Reader’s Rides: Timeless T-Bucket Sets Tone For A Lifetime

There is a concept that humans are both the product and producer of their environment, and while I’m not one to be a philosopher, I can attest that this idea could not fit better than in the automotive community. It never fails that children often lead a life surrounded by cars due to their parents sharing the same hobby. It’s not to say that some people join the fold on their own, but more often than not, we see parental influence curating their kids’ future builds. For Tom Carlisle, that same charge led him down the path to build some righteous rides, including this T-Bucket.


Performance Powerhouse

Growing up, Tom’s father worked at the local Ford dealership, and as a used car manager, his job allowed him to bring home a variety of vehicles. During Tom’s formative years, he was riding shotgun in the likes of Shelby Mustangs, Boss 302 and 429, and even the Bow-Tie variety entered the Carlisle property with a few 427 Tri-Power Corvettes making their way into the driveway. “Needless to say, I was hooked on performance vehicles for a lifetime,” Tom says.

The cost of high-performance vehicles proved prohibitive during his college years, as advancing his education took center stage and consumed most of his funds. Once graduated, Tom found joy in two-wheeled vehicles, and he embarked on building countless motorcycles, each one modified to his liking. However, the satisfaction of building bikes diminished as each subsequent model incorporated the revisions he had made to his current bike, leaving Tom perpetually dissatisfied. Eventually, he made the decision to reignite his love for automobiles by undertaking a build meant to last a lifetime.

Timeless, Not Trendy

Like many enthusiasts, Tom found himself taking on more than he could handle. He acquired a chassis for his T-Bucket build before ever attempting to construct a vehicle from scratch. To compensate for his lack of experience, Tom opted for a Total Performance T kit, which provided him with the framework he needed without requiring extensive fabrication or modifications. Little did he know, this kit would serve as a valuable learning tool, offering insights into how he envisioned his original build evolving in the future.


“I have always been a fan of multiple carburetion, blowers, and Halibrand wheels. These features have appealed to me since then, and they still do thirty-four years later,” Tom says. “My intention was to build a car that wouldn’t become dated by avoiding the latest trends, such as the pastel exterior colors of the 90s. I didn’t want to be dissatisfied with the final product.”

The Final Product

With the goal of creating a vehicle to last a lifetime, Tom chose a 351 Cleveland Cobra Jet engine with four-bolt mains to take center stage. Atop the V8 sits a draw-through GMC 6-71 blower, originally designed for and used on GMC school buses. The open engine compartment facilitated the use of 2-inch primary tube stainless steel headers leading into a four-inch stainless tailpipe with internal 36-inch mufflers, effectively releasing exhaust gasses while also providing the T-Bucket with a deep rumble.


The engine transmits power through a polished C-6 transmission, ensuring smooth operation. The power then flows to a chromed 9-inch housing rearend with a nodular third member. Internally, a traction-lok with 4.57 gears resides. Bringing the Bucket to a halt are four-wheel disc brakes equipped with a Midland power booster, delivering reliable stopping power. Aside from the exposed supercharged engine, the pièce de résistance of the build are the Halibrand wheels, perfectly capturing the exact image Tom had envisioned.

Chef’s Kiss

Tom’s car is more than just a polished and well built ride, it’s the cumulation of his childhood rides with his father, it’s a passion he built with friends in the garage, but most of all it’s what would make a younger Tom proud of his future self. The build is not a trendsetter, nor a follower, it’s the timeless look that resonates with T-bucket owners. It provides the looks and a lot of power to boast. We’re excited that Tom was kind enough to reach out to us with his build!

About the author

James Elkins

Born into a household of motorsport lovers, James learned that wrenching takes priority over broken skin and damaged nerves. Passions include fixing previous owners’ mistakes, writing, and driving.
Read My Articles