If this month's cover made you think you were looking at a STREET RODDER from our early days, that's understandable. Daniel Sieber's '24 Ford T-bucket was inspired by the street rods and show rods of the '60s and early '70s, and by the styles of builders like Ed Roth and Don Tognotti.
Daniel has always been into cars. He used to drive a restored '57 Cadillac. His friends drove hot rods. "They were always faster than me. I loved my Cadillac, but I was tired of low and slow. I wanted loud and fast." He was ready to catch up with his hot rod friends. In fact, he was ready to outdo them. Time to sell the Cadillac and build a hot rod of his own.
After posting the Cadillac on Craigslist, Daniel got a response from someone willing to trade a '24 Model T. The roadster was in pieces, but all the pieces were there. He knew his wife, Lindsay, wouldn't want another project around, but Daniel (with help from his in-laws) assured her that the T would take only "minor work" to finish. "As soon as she said OK, my Caddy was on a trailer and the deal was done."
When the roadster showed up it already had a rolling frame with custom 'rails kicked up 8 inches in the rear. Daniel got busy with bodywork. When the sheetmetal was straight and smooth, the bucket was channeled over those kicked-up framerails to lower the T almost to the pavement. He wanted loud and got his wish when Robert Walls at Danny's Auto Body in Ontario, California, sprayed the body House of Kolor Lime Time Green. A T-bucket doesn't offer a lot of body to spray, so there was plenty of paint left over for the engine block and cylinder heads as well as the framerails. The firewall and the gas tank—a stretched Model T tank with a 13-gallon capacity—were painted with contrasting bright white. Wolfe's Pinstriping in San Bernardino County added some clean, low-key 'striping to the front spring perch, the E&J headlight housings, and the cut-down steel '32 Ford grille shell.
Subtlety has no part in the show rod style of Daniel's T. The
chromed Winters quick-change
And traditional doesn't always mean skinny tires; on Ts
like this, fat is where it's at.
There's an abundance of brightness all over this beautiful
bucket. Daniel didn't spare the
The frame is suspended in the front by a suicide frontend hanging way out past the 'rails. Buggy springs, friction shocks, and a dropped and drilled I-beam axle are all part of the late-'60s look that Daniel wanted for the car, especially once they were covered with car show–shiny chrome. Wilwood discs, a four-link, and a Vega steering box nudge the roadster into the street rod revival period of the '70s and are right in place on the T. The custom Zipper rearend with a Winters quick-change and Jaguar-style inboard disc brakes extend the '70s influence to the back of the car. And did we mention the chrome?
The exaggerated big 'n' little style of the rolling stock was essential to the look of the roadster. Daniel's interpretation features a pair of Firestone pie-crust cheater slicks (the maximum width/minimum tread meats known to '60s rodders as "street tires") and front 165R15 Coker Classics, mounted on 15-inch Astro Supreme five-spokes. They're chromed too.
The blown motor was a throwback to Daniel's youthful urge to outdo his friends. It's built with the looks of a show motor and the muscle of a race motor. The supercharger is from The Blower Shop in Simi Valley, California, and drives air from dual 750-cfm Procomp carburetors to a Chevy small-block. The 0.030-over 350 was machined at Rapp Racing Engines in Huntington Beach and was assembled by Mike Rapp. Smiley's Custom Headers in Rancho Cucamonga builds race car exhaust systems and George Flores and Smiley provided these pipes for the T. The swedged bell tips were flattened by Daniel. Are they loud? Yes, they are. The engine has never been dyno'd, but makes enough horsepower to move a T-bucket along just fine. The 700-R4 transmission, built at Novotny Automatic Transmission, provides overdrive for improved streetability.
Daniel took the roadster to So-Cal Interiors where a custom wrap-around seat was constructed and the bench and side panels were upholstered with white vinyl. In the '60s, vertically pleated upholstery was being replaced by other styles, such as the diamond pleating that's revived in Daniel's T. Green and black tuxedo loop carpet covers the floor. The steering wheel is a Grant Classic Cruisin four-spoke on a LimeWorks Speed Shop column. Daniel found the instrument panel online. It's from a '29 Essex and the Stewart-Warner speedometer in the center hexagon was original equipment. Daniel added the Mooneyes fuel, oil, temperature, and volts gauges.
The "minor work" required to finish the car took eight months. Daniel was helped by his friend Josh Smilor, brother-in-law Zach Goins, and father-in-law Richard Goins. His deadline for finishing the T was Father's Day 2012 so he could drive it to the L.A. Roadsters Show that weekend. "It came down to the last week," he told us, "but I got to drive right into the show and celebrate my first year of being a father." Since then, he has driven it to other local shows and swap meets (waking his neighbors in the pre-dawn hours with the sound of open headers).
With his daughter, Kaylee (who loves to sit in the roadster and pretend she's driving it), and a new hot rod in the family, we're confident that this hobby's future is secure for at least one more generation.
Just the Facts
Owner: Daniel Sieber