Michael Mahan’s 1923 Ford harkens back to the earliest days of hot-rodding—the T-bucket. Featuring a two-seat Model T roadster body with a small turtle deck or pick-up box attached, these “bucket”-shaped shells give the cars their enduring name.
Vertical windshields are typically fitted, and you can usually bet there will be an enormous engine and some large-by-huge tires to get the power to the road.
The “T For II” was created as a no-expense-spared show car about 25 years ago. It has features like incredible full body mural paint and graphics, a hand-formed Carson-style electric top, and hand-etched details on the valve covers, brakes, rear-end, firewall, and other billet aluminum pieces.
All told, the car cost more than $100,000 to build.
The car did very well on the show circuit, establishing itself as a four-time NSCA Champion, World of Wheels winner, magazine cover car, and Best of Show victor in many local events.
But even with all of the accolades, the car hid a terrible secret—it did not run. When its life as a show car ended, T For II ended up in a Maryland collector’s stable. At some point, a half-baked attempt at getting the car running was tried but a lack of finances put the project on hold.
In 2008, the partially disassembled roller was sold to another collector in Arizona. The new owner took a whack at getting the car running too, spending $40,000 on the effort but still never bringing it to life. A few more years passed, and the forlorn former show winner was eventually traded again.
Saved by Texas hot-rodder Michael Mahan in 2018, he was stunned that a car built to this level of showmanship never managed to push a tire under its own power.
In early 2019, Michael got to work.
Great care was taken to preserve the original high-quality show parts while all-new guts were put in place. In just five short months, Michael was able to do what three previous owners over 25 years could not—bring
T For II to life.
FAST SPECS: Michael Mahan’s 1923 Ford T-Bucket
- Blown 386 c.i.d. small block Chevy making over 500 horsepower with nitrous
- Eagle Specialty rotating assembly
- Isky Racing Cams camshaft
- Chevy cast iron “194” cylinder heads with stainless steel valves
- Polished BDS 6-71 supercharger; overdriven producing 10 lbs. of boost
- Dual Demon 625 cfm carburetors
- Magneto-style tuned electronic distributor
- Sanderson Classic Roadster headers, internally baffled
- GM TH400 transmission with B&M shifter
- 2,400-2,800 RPM stall torque converter
- Custom built frame with 4-coil spring design
- Boxed frame rails with internal fuel, transmission, and fuel lines
- Custom paint and graphics to match body
Steering and Suspension
- Direct-style vertical steering shaft with manual box and mechanical linkage
- Solid axle front suspension with coilover springs and shocks
- 4-link with coilover springs and shocks
- 4-wheel power disc brakes with separate reservoir and booster
- GM 8.5″ with Eaton TrueTrac differential, 3:73 gears
Wheels and Tires
- Boyd directional wheels wrapped in Hoosier tires
- Fiberglass Ford T-Bucket style with shortened pickup box
- Yellow base color with maroon, purple, and blue graphics that continue around and under the car; “T For II” mural on underside
- Electric Carson-style top formed in aluminum and covered in fabric; raise and tilt functions
- Hand-etched details in all billet aluminum components
- Paint by Bells Trim & Design, Inc.
- Hand-etched parts by KoKoMo Art
- Custom-made seat finished in gray tweed with purple leather accents
- Polished dash with custom digital gauges and AutoMeter sending units
- Interior work by Bells Trim & Design, Inc.
- 4-time NSCA Champion
- World of Wheels winner
- Magazine cover car
- Numerous Best of Show wins in local events
- Rockwall Cars for Casa Show winner
Special Thanks to
- Harry Hronas at Performance Racing Engines
- Sparkey at LoneStar Transmissions
What a rad paint job! Nice story.
The owner of this 1923 T bucket has misinformed all you readers. I am the original owner and builder of this car. Let’s get one thing straight. There was no hidden secret,, the car did run and passed many spot checks at the car shows and the world of wheels finale shows. Michal and Tom have so many items in there story that are untrue about this car. I you want the truth, you can contact me.
Lots of money but not much taste. It’s really the opposite of the original hot-rodding ethos which was innovation, function and performance. not throwing a bunch of expensive parts together all covered in chrome and bright paintwork.