The Great 1950’s T-Bucket Hot Rod Rivalry | Kookie Kar vs. The “Outhouse on Wheels”

Norm Grabowski Tony Ivo T-Bucket

Tommyy Ivo (top) and Norm Grabowski in his famous Kookie Kar square-off at the National Hot Rod Associations drag racing meet held at the old Santa Ana Drag Strip.

.

The T-Bucket Hot Rod craze started back in the 1950s, and is still alive and screamin’ today.  Norm Grabowski is the undisputed Granddaddy of the 4-wheeled art form, with his original Kookie Kar being an inspiration to the legion of copycat and followers that became a national craze.  It all started back in 1952, when Grabowski, newly discharged from the service and now a fledgling actor in California, got his hands on an old 1922 Model T Touring front half and dropped a shortened model A pickup bed on the rear.  It wasn’t nearly as simple as it sounds– Grabowski painstakingly cut and recut the frame, laboring long and hard to get just the right aesthetic and stance he was looking for.  The power was supplied by a ’52 Cadillac engine with a 3-71 GMC blower, and later evolved to a ’56 Dodge engine with a Horne intake sporting a quartet of Stromberg double-barrel carbs. The steering for the beast was supplied by a Ross box from an old milk truck.  Grabowski installed it at home, then discovered that the T-Bucket steered backwards.  He hopped in the dyslexic Hot Rod and nonchalantly drove her from Sunland, CA to Valley Custom in Burbank for a fix– having to steer in the opposite direction the entire way.  Why not?

.

Norm Grabowski Kookie Kar

Norm Grabowski behind the “wheel” of his famous Kookie Kar– a signature feature being the Bell three-spoke steering wheel mounted on the column which was in near upright position.

*

Continue reading

KENNY HOWARD | THE MASTER PAINTER & STRIPER ALSO KNOWN AS VON DUTCH

A young Kenny Howard, self-named Von Dutch, perfects his pin-striping craft.

A young Kenny Howard (Von Dutch) perfecting his pinstriping craft at Bud Ekins' shop, 1965.

*

Before the cheesy namesake clothing and accessories line that threatens to destroy his cred forever, there was the self-invented and slightly mad genius Kenny Howard– better known as Von Dutch. He was a real Renaissance man– legendary custom painter, artist, motorcycle mechanic, and a skilled metal worker who hand-crafted his own knives and guns.  He had a strong aversion to money and felt it was detrimental to his art– which makes the clothing line even more of an ironic abomination.

“I make a point of staying right at the edge of poverty. I don’t have a pair of pants without a hole in them, and the only pair of boots I have are on my feet. I don’t mess around with unnecessary stuff, so I don’t need much money. I believe it’s meant to be that way. There’s a ‘struggle’ you have to go through, and if you make a lot of money it doesn’t make the ‘struggle’ go away. It just makes it more complicated. If you keep poor, the struggle is simple.“  –Von Dutch

*

Von Dutch (Kenny Howard)

*

Continue reading

DUBBLE TRUBBLE TRIUMPH DRAGSTER | BRITISH HYBRID HELL ON WHEELS

Triumph Dubble Trubble

The legendary Dubble Trubble Triumph motorcycle

The Dubble Trubble, built in 1953 by legendary racer Bud Hare, was a beastly Triumph twin-engined motorcycle that dominated the drag strips during the 1950s with a top speed of 142.38 mph.  The dual 40 cu. in. displacement engines were fed through a Harley-Davidson hand-shift gearbox with foot clutch. Only two gears are used– second and high. Totally sick.  Kids– don’t try this at home.

None other than Von Dutch himself painted the lettering on the legendary Triumph’s tank– which explains the 2 dots above the U’s which weren’t asked for.  But then again– Von Dutch was known to kind of do his own thing.

 

Triumph dubble trubble motorcycle

The legendary twin-engined Dubble Trubble Triumph motorcycle

Continue reading