Leg Show T-Bucket and Danny Eichstedt Blow Traditional Hot Rod Minds, Part 1

Hot rod builder/editor/author/archeologist Pat Ganahl called it the best rod magazine cover ever produced: the eye-grabbing January, 1971 Rod & Custom featuring Danny Eichstedt’s Leg Show T-Bucket.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket Rod Custom January 1971

Calling it a “mind blower” for the street, the R&C story pointed out the irony of how such a radical departure from ‘traditional’ hot rodding was winning shows, capturing crowd enthusiasm and providing tons of driving enjoyment for its then 23-year-old owner and builder, Danny Eichstedt.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

As legendary automotive illustrator, stylist and now Hot Rod Magazine staff editor Thom Taylor observed in noting the Leg Show to be one of his favorite T-Buckets, “This car was startling in appearance — as any car for sure, but also from a traditional T-Bucket perspective.”

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

But, let’s start from the beginning about how this iconic hot rod, show rod, street rod came about.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Building the Leg Show T-Bucket

It all started in 1965 in the senior year of high school for Danny Eichstedt of Downey, California. The late Jack Keef, Dan’s good friend since 6th grade, had a T-Bucket hot rod and Danny decided he wanted one too — but like nothing that had been seen before.

02-Leg Show T-Bucket Danny Eichstedt (3)

Danny envisioned a short, 88″ wheelbase T with no turtle deck and not even a pickup box, which had become the “Norm” by that time. Coincidentally, around that time T-Bucket pioneer Norm Grabowski was working at Cal Automotive, in North Hollywood which was then owned by Tex Collins. So about a year before any construction began, Danny and Jack went to Cal Automotive and purchased one of their conventional fiberglass 1915 T bodies and a frame that had been welded up by Norm. In the photo above you can see Danny working the spray bomb to paint the frame in the equipment rental yard owned by Jack Keef’s parents.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Not long after, Danny graduated from high school, entered the service and set off for four tours of duty in Vietnam, not to return until September of 1969. But, thanks to Jack Keef, much was accomplished on the T-Bucket build while Danny was away serving his country.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Around the time of Danny’s high school graduation the Early Times car club was formed and became active in the area where Danny and Jack lived. (Jack became Early Times member no. 29 and Danny became member no. 67 after his return from the service).

Another Early Times member was Dan Woods who had created the Milk Truck as not only a show rod feature car, but also to be able to cruise with fellow Early Times members. As the Milk Truck show bookings increased, Dan’s cruising opportunities diminished. So, when he spied a really sharp looking T-Bucket with an abbreviated body at the 1967 Winternationals car show he traded the Milk Truck to its owner, coincidentally future show car builder and promoter Bob Reisner. Bob had bought the distinctively sharp looking 1915 T-Bucket from L.A. Roadsters member, Don Oaks. Here’s the story on how that influential T-Bucket came about.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

At the time, Dan Woods lived in Paramount which is adjacent to Downey on the west, so Danny and Jack had many opportunities to see Dan Woods’ newly acquired, sleek T-Bucket. The body on Woods’ T was drawing much attention for its sectioned low sides and high back look. “If he cut his body 4 inches, then we’ll cut ours 6 inches,” and thus was born the low-slung Leg Show T-Bucket look.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

They later learned that Dan Woods’ body had not been cut as much as they thought (only 3″ instead of 4″), thereby giving theirs an even more radical appearance. Keep in mind that this is all done by young guys in home garages. In fact, the Leg Show body resided for a while in Danny’s mother’s living room.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

If you wonder where the name came from, you need look no further than this under construction photo and picture an attractive mini-skirted female in place of Danny. By the late 60s, the mini skirt trend was tapering off because they just couldn’t get any more mini and skimpy hot pants were just taking off, so the term “leg show” was prominent in popular culture. Of course, the T body didn’t have opening doors and the cut down sides made entering and exiting much easier than with conventional T-Buckets.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

