If there is one thing that might draw all hot rodders together it’s the fact they all like to see, study, and fiddle with anything mechanical. From steam locomotives to mouse traps, rodders would rather take something apart to see how it works rather than keep it together and keep wondering.
So you want “different?” How about a 409 (bumped to 421 cubes) topped with a six-pack of D
Jeff Hall, living in San Diego, California, has a lot of those curious qualities, which is why he chose to build a T-bucket. Now 63 years old, Jeff still remembers a friend who was putting one together when he was in high school. The simplicity of the form and the mechanical nature of its design appealed to him, and it’s a concept he never forgot. But college, career, and raising a family were more important, so the idea was shelved—at least that was the case until 10 years ago. That’s when Jeff was at a local strip mall and found a T roadster parked in one of the stalls. He walked around about a dozen times taking in everything that was presented, and that’s all it took: the fire was reignited.
Jeff spent more than a year researching available companies that could supply the right parts and, through the Internet, going to shows, and interviewing owners he found himself at California Custom Roadsters (CCR) in Chino, California. Jeff liked the heavier CCR frame and suspension, plus how the front suspension mounts and, after meeting CCR’s Diane and Jerry Keifer, he ordered a pile of parts.
But that car is not the one pictured here. Because Jeff and his wife, Kathy, like to cruise around San Diego a lot, and realizing you can’t fit all four members of their family in one T-bucket, Jeff finished up the one car before starting a second one for himself. Having had a good experience with CCR, Jeff decided to go back there to order more parts (including a chassis and body), but this time he wanted something different in the engine category.
Small-block Chevys were too common and he didn’t want a Ford, and he wasn’t sure about a Hemi but, based on thoughts he’d had decades ago, he was leaning for something different—something like a 409. As fate would have it, Jeff ran into a guy at a cruise who had a spare ’64 409 in parts (it only had seven pistons) and it was lying in the grass in his backyard with the usual rust and crud. But he bought it anyway and began a rebuild.
California Custom Roadsters offers a “drop-in” interior where you order the color and mate
The block went to HDS Auto Parts and Machine in nearby Escondido where it was bored 0.060 (making it 421 cubes). Jeff did the assembly and used Chevy 454 rods (which are longer than the 409’s), the original crank, Ross pistons (set up with 10:1 compression), and an Isky camshaft. To that he bolted up a set of 817 heads (bigger valves, smaller combustion chamber), Crane full roller rockers (1.75:1), and a special induction system.
The original Offenhauser six-two intake manifold (produced for Holley 94s or Stromberg 97s) was modified by Jeff to include 1.75-inch riser blocks so the carb linkage he designed would clear the valve covers. The linkage is progressive, so the center two carbs do most of the work while the corner carbs only come on when he really gets into it. The carbs he went with are Demon 98s, and Jeff had Goppworks Welding fab some intake horns so he’d end up with small, medium, then large stacks for a stepped appearance. The motor is backed to a Hughes TH350, but Jeff hopes to change it out for a 700-R4 equipped with a manual valvebody and B&M linkage when he gets a chance.