With a title like that, it helps to start things off with some substantiation, so take a quick look at this 35 second video and then we’ll tell you more.
Back in 2011, we did a series of very popular posts on NEHR Speedcraft’s T-Bucket “Hot Rod” in a Box kits. Today, NEHR has evolved into Detroit Speedcraft and they’ve taken their T-Bucket kit building up a few notches with their new Super-Performance T-Bucket.
Dave Nedock and Tom Kuhr of Detroit Speedcraft noticed that more of their T-Bucket customers were looking for not only a safe, dependable ride that looked good, but also one that had really dramatic performance — and they responded. While their T-Bucket in a Box kit is a roller that sells for $14,545, they also produce a complete turnkey T-Bucket with new 350 Chevy crate engine, along with Turbo 350 automatic, 4 barrel intake, and headers ready to drive away for $24,900 (which is pretty nice compared to similar at that price point where you have to supply your own engine and transmission).
With a 290+ HP crate engine and weighing only 1850 pounds their regular complete T-Bucket has great performance! That became the basis for the new Super-Performance T-Bucket when a customer in California was looking for something more that would really produce that strong kick in the tail.
By the way, when a guy in California does his T-Bucket research and ends up having his built in the all the way across country in Michigan, that’s quite an endorsement!
As a point of reference, Dave Nedock is a former Ford engineer whose hot rod exploits have included Funny Cars and Fuel Altereds, so Dave has a good handle on what it takes for performance. Take a look at the video below to see that the proof is in the pudding.
For a street-driven T-Bucket to turn an 11.21 e.t., at 121 mph, is pretty impressive. Hey, I’m an old guy and back in the 60’s that’s the kind of e.t. that would be cranked out by a C/Altered or B/Gas car that was drag strip only, towed, and gulping race gas.
It so happened the Detroit Speedcraft guys rented Milan Dragway for a day and invited a few customers. One of them drove his T 150 miles to the drag strip, laid down several runs with a best of 11.78 at 116 mph, drove 150 miles back home and picked up his wife to go out to a cruise that night. Talk about versatility!
So, how does Detroit Speedcraft engineer a Super-Performance T-Bucket?
Well, they start with their standard complete T-Bucket and replace the 4-barrel on an aluminum intake with a tunnel ram fed by a pair of side-mounted double-pumper Holley carbs. Then, Dave works some real magic by replacing the crate motor cam with a grind that makes lots of torque and has a great whap-whap sound. It has modest lift, though, so there’s no need for frequent valve spring replacement and being hydraulic you don’t have to worry with resetting valve lash.
By the way, this is all done still using regular fuel.
The next ingredient is upgrading to a 700R4 automatic converted to fully manual shift operation with a higher stall torque converter. And the rear end gear is a conservative 3.42:1, which goes well with the tranny’s 3.05:1 first gear.
Their rear end design features long ladder bars to avoid harshness in the ride, but also serve well from a traction standpoint. Polyurethane bushings are used instead of rubber to further enhance rear suspension performance.
By design, the Detroit Speedcraft T-Bucket’s wheelbase is longer than most at 106″ and the front axle is 12″ in front of the engine; making the engine almost mid-ship and giving very good front-to-back weight distribution of 52/48 for a T-Bucket.
With the resulting vehicle dynamic response with 350+ HP and a weight of 1850 lbs. wet, the Detroit Speedcraft Super-Performance T-Bucket really is in the “Cobra Killer” category. Yet, you can still drive 1000 miles and enjoy it. Talk about bang for the buck!
Although the Super-Performance T-Bucket is not built as a race car, it does come with a 4-point rollbar.
While Detroit Speedcraft’s Super-Performance T-Bucket is a “Cobra Killer”, it’s also a terrific highway cruiser.
With the locking converter in overdrive on the highway the engine’s turning only 2100 rpm at 80 mph with just two fingers resting on top of the steering wheel as you pass the slow movers in the right hand lane. At 100 mph, it’s just smooth driving. Here’s a nice one-minute video of Geoff “Skullk” Sculley’s Super-Performance T-Bucket doing some of the things it does best.
I could go on and on about the Detroit Speedcraft Super-Performance T-Bucket because I’ve spent a lot of time talking with Dave and Tom about their fascinating work — but you can get the full story at their website, www.DetroitSpeedcraft.com. Plus, they have a pretty terrific sale now going on. Dave likes to say that “if you drive one, you’ll buy it.”
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28 thoughts on “Detroit Speedcraft’s Super-Performance T-Bucket is a “Cobra Killer””
I live in Sarasota. “Mickey Rat” has now found a new home in my shop. I absolutely love the car, very unique. See ya on the beach!!!
Glad to hear it, Robert. They’re very cool T’s, with a distinctively different personality. And you’ve got a nice one.
I’m hoping someone will come along to continue the tradition they began in Detroit. Here’s to many miles of enjoyment!
I’m the original owner of Mickey Rat. Saw your post and wondered how he was doing. Hope you are enjoying it!
Has anyone shown interest in buying the company? It’d be a shame to let this design die.
Detroit Speedcraft has closed but I have one of the last cars built and it’s for sale. It’s located near the “factory” in Birmingham, Mi and has less than 600 miles. Contact me at email@example.com for more details before it’s gone.
