It speaks volumes about the lasting impact a hot rod show car built 50 years ago has when a replica model car of that rod sells today for anywhere from $285 to sometimes over $500! Of course, that would never happen unless it was a rod that was so singularly unique and different in its dramatic appearance and advanced mechanical elements that it was featured in leading magazines and won Sweepstakes in every show in which it was entered during its time, became a featured touring show car and was immortalized in a Big Daddy Roth cartoon.
In about March of 1960, a classmate of Steve Scott’s drew a wild looking hot rod in a cartoon. When everyone agreed it would make an awesome car, but would be impossible to build, Steve said, “If you can think of something, you can create it.” He knew immediately that he had to do it, just to prove it to himself. Thus was born one of the 1960s most famous hot rods: the Steve Scott Uncertain T.
I was hugely influenced by the Steve Scott Uncertain T and two years ago wrote a post expressing my admiration for Steve Scott’s work with the objective that it might enlighten younger aspiring car builders who came along after that era, which to me was the true golden age of hot rodding. Little did I know at the time that I would actually come into contact with Steve and that he would take the time to correct some of the factual errors in my earlier post. Now, I’m happy to repost the true story with some newly added elements.
If you’re already a fan of “The Uncertain-T”, or about to become one, you can learn more at www.SteveScottsUncertainT.com. I also recommend you visit www.facebook.com/SteveScottsUncertainT and become a Friend to stay up-to-date on “The Uncertain-T” developments.
After that initial cartoon exposure, five years later in its November, 1965 issue, Car Craft magazine featured “The Uncertain-T”. How about a cutaway on the cover, a 3-page feature story, a mini-feature on how to scratch build a model of the car, and the introduction of a young Steve Scott as Associate Editor.
Much has been written about “The Uncertain-T”, so I won’t go into detail about the scratch built exaggerated T body, the injected Buick nailhead engine and tons of innovative suspension and driveline work, including rack and pinion steering and torsion bar front suspension.
Alert Car Craft readers would have seen a small preview pic of “The Uncertain-T” in the May ’65 issue in which it had the enviable honor of racing down the Bakersfield quarter mile after the Top Fuel eliminator showdown to fetch “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and return him to the starting line for the trophy presentation. Steve says that Don didn’t want to go back, he wanted to keep driving around.
Coincidentally, this was all happening about the same time that the hot rod world saw the introduction of Dan Woods’ cartoonish “Milk Truck”. Thus, a whole new era of show cars was born.
It should also be noted that not only was Steve an accomplished car builder, but also an excellent photographer and a promoter of the first order; all of which helped ensure huge success for “The Uncertain-T”.
This is a scoop! Nobody has ever asked Steve about this, but his meticulous bookkeeping showed that the entire project cost over $15,000 from start to finish, including the large garage workshop that he had to build and outfit, a custom ugly trailer, 2 larger cameras for publicizing the “T”, 2 custom paint jobs, a second set of rear tires and rims, and so on. When you think of $15,000, it was a lot of money at the time, but in perspective, that’s only $3,000 per year. Steve’s family was poor, and his father died soon after he started creating “The Uncertain-T”, so he worked many different jobs, including building homes as a Journeyman Carpenter in the exploding housing market in the San Fernando Valley. On the car show circuit Steve was able to pull down from $400 to $1000 per appearance.
At the time of its Car Craft appearance, “The Uncertain-T” had been a sweepstakes winner at the ’65 NHRA Winternationals, the ’65 Oakland Roadster Show, the Seattle Custom Auto Show and many others… it won Sweepstakes in every show it had entered since early in 1965.
The following newspaper story offers some nice information and insight into “The Uncertain-T” phenomenon at that time.
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$15,000 and Work Make “The Uncertain-T” Certain to Draw Spectators at Show
Great Falls Tribune, Wednesday, April 28, 1965
Take $15,000, three years of hard work and a knowledge of physics and you have the ingredients for “The Uncertain-T”.
What started out as a joke, now brings anywhere from $400 to $1,000 for an appearance at an automobile show.
The high-powered show car and street hotrod, built and owned by Steve Scott of Northridge, Calif., will be the star attraction of the Central Montana Timing Association’s annual show in the Mercantile Building at the Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday.
Scott said the car is an “abstract characterization” of a Model T Ford, but it has only four parts Ford Motor Co. would recognize — radiator shell, headlights, radiator cap heat indicator and steering wheel.
General Motors and Harley-Davidson were not bypassed in the construction of the hotrod. Under all the chrome is a 1958 Buick engine and it has a Pontiac automatic transmission. The front wheels are modified motorcycle wheels.
Everything else was designed and built by Scott or for him specifically for this car. When not building or showing cars, Scott is a physics major at San Fernando Valley State College and this has proved of great value in the past three years.
His knowledge of physics has helped him to overcome many problems in the construction of the car, such as the unique feature that it does not have a drive shaft. “There just wasn’t room,” Scott said. The transmission bolts right into the rear end.
Despite the fact that Scott did most of the work himself, he has more than $15,000 tied up in the hotrod. The paint job alone, a salmon-colored, metalflake acrylic, has 40 coats and cost more than $600.
The body is fiberglass and was molded by Scott. He also built the front and rear suspension systems, starting with little more than metal rods.
The car was completed in January of this year and has been judged the best in every show it has been entered in. The showing here will be No. 11.
The car started as a cartoon drawing by a friend, but 22-year-old Scott felt it could be built and made functional. He drafted blueprints and set to work on it, giving up several times for lack of funds or ideas before it was completed.
“The Uncertain- T” has already been featured in several hotrod magazines and more articles are planned for this fall.
The “abstract characterization” will be shown with about 30 other cars from Montana in the weekend show, but it’s certain, the Steve Scott Uncertain T will be the showstopper.
In the July, 1967 issue of Hot Rod magazine, “The Uncertain-T” was for sale in a small classified ad at the bargain price (compared to the build cost) of $7000. Steve says that it was a prank, that he most certainly didn’t place the ad. Everybody must have guessed this, because absolutely no replies were received.
You can learn more at: www.SteveScottsUncertainT.com. Let us know if your own T-Bucket interests or activities have been influenced in some way by the Steve Scott Uncertain T, or if you have any additional interesting information, photos, etc., by posting a comment below. I also recommend you visit www.facebook.com/SteveScottsUncertainT and become a Friend to stay most up-to-date on the Steve Scott Uncertain T developments.
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