Practicality takes a back seat to fun with today’s Nice Price or No Dice Bucket T. That is, it would if this hot rod had a back seat. As it is, there are barely any amenities at all. Could all that parsimony add up to its nearly $10,000 asking?
I’d like you to help me out with a bit of an experiment. What I want you to do is go to a grocery store or your neighborhood bodega and seek out the soda aisle. Once there, I want you to grab five of those big soda bottles; you know, the one-liter size. Pick a favorite brand if you want. Now, hoist those up in your arms. That doesn’t really feel like all that much does it?
And yet, when volumetrically applied as the displacement of the engine in yesterday’s 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500E, that same five liters produces a solid 322 horsepower. I know, math… whoa. As hard as it may be to wrap your head around that, the Merc’s $39,500 price proved even harder. As desirable as the car may be, that price tag doomed it to a huge 81 percent No Dice loss.
Yesterday’s Mercedes may have been a milestone car for the German brand, but it never rose to the iconic level of fame that would see it enshrined in song. In fact, it takes a very special car to get its own song. You can see that with the likes of the GTO (Pontiac, not Ferrari), Shelby Cobra, and the Ford “Deuce Coupe” having been thusly feted.
Today we’re looking at a car that is so important in automotive history that not only does it have its own song, but that song was recorded by three separate big-name acts in the 1960s. The car is a Bucket T, and the song, as you might expect, is titled “Bucket T.” It’s a little ditty that was recorded by, respectively, Jan & Dean, the Who and Ronny and the Daytonas.
The song was originally composed by Jan Berry and Dean Torrence along with lyricists Rodger Christian and Don Altfeld. It was released by Jan & Dean in 1966 as a single, with “Batman” on the flip side. As noted, the song was covered the same year by another “surf and car” band, Ronny and the Daytonas, as well as by British music icons the Who. That version is notable for having drummer Keith Moon on lead vocals.
OK, so it’s had a song written about it and that tune got some traction back in the day, but what exactly is a Bucket T? Well, as you can see, it’s not much. The whole idea of the car was to take the cheapest car you could find — typically a Ford Model T — and strip off everything you could in order to reduce weight. The result was a frame with an engine and driveline. and a bucket body to sit in and look cool.
This one is stated to be a 1918 Ford Bucket T, but let’s be honest, aside from some rudimentary suspension pieces and that two-piece windshield, there’s nothing remotely 1918 about this car. The bucket body appears to be fiberglass and the frame is extended in dragster fashion. For the front suspension, the car sports a transverse half-elliptic leaf — the automotive equivalent of wearing a handlebar mustache. To that is bolted a solid axle fitted with motorcycle-sized wire-spoke wheels and what look to be bike tires. The solid back axle is coil sprung and wears enormous but ancient-looking Torque Twister tires on Cragar mags.
As is typical of most hot rods of this sort, the engine is a small block Chevy. That’s running a four-barrel carburetor and makes its presence known by way of what looks to be a glass-pack exhaust. Hopefully, the Model T-style radiator has enough flow to keep the Chevy cool. Transmission duty is handled by an automatic.
The ad notes the addition of a new front suspension and dropped axle, a fresh battery and what is described as “rear racing brakes.” It should be noted that those Wilwood discs in the back are the only brakes this car has. Also lacking are any fenders, doors, or other extraneous enclosures save for a surrey top. Despite all of this, the seller claims the car to be street legal and licensed with a clean title.
One of the funniest parts of the song Bucket T is about how “All the girls want to ride with me but there’s only one seat in my Bucket T.” This car has one seat but it looks to have plenty of room for two. And, seeing as it’s an automatic, there won’t be any grab-assing of the gearshift between driver and passenger.
OK, so this custom car represents a model that was venerated in song — the highest honor possible — and looks to be in fairly decent shape for what there is of it. What might that be worth?
The seller is asking $9,500 for the additional honor of buying it. Does that seem like a deal? Or, does that price have you singing a different tune?
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