T-Bucket Headers History: Sanderson and Andy's Instant T

T-Bucket Headers History

T-Bucket headers are an important component that are easily taken for granted.

T-Bucket headers

They can make all the difference in the overall appearance of a T-Bucket.

T-Bucket headers Isky

As an early example from the 1940s, the Ed Iskenderian “La Cucaracha” T roadster utilized pretty utilitarian, although beautiful in terms of lines and chrome, headers with the three individual ports going into a larger exhaust tube that led back to the car’s rear axle.

T-Bucket Headers Norm Grabowski Lightning Bug

By the early 1950s, Norm Grabowski’s “Lightnin’ Bug” version of his famous T-Bucket carried on the same basic design that Isky used a decade before, although Norm made his with a shorter collector pipe that exited right past the door.

T-Bucket headers Norm Grabowski Kookie

Just a few years later, though, when Norm’s radical makeover turned it into what we now call the Kookie Kar the headers were one of it’s most distinctive features, with three individual staggered pipes emptying into a trucker-like exhaust that followed the lines of the abbreviated pickup bed.

T-Bucket headers TV Tommy Ivo

After checking out Norm’s T-Bucket prior to building his own, Tommy Ivo went with equal length pipes into a collector exiting behind the door for his Buick nailhead engine.

T-Bucket headers Dan Eichstedt Leg Show

Through the 60s and early 70s a wide variety of T-Bucket headers were utilized and the “weed burner” style like on Danny Eichstedt’s “Leg Show” was quite popular.

T-Bucket Headers Big Change Takes Place

T-Bucket Headers Sanderson Andy Brizio

Andy Brizio’s personal Instant T, circa 1967 with Sanderson T-Bucket headers

Around about 1967, though, something was getting started by a couple of hot rodders in Northern California that would have long-term influence on T-Bucket headers. The story is told in a Sanderson Headers ad from May, 1982. It read:

“Fifteen years ago, this month, Andy Brizio and a bunch of his street rodder buddies had an idea for a new car. It was to be a T-roadster but it also had to be available in kit form to anyone anywhere using the exact same parts Andy used in his T to win the Oakland Roadster Show. One of these street rodders was Fred Sanderson. He proposed a bold new design for a street rod header.

A complete self contained exhaust system inside a beautiful show chrome header.

Andy said, ‘Go ahead and build a set and we’ll see how they look.’

Fifteen years and 10,000 sets later we think Andy and Fred had the right idea. It has been the most copied header in the world.

Andy said then, and still says, ‘I only run the best parts on my rods and I wouldn’t sell anything less to my customers.’

This is why, fifteen years later, Andy still runs and recommends Sanderson Headers.

Well, Andy kept on improving his Instant T and entering the Oakland Roadster Show. On his third try in 1970, he took home the coveted American’s Most Beautiful Roadster trophy.

T-Bucket Headers Andy Brizio Instant T Americas's Most Beautiful Roadster

It didn’t take long for Sanderson to capitalize on that success and the rest, as they say is history.

T-Bucket Headers Sanderson ad

Sanderson Headers ad from 1973

As noted, many thousands of the Sanderson T-Bucket headers have been sold over the past 48 years and many thousands more similar headers for T-Buckets have been built by scores of other suppliers. Of course, there is no “standard” T-Bucket header, no should there be simply because T-Buckets are the ideal vehicle for expressing one’s mechanical creativity.

T-Bucket headers wild

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

Related Posts

  • 10000
    The T-Bucket phenomenon was really building momentum by the mid-1960s when Ray Sisemore's multi-part "How to Build a Hot Rod" series began chronicling a bucket build orchestrated by Ted McMullen of U.S. Speed Sport in Santa Fe Springs. Not long after that, a young San Francisco Bay hot rodder who…
  • 10000
    In the Spring of 1957, my 8 year old eyes were transfixed on a full page Life magazine photo of Southern California rod builder Norm Grabowski ...
  • 10000
    Today, July 10. 2019, is Ed Iskenderian's 98th Birthday! We're happy to help celebrate by republishing this story about Ed's legendary T roadster from 2010.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below