The Gadberry “Low Bucket”

This is a major update of my original post about David Gadberry’s “Low Bucket” T-Bucket from 2010. You’ll find oodles more great pics, plus you can hear David tell the story of how it all came about in our recent Hooked on T-Bucket Hot Rods Podcast episode at

The Dave Gadberry "Low Bucket" T-Bucket
“Bet I could build one of these — el cheapo.”

The December, 1996 issue of Hot Rod Magazine featured a story by the late Gray Baskerville titled, “Low Bucket — Doin’ a Fad-T for $2.94 a Pound!” After first reading it, I spent countless hours pouring over the three picture-filled pages accompanied by Baskerville’s always entertaining and informative commentary. While I’d been hooked on T-Buckets from around 1959, it wasn’t until four decades later that I had that slap-in-the-head moment when I confidently said to my self, “I can do that.”

What was striking about the Dave Gadberry T, after the 70s and 80s brass ornamental era was its utter simplicity: if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, then it didn’t have it! (Thanks to Hot Rod staffer Will Handzel, who chronicled the budget build of his own ’31 Ford roadster in the September through December 1995 issues, virgin ground had been broken to devote pages in that then-esteemed publication to hot rods that were more than merely “rough around the edges.”)

Dave Gadberry T-Bucket
“Low Bucket — Doin’ a Fad-T for $2.94 a Pound!”

While there were some things about the Gadberry T-Bucket that I wasn’t crazy about, like the non-channeled body, overall it was a very cool low-budget hot rod that certainly appeared achievable by even someone possessing modest talent, tools and budget. By the way, the car was sold a number of times and, as I understand it, now resides on the East Coast and while it has had a few upgrades and changes it is still true to its low-buck hot rod ethos.

Updated version of Dave Gadberry T-Bucket
The Gadberry “Low Bucket” today.

I must not be the only person who appreciated this T-Bucket build and Baskerville’s story. Evidently, it was reprinted in Hot Rod and can be read online almost in its entirety.

David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Starting with cast-off Model A frame, unchanneled fiberglass T body, 4″ dropped I-beam axle and fiberglass Deuce grille shell

Of course, after getting to know David Gadberry he was kind enough to provide me with a treasure trove of additional cool pics of his Low Bucket that should serve as inspiration to anyone with budget T-Bucket hot rod aspirations.

David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Kicked up rear crossmember, early Ford rear axle, 235 Michelins on 15×8″ steelies with ’56 F-100 hubcaps
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Custom-made 17 gallon fuel tank, battery mounted underneath
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
$350 worth of ’72 Chevy junkyard small block and 8 inch Dietz headlights added
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Ready to roll with $425 custom radiator (ouch), Edelbrock intake/Carter carb
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Subtle Butler-built headers within the frame rails and exhaust routed to the back make for a clean look, with standard T-Bucket steering via Corvair box
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Ladies love T-Buckets
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Spartan interior with plywood floor, Deuce dash with trio of Stewart-Warners and Lokar shifter
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
With its new perforated aluminum grille insert, who wouldn’t be proud?
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
Progress continues with nice aluminum side panels
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
And with added louvers, hood, chromed windshield frame and newly painted red wheels with wide whites
David Gadberry Low Bucket T-Bucket
After being sold by David with rust primer and lakes headers added, along with dash insert and more gauges
In all its low-buck glory

To check out and be inspired even more by David Gadberry’s “Low Bucket” have fun scrolling through this cool gallery.

John Morehead
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3 thoughts on “The Gadberry “Low Bucket””

  1. Man, I love this car. I fell in love with it when “Gas Pumper” owned it in Long Beach, CA. I spent countless hours studying it on the HAMB and I had him send me whatever detail pictures and info he could offer. I finally found this article on the Hot Rod website years ago and bookmarked it. I don’t know how many times I’ve visited this article. Over the course of the last number if years I’ve collected enough parts to build a tribute to the version with the full hood. Had I never seen this car, this is the car I would build anyway, but Gadberry nailed it and I gotta give credit where credit is due. I love these lakes mod inspired builds. I gotta finish my tall windshield car with a top first, but this is the car I really, really want to put on the road. All killer, no filler.

  2. The “2X4″ frame is actually a ’28 Model A that was modified quite a lot…..actually took two frames to make one. The first was under a Roadster Pickup that raced at the CA Dry Lakes….a customer came in for a new fabricated frame and I got the cast-off…..the basis for the Low Bucket. It had a crude vertical rear crossmember for coil-overs that was scrapped, then the rear of a very rickety A was used to kick up the rear about 7”, fully boxed and welded. I specifically did not want a “suicide” front end…..I wanted a “Bucket” but with a more traditional suspension arrangement. And I wanted the car to have some “lakes modified” ques while still being a “Bucket”. I’m 6′ 1″ and wanted to sit down in the car as you relayed. It was started in 10/84 and I even toyed with painting the whole car monochromatic refrigerator white – like L’il John Buttera did on one of his cars. I was surrounded by traditional T Buckets, building and driving them at Specialty Cars…..for my own ride I wanted something different. BTW I bought the car back, and along with other projects am toying with it some. We keep breaking the rear-end so modern slide-in axles are next…..and it needs a LOT of love. #thegadberrylowbucket & #gadberrysgarage & #blackjackdeuce on Instagram…..

  3. John, I really like the unchanneled body! A 2×4 rectangular tube frame might not be as pretty as a deuce frame, but it’s not that bad either. Skipping the channel job, IMHO looks great…more mechanical, and there is nothing wrong with looking at a well constructed frame and suspension components. The most discouraging thing about owning and driving a T bucket is the cramped cockpit. Anything you can do to make more room is a very good idea. Skipping installing a conventional automotive seat also helps (use just foam and upholstery Instead, and skip the metal seat framework). The Gadberry T is one of the more inspirational buckets ever built. It just screams, “I could build that”! Wish more were being built.
    Also, wish someone would sell a proportionally enlarged T bucket body. Standard width, so it fits on normal width bucket frames, but a little longer and then proportionally taller. The longer for more leg room, the taller so you sit down in them more! I hate the “looks like you are going to fall out” look.


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