This was all planned by Danny and drawn up with a fellow serviceman while Danny was in Vietnam. The plan began to be executed by Jack Keef, 7600 miles away in Downey — not such an easy thing to do back then. At about the same time, Jack Keef also began a 7-year build on another extremely radical show car, Stage Fright.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Danny had a little bit of money set aside for the Leg Show T-Bucket build before entering the service and he also saved flight pay and hazardous duty pay, along with some entrepreneurial endeavors, to fund the build. As Danny would get money, he’d send funds to Jack with a wish list. Sometimes it worked out. Other times it didn’t. In the pic above you’ll see the distinctive super-deep-dish steering wheel that was like those being built at J&J Chassis in nearby Cerritos when Dan Woods worked there.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

They bought a set of Halibrand mag wheels for the rear of the car and sent them out to be polished. The polisher, however, got carried away and ground down the distinctive Halibrand bead around the wheel openings and they ended up looking like the less desirable Ansens. Jack had already gotten some super-wide, 19-1/2 inch, Buick Skylark wire wheels from the late Don Thelen (who would later be one of the builders on the ZZ Top Eliminator among other notable rods) to use on his Stage Fright so they got used on the Leg Show instead with some equally fat Goodyear low profile rubber.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

They bought a Crower-cammed 327 cubic inch Chevy junior fueler motor with Hilborn injectors, intending for the motor to go into Leg Show T-Bucket and the fuel injection system to be used on Stage Fright. Later, through his good relationship with Dean Moon, Jack ended up with a rare Gurney-Westlake Weber-carbed Ford engine that would be used in Stage Fright and the Hilborns were then available for the Leg Show along with Offenhauser finned valve covers and a Joe Hunt magneto

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Initially, the Leg Show used 19″ Moon dragster front spoke wheels. Later, they swung a deal with Hallcraft to get the new 16″ Hallcrafts at cost in turn for Hallcraft being able to use a pic of the Leg Show in their catalog, which they did. The spoked rims were wrapped with 3.00 x 16 Inoue motorcycle tires. (Hallcraft was so accommodating that when Danny later experienced a crash with the Leg Show that they replaced the wheels for free).

Early Times member Tom Booth, who built a stunning gold torsion-suspended T-Bucket that was featured in Hot Rod magazine, helped make the Chevy engine look great by getting everything smoothed out with a die grinder.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Jim Babb was another Early Times member and his expertise in fabricating brass radiators for Fad T’s played a big role in some of the distinctive Leg Show features. The Babb built low-profile brass Model-T look radiator was 6 inches thick because it was made up of two radiator cores with spacing and louvers in between for effective cooling with an 80/20 ethylene glycol mix without the use of a fan, which would take away from a clean engine appearance. The low-profile radiator was filled from a unique octagonal brass surge tank built by Babb and he applied the octagonal theme to other features on the car like the headlamps, cowl lights, mirrors, brake lights and fuel tank, as well as numerous brackets.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

A nice view of the Goodyear 14.70×15 CanAm Indy tires and Jim Babb’s unique octagonal fuel tank and tail lights, as well as Danny’s Early Times club plaque. Danny used a 1950 Oldsmobile rear axle with considerably shorter gears than the standard 3.23:1 ratio. You’ll also note that while Leg Show used the traditional Model T arched rear spring that Danny was a bit ahead of the curve again by utilizing Airheart disc brakes.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Another unique feature of the Leg Show was that it had no dashboard, which also gave greater visibility to the mohair stitching by master upholsterer, Eddie Martinez, who had done the interior of Ed Roth’s “Outlaw”. For cruising purposes, Danny switched out the Hilborn fuel injection for a more sedate four barrel intake that was covered with a unique Babb-constructed air cleaner which housed water temperature and oil pressure gauges in the back which were read by Danny through the windshield.

The original Candy Red paint was applied by Larry Watson.

Leg Show T-Bucket Premiers at Grand National Roadster Show

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

After Dan’s return from Vietnam, work on the Leg Show began in earnest, but Danny, Jack and their friends all had full-time jobs and not a great deal of spare time. They were up until 2:00 a.m. before they made the journey north to Oakland for the Leg Show’s debut at the 1970 Grand National Roadster Show.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Of course, the dramatically different Leg Show won the Street Roadster class at Oakland. Unfortunately, they couldn’t contend for the America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy because they didn’t have enough time to get Leg Show running, which was one of the AMBR requirements.

Danny Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

A nice view of the tuned length individual exhaust headers which exited the rear in staggered fashion, with Yamaha motorcycle exhaust baffles inserted to make things just a bit more easy on the ears. The winner of the giant America’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy that year was Andy Brizio with his “Instant T”.

