I love T-Bucket creativity. After all, a T-Bucket really is the perfect hot rod canvas, existing for every builder to forge his own unique automotive work of art. One green T-Bucket in particular caught my eye a number of years ago because it demonstrated creative touches everywhere you looked. It is worthy of further examination and I know you’ll likely pick up some inspiration along the way for your own T-Bucket build.
As Men’s Warehouse founder, George Zimmer, would say …
This glittering green T-Bucket was built in Western Pennsylvania by Blaise Kendall, who attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and whose artistic genius and mechanical skills are evident throughout the build.
This 1923 Ford roadster hot rod T-Bucket was built in 2008-2009 and I’ve been fascinated by its innovative features since seeing first early pictures of it.
And the best place to start describing this awesome green T-Bucket is up front, where you’ll find some of its most unique features.
Leading the way is a 1928 Model A straight I-beam axle, drilled with traditional hot rod competition lightening holes. Those are traditional Dietz headlights.
Behind that, you see the chopped ’32 grille shell with a custom made drilled and dimple-died aluminum grille insert. It’s backed by an aluminum radiator with a pair of small electric fans to augment the diminished air flow through the stylish grille insert.
And what’s really cool is the front transverse spring perch comes out through the middle of the grille shell! You’ll notice in this view that the frame rails are a good ten inches below the perch and by having such a tall spring perch Blaise was able to give the green T-Bucket a nice low profile while using the undropped Model A front axle.
If you study the photo above, you’ll appreciate the drilled and sleeved custom 1-1/2″ x 3″ frame, which is complemented by drilled and sleeved 1928 Model A split wishbones. Another unique, traditional touch which is barely visible is the use of British sports car liquid lever shocks in front.
Now, for an absolutely awesome stroke of creative genius. Check out those custom louvered disc brake backing plates. They harken back to flat backing plates used for streamlining in the 1950s on drag racing and lakes competition cars that ran without front brakes. In this modern incarnation they provide a traditional style camouflage for the GM rotors and Howe Racing calipers which were adapted to 1948 Ford spindles.
For motorvation the little green T-Bucket runs a mostly stock mid 70’s 350 small block Chevy engine. A creative touch the budget T-Bucket builder might want to take note of is the use of swap meet fenderwell headers painted hi-temp white, with internal baffles. The sound is a nice loud, but not open header loud. You can hear it later on in the video toward the end of this.
With an estimated 300 hp this T gets down the road just fine. For appearance sake, the engine features a polished aluminum water pump, chrome alternator, and sometimes vintage polished cast aluminum Cal Custom valve covers. Other times, clear resin valve covers. More on that later.
The eye-popping paint finish is a 1999 Ford Ranger Jalapeno Green Metallic base with heavy Old School Flake Lime Green and 9 coats of clear.
It’s quick, but not a race car, and is quite comfortable at 75 MPH.
The cool stance of this T is helped by 5.60 x 15 Firestone Wide Whitewall front tires and rear 31 x 12 x 15 Radir dragster slicks on 10 inch rims with painted steelies and baby moons.
Hold on, because now it gets really interesting.
The interior is finished in what’s described as cheapo white fake pleated vinyl that used to be sold by JC Whitney, but now seems to be available mostly from marine upholstery outlets. It is nicely accented with aluminum grommets that provide ventilation for comfort.
But look further inside and get ready to be shocked. Aside from the Stewart Warner gauges, I bet you’ve never seen anything like this before. The floor of the T-Bucket has been molded to enclose the rebuilt Turbo Hydro 350 transmission with shift kit and TCI Breakaway torque converter that gives about 1,000 more rpm stall speed than stock to launch and accelerate faster. And, yes, that’s a custom built under dash transverse mounted dual master cylinder arrangement. But, why, you ask?
Well, normally there are only two ways to mount a master cylinder and brake pedal: on the firewall or under the floor. Mounting on the firewall presents a cluttered appearance and there can be interference problems with the steering box. Plus, in a T-Bucket there’s just not much firewall room. Under the floor is popular, but it seems Blaise Kendall wanted a very different look under his T-Bucket, which we’ll get to later.
Blaise designed the master cylinder/brake pedal assembly to also serve as support for the steering column and it is all bolted to the floor in a kind of cool utilitarian, form follows function arrangement that makes it look like an altered that has been put on the street. The steering is done via a 1954 Studebaker steering box.
As noted, the underside is dramatically different, too. With the molded floor and tunnel for the transmission and driveshaft it looks like a show car from below, but with the added safety feature of a driveshaft loop.
A quarter elliptic 4 bar rear suspension with trackbar control the Camaro rear axle with 3:08 gears and positraction.
In keeping with a functional competition look, the rear drum brakes feature finned drums with drilled backing plates.
Between the crossmembers is a compact 4 gallon reserve fuel tank which ties into a Carter electric fuel pump and regulator.
Looking underneath from the front you can see the drilled split wishbones and the lever action shocks as well as the alternator mounted low and out of the way.
With the turtle deck removed, you can see the Optima battery mounting as well as the 7 gallon main fuel tank.
From this angle, you get a nice view of how the upper four bar suspension arms go through the rear kickup and you’ll also note the chrome tube shocks in back.
The canted 1939 Ford taillights on the turtle deck are enhanced by some very nice pinstriping.
A sinister-looking, chopped removable top adds yet another unique dimension to this metalflaked green T-Bucket.
The fiberglass hard top tilts forward for entry and exit. It also removes quickly via 2 bolts which attach to the fabricated windshield frame.
The single nerf bar in the rear further enhances the competition look of this little T.
By now, you certainly want to see and hear this T-Bucket in action so kick back and enjoy the video below.
You may have been intrigued by the clear valve covers in some of the earlier photos and this video will give you a better view of that unique feature, along with some topless down the road action.
I think you’ll have to agree that this is one really out-a-sight T-Bucket.