The T-Bucket Roadster has been a staple of hot rodding ever since, well… ever since there’s been hot rodding. One look at Rick Horne’s roadster will tell you why. It’s beautiful. It’s quick. It’s very, very cool. And as Rick says, “It’s bad to the bone.”
Rick found his roadster in a barn last year. “It was kind of falling apart,” he told me. “It had an inch of grunge on it. I had to completely re-do it.” That re-do included completely reworking the entire fuel, cooling, electrical, and brake systems.
Fitting for a classic hot rod, Rick’s T-Bucket has a small block Chevy, displacing 305 cubic inches. A 500 cfm Edelbrock four-barrel sits on top of an Edelbrock dual plane intake manifold, taking its cues from the Chevy’s high performance cam. Electronic ignition lights the mixture and the exhaust is sent out the traditional T-Bucket side pipe headers. There are baffles in the main exhaust tubes which give Rick’s bucket a nice throaty, but not too loud, exhaust note.
A GM TurboHydramatic 350 transmission spins a 1978 model rear end with 3.55 gears. The front suspension is the vintage transverse leaf spring combined with wishbone-style control arms. The front spindles are controlled by rack and pinion steering. Rear control arms locate the rear end, which is suspended by coilover shocks. Weighing in at a svelte 1800 pounds, Rick’s T only has rear disk brakes, and Rick says that’s all his hot rod needs for easy stopping.
Those rear shocks are on Rick’s to-do list for the T-Bucket. The current shocks don’t have enough travel. Rick says, “the front end glides over bumps, but the back end just – BAM!” Those new shocks are Rick’s next project.
The interior, complete with “Big Daddy” Ed Roth’s Rat Fink inside for car shows, is a remarkable transformation. The vinyl seat was dark brown when Rick rescued the car, and he used vinyl paint to change it to the perfect red and white you see in the pictures. Even up close, you cannot tell that the upholstery has been painted.
Rick put diamond plate flooring and a polished fuel tank in the trunk. The fiberglass T-Bucket body pops with the bright red paint and features an original 1923 windshield and a custom dashboard made from 100 year old white oak. A complete set of AutoMeter gauges reside in the dash, along with a Bluetooth sound system.
One interesting feature of Rick’s hot rod is the Boyce Motometer radiator cap. The Motometer is an engine temperature gauge. It’s basically a thermometer mounted in a radiator cap. The thermometer reading should not go up into the circle of the gauge, or else you’re overheating. Rick reports that his small block does not. It runs cool all day.
And that’s a good thing because Rick built this car to drive. “This old car has been a blast,” he said. “It gets out of the hole in the blink of an eye and gets up to 70 mph just like that. There’s no ‘death wobble’ from the front end on the highway. I can take my hands off the wheel and go right down the road. This is my #1 vehicle now,”
The only thing that stops him from driving is rain. And the only thing that limits his driving is his hot rod’s auto insurance. That insurance has some stipulations, like ‘no race tracks’ (obvious) and ‘no grocery stores’ (parking lot dents and dings). Other than that, he says, “I drive this thing every day.”
As you can probably guess, Rick gets a lot of compliments on the car. “It gets a lot of attention,” he said. While we were talking, a mom asked if she could put her young daughter on the seat to take a picture and Rick said sure. “That’s the biggest kick I get right there,” he said. “The kids.”
And while most of us get concerned when we see someone texting and driving. Rick has to be concerned about other folks videoing and driving. They’re videoing him as he drives by them! And Rick’s done well at the car shows he’s attended.
The Ford Model T was introduced in October, 1908. My guess is that the first T-Bucket hot rod was on the road in November of that year. Rick’s flawless execution of this hot rodding classic keeps the hot rod legacy going, and he certainly raises the bar for making a great hot rod a daily driver.
Photos by GHR and courtesy of Rick Horne
Click here to see the photos of Rick’s T-Bucket.