberglass T-Bucket car body. Unfortunately,the days are over of being able to pay a friendly Model T owner a token $25 to rent his car for a few days, like the founders of Cal Automotive did in the 1960s.
    • When you make that mold, you will have to use two to four times the thickness of fiberglass as will be used in the body to prevent the mold from flexing, especially if you want to use that mold for making more than one T-Bucket body. (Plus, the market for those bodies is already fairly competitive and the cost of fiberglass resin keeps increasing).
    • Once you build the mold, then you need to lay in the mat, the cloth and the resin to make your fiberglass car body. By now, your materials cost is as much as, if not more than, what you would spend to purchase a T-Bucket fiberglass car body — to say nothing of untold hours of your own labor.

 

T-Bucket fiberglass car body mold

Typical mold for a T-Bucket fiberglass car body. Note flanges used not only for separating mold to remove body but also to reinforce it.

So, it’s really false economy today to think about building your own T-Bucket body using fiberglass if what you’re looking for is a conventional T-Bucket body …

But, this kind of T-Bucket fiberglass car body is worth the effort to do-it-yourself!

joe wilhelm wild_dream_custom fiberglass car body t-bucket

Hot rodding is all about individual expression and some guys are ready to take it to the next level by not being satisfied with some minor modifications to a standard body. Instead, they take their inspiration from traditional hot rods and apply Picasso-like creativity to produce hot rods of truly one-of-a-kind distinction, as in Joe Wilhelm‘s T-inspired “Wild Dream”. Of course, Joe was a master metalworker who fashioned his custom T body in aluminum, but just as easily it could have been done in fiberglass.

Dan Woods custom fiberglass car body Milk Truck T-bucket c-cab

It was fiberglass and plywood that were the tools of construction for high schooler Dan Woods when he built his legendary “Milk Truck” show car in the early 1960s.

The Uncertain-T Steve Scott hot rod show car

Likewise, another high school hot rod prodigy, Steve Scott, chose fiberglass to construct his sweepstakes winning show car, “The Uncertain T”.

Himsl Brothers Alien fiberglass car body t-bucket

And in 1969 Art Himsl used the then incredibly popular fiberglass dune buggy as an inspiration for his take on a futuristic hot rod, “The Alien”, which won the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award.

X-Tee-C custom fiberglass car body T-Bucket

Another T-Bucket inspired sweepstakes-winning show car of the ’60s is Marty Hahnfeld’s “X-Tee-C” with its custom fiberglass body constructed by famed Chicago area builder, Dave Puhl.

Ed Big Daddy Roth Outlaw custom fiberglass car body

But the first fiberglass bodied car that did it for me was the incredible takeoff on the T-Bucket that was created in the late 1950s by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, variously known as the Outlaw, Excalibur, and Excaliber. It looked like a T, but it wasn’t a T, and that’s what made it awesome. Even more awesome was the unique technique Big Daddy developed to more quickly, easily and cheaply build a fiberglass body with the bare minimum of special tools.

Ed Big Daddy Roth Beatnik Bandit custom fiberglass car body

Big Daddy used that same mysterious plaster, vermiculite and newspaper “spitballs” formula to produce his other fabulous fiberglass bodied hot rods like the “Beatnik Bandit”. He even published a booklet on how to make your own fiberglass body like he did, but even after reading it you still couldn’t quite figure out how to do it.

But now, it’s all clearly revealed in a four-hour DVD you’ll want to get your hot little hands on so you can start your own custom hot rod creation: Build a Fiberglass Body at Home. To check out all the details on it at our sister website, click here>

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Greta,
    There’s really no place to “buy a mold” for a ’23 T body. From time-to-time there are molds that go on the market, but it is pretty rare. Most of the molds today have been made using an existing fiberglass T body as a plug. For obvious reasons, if your desire is to have a fiberglass T-Bucket body it is way cheaper to buy one than to think about building a mold and making your own. Thanks for asking.

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