Thanks David. Yes, it’s too bad they’re no longer in business but they had a good run and it was just one of those things where hard decisions needed to be made in terms of continuity as I understand it. Hope your’s finds a good home. They’re pretty cool.
Dave, how may I buy one of your cars…..any of them?
-Steve in Utah, age72
I am 70 years old with limited time and build space. I may be interested in a turn key unit. As I am in Canada the rod will need fenders to be road legal. I did not notice turn signals as well.
Where are you located for pick up and what would the price be for the turn key with your 350 in it.
Brian Heslin 780-263-5624
My car is for sale in the metro Detroit area.
I live near Dave and had him & Tom build a turn key car for me. You can see it on their website. Its called the Woodward Cruiser. Its one of the last cars built before they closed the shop doors.
The quality, performance and attention to detail is second to none.
My car is for sale and anyone interested in buying a quality car at an affordable price should go to carsonline.com
Yes, David, I was sad to hear about their closing. Detroit Speedcraft produced some really well-built, unique and top performing T-Buckets. They left an ongoing impression, though, because I believe their early low-profile T’s inspired Speedway Motors to develop their Tribute T-Bucket Kit Car.
Great article! By the way, I’m the guy who drove my car to Milan, and raced it NINE times, and then drove back to Ohio to take my wife out for a cruise. The car IS Awsome! AND , it appears Bob Seger thinks it’s pretty cool, too, as he has a couple shots of it, (Mickey Rat), in his music video for “Detroit Made”.
So far, Mickey Rat is a “one of a kind”. The body is stretched 10 inches and widened 6 inches. LOTS of room for a T-Bucket! I’m a big guy, about 260 lbs., and Tom and Dave proved to me a T -Bucket could be made to fit me comfortably. And it does!
For all you Hot Rodders out there, all I can say is… Buy one! You WON’T be disappointed!
Great to hear from you, Ron. Nothing like the enthusiastic comments of a happy owner. You’ve got a great looking hot rod and it’s an inspiration. Dave and Tom do great work and I’m a big admirer. I’ve also posted the Seger video below. Thanks again.
I own the car now. I live in Sarasota. The Mickey Rat car is Legendary. You can email me for more details. Very particular as to who I welcome to my shop. Google mickey rat car, plenty of info on car history. Absolutely epic car for 20 grand.
After a full first day of driving this beast, all I can say is WOW! What an awesome hot rod. Working with Dave and Tom for the last few months has truly been an exciting time for me. Bouncing ideas back and forth to come up with a remarkable hot rod. If you have any thoughts of having a car built, these are the guys to do it for you. A really fast and driveable car; and hope you are not shy about people taking pictures of the car!
Sorry for the belated response, Geofff. You have a really cool T in Skullduggery and I was very impressed by the video. It’s a pleasure to see more of it on the Detroit Speedcraft website: http://www.detroitspeedcraft.com/T18.html
This was the best project ever! Working with my husband Geoff and the level of detail both Tom and Dave put into the design an build was so awesome. Now that we have the car, Geoff can’t stay out of the Garage. That could be a good or bad thing! Can’t wait to go to the car show and just cruise in “Skullduggery! Thanks to both Dave and Tom for going over and beyond! Stay tuned for some roadshow pictures.
Lonie, it’s so nice to hear a spouse weigh in on the family T-Bucket. You and Geoff can be rightly proud of a very distinctive T. And you’re absolutely correct that Tom and Dave at Detroit Speedcraft are a pleasure to deal with. Seldom do you find shops where they’re so willing to listen and then go to great lengths to answer questions to your satisfaction. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Tom & Dave , Built Me One and its a Great Car.. I am in San Jose Ca.. Thanks Guys.
Thanks Mike. I’m a fan of your “Rage Machine”.
I built, drive, tour, race and show a Detroit Speedcraft ’27 kit. The chassis is identical in the front, but the rear suspension is different than the ’23. It is slung low beneath the rear axle. Great driving car with a soft ride, rare for a light roadster. Dave and Tom have a great design. I drove all the way from Idaho to pick up my kit. It was well worth it, and I’d do it again.
Have they sold any turn key cars or kits in Michigan? I didn’t see any with bumpers or wipers on the website.
I would like to talk to anyone who has went through the Michigan inspection/registration process.
🙂 Sure, James. They’ve sold and registered cars in Michigan. Think you’ve heard an urban legend. I’m sure if you gave them a call they’d be glad to explain how they can help customers title the cars they build for them. By the way, they drive one around in MI all the time
Been looking at the Detroit Speedcraft car since they were NEHR. GOTTA sell some stuff to finance the project. Like my boring ol Harley.
Yep, Charlie, from what I’ve learned, the chassis design is second to none — and they just keep improving.
Thanks for the comment, Charlie. After all, T-Buckets are the closest hot rods to a Harley you’ll find in terms of openness and exposed mechanicals — plus they’re a darn sight safer and a heck of a lot more comfortable for passengers along for the ride!
Totally Awesome !!
Thanks, Tony. Dave and Tom put a lot of thought and experience into their builds — and it pays off on the drivability and performance side.