Hot Rods and Rock n’ Roll are two of the 20th century’s biggest and best inventions. They seem to be welded together like two sides of the same coin! I guess, since both were pretty much invented by rebellious Americans kids as statements of self-expression, they kind of have to draw together magnetically! But not all good music and cool cars are American. The Brits have given us plenty of both. In particular, I have always been drawn to the music of the “Who”. Most people think of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey when the group is mentioned. Me, I think of the early days and the Who’s first drummer, Keith Moon. Now most people know he was a bit of a wild man. What most people don’t know was that he was a car guy too. Not just any car either! Keith Moon drove a Ford T-bucket roadster! This is the story of Keith and his cool, un-American hot rod.
So what is a T-bucket? Well, the T-bucket roadster is a hot rod built from a Ford Model T production car (or aftermarket replica parts of the model T). That’s right, these wonderful hot rods are modified, personalized and customized versions of Henry’s mass produced car; made famous for being an affordable, everyman’s auto that Mr. Ford made in any color you wanted as long as that color was black!
But like I touched on in the beginning, this article is about a specific guy and his specific car, so let me get on with the story as I was told it. In the early days of the Who, not all the music they recorded was original. Like most early bands, they covered other people’s material and gave it their unique touch. Well someone thought it would be a good idea for the Who to do a cover of a Jan and Dean song called “Bucket T”. This song has been covered by at least three groups that I know of. Frankly, the Who’s version comes in a dead last for listen-ability as far as I’m concerned. Which just goes to show you, not all creative ideas should see the light of day. As an added touch, to really secure the meager success of this version, Keith got to take a rare turn at singing lead! Ringo Starr eat your heart out!
I can only guess that Keith really took this shot in the lime-light a bit seriously. He ended up deciding that he needed the car to go with the song. In true wild man fashion, Moon found a finished car (built by legendary British hot rodder, Mickey Bray) and bought it to add to his already existing stable of vehicles. The only fly in the ointment was, Keith was no longer in possession of a valid driver’s license due to bad boy antics on his part! Basically, at the same time, Keith was also doing his own cover of Sammy Hagar singing, “I can’t drive 55!” So there you have it! That’s how Moon got his T-bucket.
So what about the car? Like I said, this was a built car. Bray, who was a heavy weight in the British hot rod scene and who was later also a founder of the U.K.’s National Street Rod Association, originally built this fiberglass bodied T-bucket with a small Daimler Hemi V8. I’ve seen “before” pictures of it painted red with white pin stripping and a white rag top. The car got a make-over at some point. Its motor was swapped for a 273 cubic inch Mopar mill and then she was given a psychedelic paint job. It was in this state of finish that the legendary drummer got a hold of it. Oh yeah… yes, it was right hand drive!
This story just goes to show that not all hot rods of historical significance were built on American soil by good old Yankee ingenuity. Truth be told, the T-bucket build craze developed almost simultaneously in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia / New Zealand. Rockers on all sides of the “pond” have been bitten by the bug to own one off radical rides to compliment their radical life styles.