Sunday, June 23, 2024
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REAL RODDER – PETER GREEN 1923 FORD T-BUCKET

When Peter Green’s father, the late Don Green said to him; “Son, you’ve never been a real hot rodder unless you’ve built and owned your own T bucket,” it hit a nerve. Muted for most of his automotive adolescence, Peter revived his dad’s words and set out to build a real hot rod. By chance, he created history. 

Peter’s metal motivated rap sheet includes most marques, four wheels, two wheels, horses and go-carts…. just as long as it hauled arse. At the age of just 10, he was super successful on the pint sized arena racing go-carts with his dad as his support team.

As he grew in size, so did his race cars. “When I was young we didn’t have a dollar to kick around but we developed a go-cart in the factory at home and won two Australian titles with it. Dad built his business, Don Green Engineering into a successful business that I now run today. He was always there and helped me buy my first car, an EJ Holden. The first thing we did when we got it home was unbolt the existing intake, and replaced it with twin Strombergs,” he recalls fondly. “His pride and joy was his baby Austin 7.” 

“I’ve been a member of the Regency Ramblers Rod and Custom Club for 15 years now but before that I was pretty much a lone wolf. Les Buckley was the one that convinced me to attend a Ramblers run and I had a ‘34 Chevy tourer. After I won Top Street Rod with it, I swapped it for a mobile home with room for a race car, one of the biggest regrets of my life,” he says with remorse. 

After a successful stint in Supercarts, Peter turned his hand to training and owning harness horses. “Flying Solo was my best effort and we won a lot of races before he broke down.”

When Peter redirected his focus back towards cars, the stables became home for a different type of horsepower.  “Both my sons have their own take on their automotive niche and my wife, Tuyet anh owns a 1928 Ford roadster. My daughter, who inherited her mum’s good looks and my temper, also has her own 1934 Chev Woody. We bought the Woody as is, but the roadster we changed to suit Tuyet’s style. She knows what she likes and can visualise it. I, on the other hand, have to draw it first!” he laughs.  

Just over three years ago, Peter revisited those words his father once said and embarked on becoming a real hot rodder. At the time, the Aussie dollar was a fair match against the American greenback and importing costs were favourable. With his eye on the availability of T bucket parts easily obtained in the USA aftermarket, Peter started to accumulate an entire catalogue of related components.  

“I found a lot of the major pieces, including the 1923 T body at Speedway Motors, in Lincoln and imported it all with the help of a friend,” he explains. “I had the chassis built here in Australia, but it needed a lot of redevelopment to achieve full rego.” 

From the outset, Peter wanted his bucket to roam the streets at will and not be confined to ‘approved use’ only. That’s where this T bucket differs from most as it’s understood to be the first bucket to be granted full NSW rego in 30 years. Yes, that’s a biggie! It was also the driving force behind the entire project for its ambitious owner builder. 

He may have been a lone wolf but he is no lone soldier, accomplishing his mission by enlisting the help of a small band of Regency Ramblers. “Club members Bruce Heywood, his son Troy and Craig Halling and myself all worked together to make this happen. We had our moments… sure, but we became better friends because of it.” 

With a project as controversial as this one, Peter wisely contacted Troy from Fink Engineering at the get go to expertly decipher all rules pertaining to the bucket’s construction. In addition, Peter also invited a representative from the NSW Roads and Maritime Services to oversee the complete build in a massive effort to gain full registration.  

“I wanted it to be on full rego and when they realised that it was a T bucket, they told me that one had not been fully road registered for 30 years. When asked why, I was told they don’t comply. I asked again why didn’t they comply, and they couldn’t answer me. I sought higher authority and requested their involvement to make it happen with their supervision.” Peter says to blame it on his engineering background that he was adamant that his T bucket to be the next one to wear NSW plates.

“It was a difficult and expensive ordeal but we got there. Fink (Engineering) was precise and we literally built this car three times. Chromed components, windscreen to blower ratio, tyre widths and wipers were just some of the hoops we jumped through. Once we got the boxes ticked, it went well.”

Originally Peter’s objective was to build a beautiful T bucket to drive. As the project progressed it took on a life of its own. “As soon as we bolted the chrome and polished components onto the candy coated chassis, we knew that it was going to be special. We all looked at each other and went wow. The workmanship combined with the high quality parts began to gel perfectly.”

While standing back ogling the rolling chassis in all its glory, one of Peter’s mates commented out loud that this could potentially be the best T bucket ever… what an elite T!  It was there and then that Peter hit the internet and was astonished when ‘Elite T’ plates popped up as ‘available now’. 