Danny Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

At the show, they got to know Andy as well as his young son, Roy Brizio, and on a later trip to Southern California by the Brizio family Roy had the opportunity to go for a mind-blowing ride at Ascot Park in Jack Keef’s T-Bucket, which by that time had sidedraft Webers.

Leg Show Jack Keef Stage Fright
Jack Keef’s T-Bucket, Stage Fright, and Danny Eichstedt’s Leg Show

Returning from Oakland, Danny and friends had to take 15 minute shifts driving due to their own lack of sleep and the fact they all had to be at work the next morning.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

What a beautiful view through the etched glass windshield of the Leg Show T-Bucket.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Artfully etched glass was coming into its own in the show car and hot rod world then and was a nice way to not only enhance the look of a show car but to also win extra judging points.

Danny Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

The fact that fellow Early Times club member Jim “Jake” Jacobs was Associate Editor at Rod & Custom at the time is purely coincidental because the Leg Show T-Bucket earned its cover car status from its incredible reception at the Oakland show. When the eventful day came that photographer Darryl Norenberg shot the Leg Show T-Bucket for the R&C cover and feature story, in keeping with the car’s name they tried photographing it with a pert young lady, but alas those shots didn’t make it past conservative editorial scrutiny.

Thanks to the Petersen SEMA Digitization Project, there are a few never-before-seen photos that help tell the story of this inspirational T-Bucket hot rod.

1970 Early Times Car Club of Los Angeles Picnic – Long Beach California -Richard Graves to the right of Danny Eichstedt

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

Originally, Dan planned to commit Leg Show to racking up series points in car shows, but found it was just too much fun actually driving it. And drive it, he did. Not too long after Oakland, Danny departed Downey for the 400+ mile round trip to the Visalia Roadster Round-Up, where naturally Leg Show won the People’s Choice award. In the photo above, taken at Visalia, you’ll note some changes such as the four-barrel intake instead of FI, Ansen wheels instead of the deep dish wires, and a change in color. The rear wheel change was to accommodate rubber more suitable for the long trip, while the intake and the color will be covered in Part 2.

Dan Eichstedt Leg Show T-Bucket

In a span of almost 5 years, a hot rod concept in Danny Eichstedt’s mind came together with the able assistance of Jack Keef and other friends and Early Times car club members. With a budget of just a little over $5,000 much creativity and home garage ingenuity Danny Eichstedt unleashed on the hot rod world the truly mind-blowing Leg Show T-Bucket. But this is only the first part of the story. The second part covers even more Leg Show changes and one of the most monumental trips every taken by a show-winning T-Bucket.

Leg Show T-Bucket

To see much more and discover how Danny Eichstedt drove his Leg Show T-Bucket cross country, be sure to check out Part II.

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21 thoughts on “Leg Show T-Bucket and Danny Eichstedt Blow Traditional Hot Rod Minds, Part 1”

  1. Thank you for the article. It’s readings like this that keep me rolling in the garage. I acquired a Total Performance T Bucket a few years back. It has been a constant work in progress. I did some work on the body, putting a door on the passenger side, new floor. Thickened the body a few layers. Cut the back and extended it 4” to accommodate a lager fuel cell, (as this is my daily driver) and put the battery back there as well. Changed all running lights to era correct lanterns, the head lamps are Dietz 1907 carriage lanterns. It has been a great time doing this. I enjoy working on it as much as I drive it. The greatest joy is the children at that see it, I will let them get in and take pictures and hit the old time horn. It brings a smile to their face, I hope it sparks an interest in keeping the hot rod culture going.
    Again thanks for the article
    Dwaine

    Reply
  2. Thank you for the article. It’s readings like this that keep me rolling in the garage. I acquired a Total Performance T Bucket a few years back. It has been a constant work in progress. I did some work on the body, putting a door on the passenger side, new floor. Thickened the body a few layers. Cut the back and extended it 4” to accommodate a lager fuel cell, (as this is my daily driver) and put the battery back there as well. Changed all running lights to era correct lanterns, the head lamps are Dietz 1907 carriage lanterns. It has been a great time doing this. I enjoy working on it as much as I drive it. The greatest joy is the children at that see it, I will let them get in and take pictures and hit the old time horn. It brings a smile to their face, I hope it sparks an interest in keeping the hot rod culture going.
    Again thanks for the article
    Dwaine

