In answer to the question, “Is there any way today to build a T-Bucket hot rod on a real budget?” I have to respond with an emphatic “yes”. To prove that point, you can now buy a new fiberglass T-Bucket body for only $275. That kind of price hasn’t been seen for a bucket body since the turn of the century. And, if you want a pickup bed, turtle deck, seat insert or grille shell they’re all comparably bargain priced, too. This is all thanks to the fine folks at Cromwell Molding Company in Paynesville, Minnesota and the fact that, through circumstances beyond their control, they’ve eliminated the middle man.
You see, Cromwell Molding produced fiberglass T-Bucket bodies and parts for the former MAS Racing Products in St. Paul which went out of business. Now, I know that when you mention MAS bodies on just about any Internet hot rod forum that some poster will sit behind his keyboard and say, “Oh, those MAS bodies are crap” or something similar. I’ll venture that most of them are just passing along something they heard somebody else say that he heard somebody else say. Well, I actually bought a MAS body several years ago and can tell you that it’s a very good value for the money. Of course, you can spend way more and get a better body that may not require as much prep work, but if you’re really building a T-Bucket on a budget and are ready to benefit from a little “sweat equity” while having fun doing it then you can’t go wrong with a body like this.
As an example, you may recall the “Garage Scene” in the January, 2001 issue of Street Rodder magazine that showed the beginnings of Nick Conti’s “low buck T-Bucket” project and pointed out that “the body is the cheapest bucket he could find new”, which was a MAS body.
Then, the March, 2003 issue of Street Rodder did a great feature story on Nick’s “Low-Buck Bucket” and it turned plenty of heads for two good reasons.
The first reason it commanded major attention was that it looked absolutely awesome. The second reason was that his total investment to build what became a magazine feature car was “just shy of $6800!” Just as Russ Freund showed the world with his Takeout T, it’s entirely possible to build a great-looking T-Bucket hot rod without investing tons of money.
Cromwell’s been building fiberglass T-Bucket bodies since around 1989 and they are chopper gun sprayed 1/8+ inch thick bodies and parts. As noted, the ’23 T fiberglass body is $275, which is a price the market hasn’t seen since back before the year 2000.
Their T-Bucket body dimensions are normal size: 52″ from firewall to back of body, 42″ from door to door, 27″ tall in back, and 25″ tall to dash. They weigh approximately 45 pounds. In case you’re curious, such a body will fit in the back of a regular size SUV like a Durango.
If you’re anywhere within driving distance of Paynesville, Minnesota, (which is about 90 miles west of Minneapolis) you’re probably best off arranging to pick up your body and other fiberglass parts there. Cromwell can palletize, shrink wrap and load your parts for you for $25 if you’re having them picked up by a truck line, but you have to make your own freight company arrangements and they need to pick up at Cromwell from 7 a.m. to noon.
Their T pickup beds are offered in three different lengths: 14″, 20″ and 30″ and are $125 each.
They also have a nice seat insert (like the ones offered in the old Bird T-Bucket kits) for only $110, which does a great job of adding rigidity to the body as well. It’s my understanding that to install the fiberglass seat insert, you slide the body over it so that the lip on the top of the seat insert is covered by the lip on the top of the body. The two parts are then temporarily screwed together so that you can bond the seat insert to the body with fiberglass. When the fiberglass has dried appropriately, the screws are removed and the holes are filled in. This also takes care of your floorboard and transmission tunnel fabrication requirements, in addition to providing seating, so it’s a nice way to kill a lot of birds with one stone.
If you want to build your T-Bucket with a turtle deck, they have those at just $100.
They have a nice T grille shell with integral mounting tabs for $50.
With these kinds of bargain prices on T-Bucket bodies and parts, you really have no excuse for not starting your build project right now. I doubt you can find a used body for less. First, though, be sure to download your copy of “How to Build a T-Bucket Roadster for Under $3000”. There’s no better motivation for getting that T-Bucket project moving than having Chester’s 250+ page eBook to guide you every step of the way and a nice, new fiberglass T-Bucket body in your garage just waiting for you to get to work on it.
Another nice thing about Cromwell is that they typically have these bodies and parts in inventory, so you don’t have to worry about lead time delays. And just so you know, this isn’t an ad but rather a public service for budding T-Bucket builders. When we see something that’s a good deal, we like to let our loyal followers know about it.
You should also know that Cromwell is getting ready to introduce a new T-Bucket body with opening doors: left, right or both. That will be a nice addition to their product line.
You can reach Cromwell at:
Cromwell Molding Company
27546 State Highway 23
Paynesville, MN 56362-9780
Just be sure to tell them you heard about them at TBucketPlans.com.