Most already know an oxymoron or two. Jumbo shrimp, army intelligence, maxi thins, and crash landing are all words that, when you really sit down and think about them, don't quite go together.

So when you say "hot rod," most folks don't immediately think "T-bucket." But the fact of the matter is many of the more famous names in hot rodding got their starts building and driving T-buckets back in the day; however, over the years, it seems what many have called "the original hot rod" has been treated more like a forgotten stepchild by mainstream rodders.

That's OK with today's T owners. They know one of the great things about building and owning a T-bucket is they are the ultimate expression of one's personality. So what happens when you get a few hundred of these renegades together for a celebration of individuality? You get the 9th annual National T-Bucket Alliance T-Bucket Nationals-a couple of days devoted to all things T-related.

Organized a few years ago by some like-minded T owners, the Alliance (www.nationaltbucketalliance.com) has continued to grow since STREET RODDER covered its 4th annual show in the December 2002 issue. Hosted this year by the Arizona T-Buckets (one of the 20 or more clubs that make up the Alliance), the T Nats was a three-day event that was guaranteed to put a few hundred miles on the ol' odometer.

Unlike many other groups of rodders, it seems the main focus of building and owning a T-bucket is to drive it, and these guys really put that theory to the test! Scheduled as a Thursday-through-Saturday event, the festivities actually start with a cruise on Wednesday night for those who check in early.

The Nationals are held in different locations each year, with this year's being in Sierra Vista, Arizona, located in the bottom right corner of the state, only 13 miles from the Mexican boarder. It's a historical area of the country, mostly for its Old West towns, including Tombstone (of Wyatt Earp and O.K. Corral fame).

The Alliance allows any type of T (coupes and roadsters) into its club. But the group also takes any vehicles with a cowl that resembles a T, including Willys, Maxwells, and Dodges-it just has to have that T flavor. About 140 Ts of all shapes and sizes joined in the fun this year, and the event got off to an early start Thursday morning by splitting the faithful into groups. One set of rodders drove 19 miles to the Kartchner Caverns State Park, a recently discovered collection of caves filled with large stalactites.

Another group left for the Queen Mine in Bisbee, a short 25-mile drive across the Arizona desert. Once in Bisbee, the group was loaded onto an open tram and wheeled 1,000 feet into a horizontal mineshaft in the side of a mountain to witness how the area was able to produce more than 8 billion tons of copper ore and other minerals during its 100-year history.

A third group left their hotel for a morning drive through Fort Huachuca, which has been a "working" Army fort since 1882. A museum on site allowed folks to see what it was like in the rugged frontier, well before Arizona became a state in 1912.

After leaving their respective locations, the Bucketheads met up in the early afternoon in Bisbee. The city welcomed T owners and allowed them special downtown parking before they split up to take in the sights of the Victorian-age town and find some lunch.

By 5 p.m. everyone had gotten back to his or her respective hotels, and just in time for the ladies-only Lipstick Run to take place. A favorite among the women who attend the show, the Lipstick Run is a special cruise around town while the husbands hang out in the hotel parking lot waiting for their wives to return. Later in the evening, a Starlight Cruise was organized so T owners could take in the Arizona countryside in the evening when it wasn't so hot (daytime temps had reached 100, but at least it was a dry heat!).

Friday morning the T owners gathered at the local Outback Steakhouse (great tacos, guys!) before heading out en masse for a mini show 'n' shine in nearby Tombstone. Tombstone's legacy is the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and the city has tried to preserve the look of Main Street to keep it the way it looked when Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp had their say with the Clanton boys in 1881. Downtown, the streets are covered in dirt, and you can take in a staged gunfight or two, or belly up to one of the bars in town to wash the desert out of your throat. The Ts were allowed special parking here, too, and were lined up four abreast down the middle of the main street.

After getting back from the Tombstone run, drivers could participate in a poker run, another Lipstick Run, and another Starlight Cruise later in the evening. The big day of the three-day show, of course, was Saturday, where T owners lined up early for a mini parade in Sierra Vista to the Veterans Memorial Park, a large grass facility where the event was held.

With lots of space to display all the cars, parts manufacturers and food vendors ringed the park. In one corner, the NTBA and Arizona T-Buckets set up shop and a microphone to announce raffle prizes (and there were many) as well as the presentation of trophies. Besides the "normal" type of awards (Farthest Traveled, Mayor's Award, etc.), winners were also announced for Closest to the Ground, Best Sunburn on Buckethead, Worst Leakage, and Most Allergic to the Heat, which shows these folks typically think well outside the box.

After the event, thoughts turned to next year's show, which will be the 10th annual gathering-a milestone for any car show. The 10th T Nationals will be held in Springfield, Illinois, and you can get more info on the event, guaranteed to be a big blowout, on the NTBA's Web site. Seeing that there are nearly 800 members of the Alliance living within 500 miles of Springfield, there's a good chance all attendance records will be broken in 2008. So if you used to be a Buckethead, are a Buckethead, or ever thought about being a Buckethead, be sure to include the next T Nationals in your travel plans, and get ready to drive!