The T-Bucket Ford is a product of the Model T Ford, built by the Ford Motor Company between 1908 and 1927. There were over 15 million Model T Fords produced over those 19 years, making it one of the most easily found and commonly modified vehicles of the Antique Car Era.
1923 Ford T-Bucket *
Hot Rods and Roadsters came about in the late 1940s following World War II, when thousands of veterans wanted fun-to-drive vehicles at affordable prices. Detroit automakers gradually tried to meet the demand by offering bigger engines and a barrage of accessories but jobs were hard to find and many young men found that it was cheaper to modify used cars or build their own from junkyard parts. One such man was Norm Grabowski who created a custom body by removing everything except the "bucket" from a 1922 Model T Touring Car and then adding the back end of the Model A Ford pickup truck to the rear. The front end, chassis, suspension and drivetrain were similarly scrounged parts and he topped it all off with a 1952 Cadillac V-8 engine sitting under a GMC blower. The result was the biggest engine in the lightest body that anybody had ever seen on the streets of Southern California. And when Grabowski's "T-Bucket" was featured in the TV show 77 Sunset Strip he became an icon of want-to-be hot rodders everywhere.
1921 Ford T-Bucket Roadster
T-Bucket Fords are as popular as ever but the original body parts have become scarce so many are now fiberglass replicas. In fact, you can now buy complete kits that include the front end, frame and body; with or without the stubby pickup bed on the back and with or without a canvas or hard top. The radiators and trim are usually brass to depict the antique car era and the engine and accessories are typically loaded with chrome and/or polished aluminum. Motorcycle wheels are the preferred choice for the front tires to ad contrast to the rear tires, which are usually as big and mean-looking as one can afford. And the purest will use a vertical windshield and steering column, as Henry Ford did 100 years ago.
Drivers of the Ford T-Bucket quickly learn that while they are fun to drive the perception of power and speed is exactly that - a perception - because the rear end is far too light to provide much traction.
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