    Reply
  3. Hi Dan,
    I am Dave Jongerius, My dad larry from J&J Chassis did some work on your car. It was fun to talk about this project with him. Do you have any pictures of the car? I would like to give him one. Thanks

    Reply
  4. Hi Danny, I don’t know if you’ll remember me but…I am Carlos E. Ponzio, from São Paulo City, Brazil, who wrote a letter to you in 1973, trying to get some tips, in order to build my own hot rod based in your “Leg Show” design, published at Rod & Custon Magazine dated on January, 1971.
    No, unfortunately I didn’t build mine. I was a youngsher mad for hot rods but with no resourses and no technical knowledge to do it. The time flew by and I became a mechanical engineer still mad for cars, motorcycles and motosports in general. In 1976 I founded a little company called Toya Motorcycles ( by the way… Toya is my nickname) specialized in customized bikes, following the Cafe Racer design. After 15 years, I sold my company and, due to my knowledge in fiberglass process, I worked for Hobby Cat Brazil. I made my trainning at the Hobby Cat Headquaters, in Oceanside, California. I worked there for three years and the company was sold. After some months, I began to work for Mead Packaging Brazil, an American Company based in Atlanta, GA, and worked for them for eleven years. After Mead, I became an engineering and design teacher at Facamp University in Campinas, SP, Brazil, and stayed there for eight years. Now, I am sixty five years old and retired, but I am designing a fairing for Triumph Thruxton motorcycle… as we say in Brazil: “The wolf loses his hair but does not lose his habit”.

    Today, cleaning up my mess in an old closet, I found the Rod & Custon Magazine and and the letter you sent me, on may 7th, 1971 and it was a huge surprise! So, I tried to find you by Google and wrote these few lines.
    Do you still live in Downey, California, USA? I’d like to ear from you soon !
    Sincerely,
    Carlos

    Reply
  5. John,

    If I recall that R&C feature correctly more than one photo included a reflection of the young lady in question. I always enjoy the one step beyond designs.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  6. Hi John,
    Thanks for the great article,can’t wait for the second part.Such a mind blowing,iconic car.Fantastic to see all those construction photos.

    Reply
    • Thanks Paul. I should say that some of your countrymen have built some pretty mind-blowing T-Buckets, too and I’m looking forward to doing stories on a couple before long. Your own C-Cab project has the potential for not only a great story but another great looking T, so continue to keep us updated.
      John

      Reply
  7. John,
    Thank You,
    It was great meeting with you and now seeing this come out it was all worth it.
    Yes, it was a great time to have a Hot Rod.
    And Dave you build your 29 roadster pick up your way not what others want it to be.
    not every one likes my cars.
    I did not build them for them I built them for me.
    I cant Thank You enough.
    Dan Eichstedt

    Reply
    • Dan,
      It was a pleasure getting to know you and I really appreciate how helpful you were in putting this story together. Your photographs are a treasure and I’m sure will inspire many more T-Bucket builders to come. Now, I’m looking forward to completing Part 2 of the Leg Show story, which is just as good. Thanks again,
      John

      Reply
  8. John,
    Everytime I read an article like this, I think about how great it would’ve been to live in an era like that. They were just doing the kind of thing I do every night in my garage at home, yet got recognized as something special. Now I’m building a 27 roadster PU with a real-size bed in my garage and hardly anyone even thinks it’s cool. I just don’t get the hot rodding people today??? Ah, the good-ole days.
    Dave

    Reply
  9. Ahhhh those were the days! I certainly appreciate this article. These articles bring to the forefront the genre of T-Buckets that led to today’s dreams! Thanks so much – – -!

    Reply
  10. I really appreciate seeing this !!!!! Thank you John. Tell me if I can have this format in a small magazine. I want something to see and read instead of turning on a computer. Please reply.

    Reply
    • Unfortunately, Jim, the day of print magazines is drawing to a close for all but a few with huge circulations and tremendous advertising support. We’ve lost Rod & Custom, Popular Hot Rodding and untold others. But, fortunately, the Internet exists just for this type of material for a select audience. Thanks again.

      Reply

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