From there, the exterior finish was stepped up a notch to equal the fine undercarriage and James Gatt was tapped for paint supply. After about nine coats of Candy Apple Red were flowed over a silver base, Joe Webb stepped up to add the signature flames. Amongst the highly visual and ghosted flame artwork, further eyeball stimulation is answered with a heavy dose of gold flake.

“I tried to explain what I wanted to him (Joe) and let him have his head. He was originally only to shoot the body but Joe insisted that we do the guards as well because of how they were invisibly attached.”

It’s worth noting that the necessary cycle fenders were made to suit the tyre size and are not an afterthought. After the hot flame job had time to cool, Raymond Taylor sealed the deal by adding the many coats of clear over the HOK exterior. 

With the 1923 Ford Model T repro body resplendent in red, Peter upped the ante once again by conjuring up an appropriate interior representing nothing that had been seen before. “As an avid pilot, we decided a cockpit style interior would be our take on the traditional T bucket interior,” says Peter. 

With the blueprint on paper, the execution was handed over to Matt Gilkes at Inside Rides who completed the request with impeccable results. Although there isn’t a lot of real estate inside the tiny compartment, Matt hand crafted every square inch into an opulent office. Custom built seating is split by a full length centre console that houses illuminated soft touch switches that echo concealed LED lighting throughout the ensemble. Also easy on the eye is the luscious leather that covers the entire masterpiece, completed in a clever combination of solid and perforated silky hide. Hand whittled aluminium inserts connect the Flaming River column and colour coded billet steering wheel into the mix while machine faced Dolphin gauges mimic the Lokar shifter knob. Same make foot pedals continue the quality component count. Out back the modified fuel cell and battery cover is expertly upholstered to the high quality standard. 

With the end in sight, Peter turfed the existing small block Chevy and paid a visit to Tristan Triccas at Affordable Racing with a bare block in tow. “It was always going to be a blown motor,” Peter reveals, “I gave Tricky a bare block and asked him to build me a new engine as strong as a drag engine with all the good bits.”

The end result is a visual and audible feast, to say the least. The 4/71 blown bowtie makes around 525hp which is plenty enough horses for an 800 kilogram hot rod! Hooked to a Turbo 400 Stage 2 race-prepped transmission, the combination rotates the detailed Jag rear end with ease. At the time of our photoshoot, the decked out 350 Chevy sported a bellowing pair of zoomie headers that are replaced with conventional extractors for street use. 

Compounding the visual caricature is the bigs ‘n’ littles tyre choice. American Racing 15x10s at the business end, wrapped in Mickey Thomspon rubber, and 15×6 front runners are halted at will by a quartet of disc binders. Another dominating feature of the proportionally pleasing T is the old school windscreen that was also crafted in the workshop and filled with custom cut safety glass. 

“I was influenced by Bruce’s (Heywood) black T bucket and he was most helpful in constructing the screen. With my seat height and the ratio between the screen and blower top, I only had to alter the scoop for rego requirements. Together I think they just work,” he says with a smile. 

Beguiled by its evolving beauty as it neared completion, Peter contacted Owen Webb to share his enthusiasm about his creation, inviting him for a looksee. “He walked in the workshop and he was suitably impressed and made me promise not to show it off before the SummerNats,” he recalls vividly. “We finished it the day before the SummerNats and it became the first ever T bucket to be granted an unveiling. It was also the first T bucket to achieve Superstar status.”

Overwhelmed by the experience, Peter was further floored to receive the Roth Family Choice. “That was the pinnacle,” his eyes watery as he recalls the event. “I was humbled to receive the award for the first time outside of the USA. They said that this was a car that Ed would have built. They appreciated the effort and hours invested into it, and that means a lot!” 

Tinware and accolades aside, this tenacious T was built for the street and Peter remembers the first drive as a totally amazing experience. “It broke lose a couple of times with the front wheels off the ground proving that it’s not just a trailer queen,” he quips.

Unfortunately throughout the duration of the T bucket build, Peter’s father had fallen weak and has since passed. Befittingly, he was still with us when his son proudly attached the ELITE T licence plates to the front of his completed hot rod. 

“To have Dad see the finished car and say it was awesome will stay with me forever. In his eyes I could call myself a hot rodder. Without my wife’s understanding and family support it would never happen and I thank her for that. To all my club members and the people that help build this car I sincerely thank you. We didn’t just make another hot rod… we made history!

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