1917 Ford T-Bucket

Photos and Article by Joe Van Zyl – Built by Western Street Rods

Growing up with a dad like Keith Potgieter from Western Street Rods must have some serious perks. There are Rodders that would give their left arm just to shadow the man, to see him work his magic. By the looks of it, Andrew Potgieter did way more than just shadow his dad….

I got the opportunity to drive the most insane 1917 Model T. I wonder if this is what Henry Ford had in mind when he created his first car. Andrew isn’t in the trade like his dad however, that doesn’t mean this guy lacks the skill necessary to build a great car. When Andrew was 16 years old, he built a Chevy 350 V8 into a Ford Escort panel-van. He also made a fiberglass mould of the front end of the Escort all by himself. When Andrew decided it was time to build his own T-Bucket, Keith knew he was up for the job. 

The T-Bucket was one of Keith’s stretched fiberglass bodies. The stretching of the body allows you to sit inside the car instead of on top. Also, the longer chassis gives you a more stable comfortable ride. The front-end is also one of Keith’s tubular solid I-beam ones with BMW brake discs and calipers. The rear suspension is a narrowed Jag XJ6. The T has a huge point roll-bar with space for a third bar for when Andrew feels like taking it down the track, which he plans on doing in the near future. 

When you look at the T, all you see is motor and man what a motor it is. It is a 454 Chevy V8 that has been taken to 460 cubic inches. It has a roller camshaft, forged pistons, Edelbrock Victor Jr. cylinder heads, Edelbrock double intake with two 600 Edelbrock carbs all running through a T400 gearbox. When people look at the motor, the first thing they will notice is the huge 10mm spark plug wires and the fuel regulator that ensures the beast gets a constant supply of fuel at all times. This pile of groceries all come together with a whopping 550 BHP or so it says on paper. It cannot fit on a dyno mainly because the 29 inch diameter rear tyres won’t fit. 

The 120mm diameter side pipes and exhaust system were created by TNT exhaust. The steering box comes from a Nissan 1400 bakkie and the steering column from a Toyota. Andrew added his own touches to the T, the front indicators were made from casting offcuts. The centre console in the car was a cut off from some tubing that he found. He welded the sections for the gauges and put the Hurst shifter in using this. The speedo and rev counter brackets were made from 90 degree bend plastic pipes that were also welded together. Andrew also converted it to a push-button start. I have never really understood the appeal of a T-Bucket. To me it was always a bathtub with a big motor strapped to it but after taking a drive in this car, I have changed my mind. It is the ultimate point and shoot rocket with a fun factor of 15 out of 10. Talking to Keith about the T he says, with a big smile on his face “This may not be the best-looking T in the country but hell, it is the most fun!” and I have to agree all the way.