T-Bucket History: Marty Hollmann's Hugely Influential T-Bucket

T-Bucket History: Marty Hollmann’s Hugely Influential T-Bucket

Martin Hollmann is without a doubt the most underrated T-bucket builder of the 50’s and 60’s.

Marty Hollmann T-Bucket Hot Rod
I first wrote about Marty’s T-Bucket three years ago and since that time we’ve gained many new followers and added many new posts to our blog, so it’s quite likely this is the first time you’re seeing this.

Martin Hollmann's 1915 T-Bucket

Martin Hollmann’s 1915 T-Bucket

The T-Bucket Hat Trick

How so, you say? Sure, Grabowski and Ivo built awesome buckets that have inspired generations that followed. But, what other 19-year-old (born in Berlin, Germany, no less) creates such a unique, beautifully proportional T-bucket that it achieves the hat trick of hot rodding: the covers of Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Rod & Custom — all within a 15 month period!

Martin Hollmann T-Bucket

I first saw Marty’s T-bucket on the cover of the January 1961 Car Craft and was fascinated by it. At the time, I was only 12 and didn’t truly understand the beauty of symmetry, but I knew I loved this T-bucket. The T grille shell was sized and positioned to allow the finned Weiand valve covers to be perfectly visible above its angular sides. And that ’49 Olds V8 appeared massive — it was as wide as the bucket’s firewall!

The profile photos showed a T-bucket that appeared more rakish than those of Grabowski and Ivo. Only later did I learn that there was a significant difference between Marty’s 1915 T body and the later models used by Norm and TV Tommy. I was so taken with the look of Marty’s T that it influences what I’m doing today in building a T-Bucket.

Martin Hollmann T-Bucket

When Marty’s T appeared on the cover of the March 1961 Hot Rod, it was paired with Norm’s T touring. Coincidentally, Marty and Norm Grabowski were friends. Norm was member #10 and Marty was member #11 of the L.A. Roadsters club. I’m sure the friendship also helped when Marty’s T appeared, less windshield, in the 15th episode of the 4th season of 77 Sunset Strip as the “Chrome Coffin”. As further proof of this bucket’s mass appeal, it was used in such movies as “Bikini Beach” and “Son of Flubber” and other TV shows like Dobie Gilles and Westinghouse Playhouse.

Marty Hollmann T-Bucket Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

Marty Hollmann T-Bucket Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

Marty Hollmann’s T-Bucket in TV series, “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”

Marty’s bucket was also the car that the Lindberg “Bobtail T” model was based upon. Maybe not officially — but it most certainly was a dead-nuts knockoff. This was a huge 1/8 scale model that even came with a small DC motor to power it. Lindberg still makes the “Bobtail T” (now with a list price of $99). It’s been such a venerable model kit that Lindberg even cloned it in another color and offers it as the “Big Red Rod”. You can see clay humanoid classic cartoon character, Gumby, tooling around in a Bobtail T in the funny little video below

I learned from Marty that he never received a cent in model car royalties. It seems Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was one of the few hot rodders back then lucky enough to have a licensing agreement with a model car company.

Just in case you might have any lingering doubts about how cool Marty’s T-bucket was, here are a couple of other facts to note: Chassis guru, Kent Fuller, helped Marty in the construction and the shiny black finish was applied by an up and coming young painter named Don Prudhomme.

My Marty Hollmann T-Bucket Video

Before his passing, Martin operated one of the world’s leading independent aircraft design and engineering firms, Aircraft Designs, Inc. I’m such an admirer of Marty and his influential T-Bucket that I put together a short video so that you’ll have an opportunity to also become a fan!

Follow me

John Morehead

Founder at TBucketPlans.com
T-Bucket fanatic since 1957 when my 8 year old eyes became glued to a full page LIFE magazine photo of Norm Grabowski in the wildest hot rod I had ever seen! I later discovered the fascinating T-Buckets of TV Tommy Ivo, Marty Hollmann, Bob Johnston and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s T-Bucket inspired Outlaw. I was hooked for life on T-Bucket hot rods!

TBucketPlans.com originated in 2005 as a personal blog extolling the virtues of T-Buckets. In 2009 I blogged about Chester Greenhalgh, the "how to" genius who wrote the legendary, out-of-print “How to Build a T-Bucket Roadster for Under $3000”. That led to a friendship with Chester and our partnership in marketing the updated eBook version of his T-Bucket building bible. The T-Bucket fire burns stronger and stronger.
Follow me

Latest posts by John Morehead (see all)

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below