Stephen Figgis: 1970S T-BUCKET

THIS STUNNING MACHINE WAS ORIGINALLY BUILT BY ONE OF THE PIONEERS IN THE LOCAL HOT ROD SCENE..

WORDS GUY ALLEN

If you’re a hot rod fan and this car looks familiar, well done, as it has an ultra-long local history. “It’s a very old T-bucket, built in the seventies, not sure what year,” says owner Stephen Figgis. “Built in a back yard out in the open by a man by the name of Kim Featherston, who was the head honcho at Australian Street Rod Federation.

“It’s a very well-known car in the hot rod scene. I wanted to pay tribute to it by not altering it too much and by keeping the colour.

“A mate of mine bought it from Kim and it sat in garages for about 10 years. He started the full rebuild but went through a bit of a tough time and couldn’t finish the project. We grew up together and I wanted a hot rod my whole life, so he sold it to me. I picked it up as a bare chassis with a whole lot of boxes of parts. It was a full rebuild.”

The car has a Bob Bowman body which Stephen says you could buy for $87 from Street Rod Accessories back in the seventies. That’s been treated to three-stage pearl paint, plus silver striping from Smiths Customs.

“He’d done the coil-over suspension set up on the rear and the shock mounts at front. It used to have mechanical arms plus an A-model rear leaf spring. Kim’s wife told me it didn’t ride all that well. And now the change-over means it handles properly. I bought it in 2015 and quickly set to work.

“It drives and rides like a modern car. I kept the same stance on it – high in the back and low on the front. We repainted the chassis, rebuilt the motor, gearbox and diff, tailshaft. The brakes and calipers were redone, but we kept the original specification – PBR with solid discs on the front and drums on the rear.

“I had a new radiator made and we had to make up suspension bushes because you can’t buy them.

Stephen has made one concession to practicality, by changing the finish on the front suspension and steering. “The whole front end used to be chrome, but I’ve powder coated the components because I wanted to drive it and enjoy and the functionality had to be there.”

The drivetrain includes a rebuilt 351 Cleveland, C4 transmission and a diff now fitted with a Truetrac centre. He reckons the latter made a huge difference to its behaviour on the road. “That keeps it very straight – it doesn’t want to dart off when you get on the gas.”

So how long did it take to build? “It took me six months because I got stuck into it,” he says. “I’ve had cars my whole life and have done up every one – usually one every year or two.