Those Crazy Kiwi T-Bucket Bodies

Who would have thought that T-Bucket hot rods would be possibly more popular in New Zealand than in the U.S.A.? With a population of 4.3 million (about the same as the state of Kentucky), I’ll venture the Kiwi’s have the most T-Buckets per capita of any country in the world!
New Zealand T-Bucket 6
And, the New Zealand T-Bucketeers are very performance oriented with a high percentage being able to “walk the walk” in the quarter mile in addition to cruising the streets.
New Zealand T-Bucket 2
As you start to take in the wide range and variety of Kiwi T-Buckets, though, you get that nagging feeling that there’s something different about them. Subtle, but different. Have you noticed it yet?
New Zealand T-Bucket 4
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer — it’s the cowl. Take a close look.
New Zealand T-Bucket 5
Not all, but seemingly a large portion of the New Zealand T-Buckets I’ve seen, have this unique cowl configuration.
New Zealand T-Bucket 8
Basically, the cowl where the windshield stanchions attach appears wider than on a normal T-Bucket, as if the body preceding it has been widened. From there, it necks sharply straight down to a curved cowl-within-a-cowl that connects to the firewall.
New Zealand T-Bucket 1
What’s cool is that even a body made specifically for drag racing features the same unique cowl.
New Zealand T-Bucket 3
I’ve also learned that, due to strict vehicle safety regulations, these New Zealand T-Bucket bodies have to incorporate some rather extensive steel reinforcement.
New Zealand T-Bucket 7
But, try as I might, I still haven’t been able to learn how this particular T-Bucket body configuration came to be, who makes them, or even whether they’re still in production. We get a lot of New Zealand visitors to TBucketPlans.com and I’m hoping this post will bring forth some more Kiwi information on this fascinating T-Bucket phenomenon. We’re looking forward to your informative “Reply” posts.

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9 thoughts on “Those Crazy Kiwi T-Bucket Bodies”

  1. Being from New Zealand I’ve always wondered about the 2 different T Bucket bodies produced there. I built the bucket in the first picture in the mid 80’s and sold it before I left NZ for Canada around 1990. It’s changed a little since I owned it. I always like the bigger size of the body and it was comfortable to drive and I never felt cramped driving it. I got to drive it again back in 2014 when I was down in NZ visiting family. Driving a T Bucket is still the most fun you can have wearing clothes.

    Reply
  2. Hi, in NZ, we have “big” bodied buckets (the Britwell/Koop de Glass one) and “small” bodied ones (The Glass Repro ones). The bigger ones have the unusual cowl and are 52 inches long and the smaller ones are 44 inches long.

    As we bucket folk get older and wider, the bigger bodies are a lot better for us. Mine is the second pikky shown there, and the heyday of buckets was the mid 70s when the NZ Hot Rod magazine built “Project T” (the fifth pikky down). We are having a renewal of interest in them now – I guess we are old enough to want to relive our youth, but not too old that we cant get into our buckets still.

    The steel cradle in the pikky was made for the Koop de Glass body, and make it a lot easier to put a new bucket build on the road down here now.

    Reply
    • Thank you very much, Todd, for that great information on New Zealand T-Bucket bodies. I didn’t know that, but I am fascinated by your T builds there. It seems that many more are dual purpose street and strip than here in the U.S. and the performance definitely seems to be at a higher level. Now, if I can only find a copy of that old NZ Hot Rod magazine because I’d really like to see how their Project T came together. Really appreciate your input, Hot Rod Todd!

      Reply
  3. The reason there is a lot of T Bucket bodies the same is very simple.There is not much choice.The wider looking bodies are from Koop de glass up in Taranaki,N.Z and the more traditional bodies are from Glass Reproductions in Christchurch,N.Z.
    We don’t require that much steelwork to frame out the body,that example earlier is extreme.
    We don’t have the “kit” T Buckets like you have in U.S.A,which would make life a lot easier.
    Not so long ago,about 20 years or so,New Zealand almost lost the ability to build hot rods as the Government at the time wanted them to comply to all the standards a modern motor car had to and thus if it were not for a group of dedicated hot rodders that managed to set up a self governed certifying system,this whole culture may have come to a screaming holt.

    Reply
  4. The reason there is a lot of T Bucket bodies the same is very simple.There is not much choice.The wider looking bodies are from Koop de glass up in Taranaki,N.Z and the more traditional bodies are from Glass Reproductions in Christchurch,N.Z.
    We don’t require that much steelwork to frame out the body,that example earlier is extreme.
    We don’t have the “kit” T Buckets like you have in U.S.A,which would make life a lot easier.
    Not so long ago,about 20 years or so,New Zealand almost lost the ability to build hot rods as the Government at the time wanted them to comply to all the standards a modern motor car had to and thus if it were not for a group of dedicated hot rodders that managed to set up a self governed certifying system,this whole culture may have come to a screaming holt.

    Reply
  5. Theres a few places that the bucket bodies are made here – this is one = http://www.koopdeglass.co.nz

    There popular here because they are light, fast and even with a relatively small banger you can get some quick times going. not to mention they are fun and easy to build at home.

    Reply
  6. That’s great information, Glenn. I wasn’t aware of that. I’ve noticed that T-Buckets have been a popular hot rod in Australia for many years, with many of the early ones being powered by my favorite engine, the Y-block Ford. Maybe we’ll also hear from some New Zealand T-Bucket fans who can give us the inside scoop on their unique fiberglass bodies. Thanks for the input.
    John

    Reply
  7. Australia also has unusual T Ford bodies.This came about as a result of import restrictions due to lack of shipping capacity during the war of 1914-1918. Chassis’ only were imported and bodies were made locally.There were coach builders all over the country producing bodies and not just Fords.These restrictions were eased in the early 1920’s. I hope this is helpful info as this may have also been the case in N.Z.

    Reply

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