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.

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.

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.

The CCR frame uses 3/16-wall, 2x3-inch rectangular tubing and was set up with a 114-inch wheelbase. The axle is a chromed 4-inch-drop tube suspended with a single mono leaf spring and a pair of Pete & Jakes shocks and the radius rods are 54 inches long. Out back a Currie 9-inch housing (3.89:1) is controlled by another pair of 54-inch radius rods as well as a pair of Aldan 160-pound coilover shocks. Wilwood 11-inch drum brakes are located in the rear while 10-inch Wilwood discs are used up front. To make it a roller, spindle-mount 12-spoke Radir wheels (18x3) are wrapped with Yokohama 18x3.5 motorcycle tires and 15x5 Centerline Convo Pro wheels shod with Mickey Thompson Sportsman 33x21.5x15 hides take up the rear.

The body is one of CCR’s stretched units (8 inches over stock) that allows for more legroom. And instead of a “normal” shortened pickup bed found on most T-buckets, Jeff opted for CCR’s Sport Deck, which is a combination of a ’27 turtle deck and trunk section from a ’32. There’s a lot more space in the trunk, and it’s where Jeff mounted his 14-gallon gas tank and Optima battery.

CCR bodies come out of the mold clean and smooth, so Jeff says there wasn’t much prep needed before he painted the car with PPG black, then topping it with four coats of clear acrylic urethane. He also designed, laid out, and shot the flames using an ’00 Ford Mandarin Copper paint with red and blue tips.

CCR also offers a drop-in interior kit, which Jeff ordered in cinnamon Naugahyde. After cutting the holes for the Auto Meter gauges, Jeff used a Ron Francis wiring block but his own spools of wire to complete the car’s electrical needs. A Grant steering wheel bolts to an ididit column, and Jeff says his air conditioning comes naturally from cruising at 65 mph behind his slightly chopped windshield.

Fate comes knocking in strange ways sometimes and, while finishing up his 409 roadster, Kathy Hall inherited another T-bucket from a friend who had died. Now the Hall family has three Ts, with one of their two daughters, Jaime or Kelly, taking turns driving the first car, Jeff driving his 409 roadster, and Kathy piloting the third car (which received a new white ’n’ pink flame paintjob from Jeff). Jeff says people are so surprised when they find out they do this as a family, but it just proves the old statement: “A family who goes rodding together stays together.”

  • «
  • |
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • View Full Article