Chris Ward, from Sierra Vista, Arizona, has been working on his T roadster for the past few years, and he is a confirmed Buckethead (what you call someone who is really into the T-bucket form of hot rodding). His latest ride is a little different than what you would think when someone says “T-bucket,” so he outlined how the project came about.
The snake skin, complemented...
The snake skin, complemented by two-tone blue tweed with silver trim, was stitched up by Dadd’s Refinishing & Upholstery in Sierra Vista. Chris did his own wiring, which included the Dolphin gauges.
“Now known as ‘The Viper T,’ this car is the third T-bucket build since we started assembling them back in the late ’90s. The Viper T concept was derived when we attended a fall event in 1999 at the Big M Drive-in in Churchville, Maryland, with our new 440-powered T-bucket.
“While at the event, we walked through the swap meet area, looking for another project to start. There we found a Viper engine for sale for $3,800 in the back of a pickup truck and, our first thought was, “Wow, that would be really cool in a T-bucket.” But by the time we decided that we could do it, the truck and engine were gone.
“Our family’s first T-bucket was started 1997 and completed in April 1999. Most of the components, such as body and frame parts, came from Total Performance. Looking to be different, we installed a blown 440 big-block Chrysler engine.
Mike Mitchell painted the...
Mike Mitchell painted the car its Chrysler Electric Blue, and Cole Kynaston followed with the pinstripe. The wheels are Street Lites from Billet Specialties (15x4 and 15x15) wrapped in Mickey Thompson 24x5 rubber up front and 31x18.50 skins in the rear.
“While serving active duty in the Army at the time, we had to move to Arizona for my next assignment in June 2000. Our second ’bucket (of course I had to build one for my wife, Shari, to call her own so I could drive mine!) has a 360 small-block Chrysler and was finished in 2003.
“By 2006 we decided to start building another T-bucket, so we placed our name on the waiting list at K&S for an extended T-bucket body, which was delivered in April 2007. By May a Viper engine and transmission (with only 8,500 miles on it) plus an ECM and wiring harness was found in Illinois, so we purchased the package and had it shipped to us in Arizona.
“In June 2007 our son, Christopher Jr., came home from college in Wyoming for the 2007 T-Bucket Nationals that our club chapter hosted in Sierra Vista, Arizona. He, along with our daughter’s then-boyfriend (now husband), Graham Eberly, began fabricating the frame. It took over four years to build and was completed in February 2012. By the time you see this in the magazine, we will have introduced the Viper T to our extended T-bucket family at the 2012 NTBA (National T-Bucket Alliance) Nationals in Chattanooga, Tennessee.”
Chris says his T, which is set up on a wheelbase of 118 inches, weighs in at 2,157 pounds with 10 gallons of fuel in it, and it balances out at 1,170 pounds (54.2 percent) over the rear and 987 pounds (45.8 percent) over the front axle.
Although he has owned several fast cars in his life, Chris says the Viper-powered T scares him, and that’s really sayin’ something!
The heart and soul of this...
The heart and soul of this T is the ’95 Dodge Viper engine, which displaces 488 cubes and develops 400 hp at 4,600 rpm and 465 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. The powerplant, which has a seemingly endless powerband, is backed to a Viper six-speed transmission.
Up on the polished, shorty,...
Up on the polished, shorty, billet aluminum steering column from ididit is a half-wrap steering wheel (with a custom Viper design) that was custom-made by M&M Machine.