The T-Bucket craze started in Southern California in the mid-1950s where aspiring Hollywood actor Norm Grabowski’s Lightning Bug hit the scene like an atom bomb. Painted a neutral black color, the first version of Norm’s t-bucket caught the attention of Hot Rod Magazine, and it landed the cover of the October 1955 issue. One of the guys that were flabbergasted by Norm’s groundbreaking creation was Tommy “TV” Ivo, another young Hollywood actor. Ivo was also a racer and builder, and he asked Norm if he would let him take some measurements off his car. Norm told him to fuck off, so Ivo took action on his own, and snuck into Grabowski’s garage so he could take all the critical measurements necessary to build his own version. Once completed, Ivo’s take on Grabowski’s trendsetting t-bucket, became almost as popular as the original, and it gained national recognition when it was featured on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine August 1957.
The Lightning Bug iteration of Norm’s T-Bucket appeared briefly in The Ford Television Theatre. Around 1957, Norm repainted it blue metallic with hot flames licking down the cowl sides. This version of the bucket appeared regularly on the TV series “77 Sunset Strip” as The Kookie Kar. Grabowski’s hot rod was now showcased for teenagers all over the US, and it started a national T-bucket craze that spread across the continent as a wildfire.
T-Bucket Hot Rods
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