Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The ’57 Chevy man’s favorite and last 1957 is sold

1957 Chevy man. “Buck” Hitt, of Blount County Alabama, was known for his love of 1957 Chevys. Buck owned more than a dozen 1957 Chevrolets during his decades old love affair with the iconic symbol of American automobiles. Convertibles, hardtops and sedans could be found surrounding the home where Buck lived with his wife, Wanda, for more than 50 years. It was no accident that his street address and the last four digits of his home phone number were 1957. The car and the number became synonymous with Buck. 

Interior of Buck Hitt's 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is loaded with options.

Pride and joy
  Buck’s black, 2-door hardtop, Bel Air was a source of pride for him as a young man. That same car gave him peace during his most difficult days as he lost his vision and battled illness. Buck passed away last year, in March 2011. His wife, Wanda, struggled to let go of his cars, knowing she could not take care of them.

1957 Chevy Bel Air chrome window moulding shines.

Holding on to the past
  Soon after Buck passed away, dozens of his automotive treasures were sold. Neighbors and passersby offered to buy the dozens of classic cars and parts that Buck had collected. One lone 1957 Bel Air remained behind the house. Wanda couldn’t bear to let it go.

Rust-prone area between rear bumper and trunk is solid.

Many offers
  She said “No” each time a stranger pulled into the yard to make an offer. All had a price, except the black, 2-door hardtop, Bel Air that Wanda and Buck had driven many years ago. There’s no question that Wanda still loves Buck when I looked into the pained expression on her face.
  “I’m just not ready to let go of the car that Buck loved,” said Wanda.

Bubble seat covers preserved the interior of Buck's ’57 Chevy.

Original only once
  Buck’s black Bel Air has vintage plastic seat covers on the 
silver and black interior. The car has remained original and solid for 55 years. It retained the original 283-cu. inch engine, Powerglide transmission, power brakes, power steering and AM push button radio. Buck had stashed a boatload of 1957 parts in the trunk and back seat. Four 1957 Chevy parts cars remained in Wanda’s yard along with the black Bel Air. Buck's place was a gold mine for ’57 Chevy lovers and word was spreading.

Buck had four 1957 Chevy parts cars in his back yard.

One more offer
  I tried to buy Buck’s ’57 before it got away. Taking home a ready-to-restore project with a pedigree was tempting. My offer was turned down by Wanda. It wasn’t the first time she said “No” to an offer that month. 
  I promised to keep in touch and wished her well. Two months passed and I got the urge to call her. I didn’t. Another month passed and the ’57 was sold. An older man made her a much better offer than I did. Wanda couldn’t say, “No,” this time.

Buck's black 1957 Chevy could draw a crowd. 

  “I know the gentleman will get it back on the road,” said Wanda. Buck’s 1957 Chevy dream car has found a new dreamer. Plans for a full restoration are underway. 
  Wanda was told that the man has the ’57 running again. “The man said he would bring it by when he gets it back together. I will see it pretty soon.”

– Jody Potter,

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  Send emails to

Hard-to-find, original ’57 Chevy trim pieces were plentiful. 

Have you seen a survivor 1957 Chevy lately?

Bumper guards among the options on the ’57 Chevy.

Rust-out, at the bottom of one door, can be overlooked on Buck's 1957.

Wanda kept a close watch on the Chevy behind the house.

Buck started building a garage for his ’57 when he lost his eyesight.

Rear seat of Buck's ’57 Chevy.

Buck's car gets a new lease on life. I know he would be proud.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

That Fad "T": T Buckets were the original hot rod rage, where are they now?

Buckets of love from days gone by. I love cars. I really do. The Junkyard Life Guys will go to great lengths just to see a car in any condition. If you’re a frequenter of Junkyard Life, then you know just how extreme we can be. Or so we thought. The car guys from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s make us look like the Harper Valley Chess Team. 

  More specifically, the T-Bucket guys. Those guys had nerve. Those guys knew what fast was and they made it happen. If you think your 280 Z with a small block Chevy is an original idea, think again. If you think your Miata with that insane power-to-weight ratio 5.0 Ford is fast (good heavens, I know it is!) or that RX-7 with the transplanted LS motor is a new thing, wrong-o, Fast-and-Furious boy. The T-Buckets led the way in the 1950s for unbelievable, ridiculous power. By the early seventies they were the rage.

Kookie Kar, a customized 1922 Ford Model T, built by Norm Grabowski became THE iconic hot rod in the 1950s. 

Junkyard jalopy
  A model T Ford is the basic concept for the T-Bucket. You were riding around in a bucket that used to be a T-model Ford. By the fifties, there was an abundance of early to late 1920’s cars laying around in barns, alleys, back yards and junkyards — seemingly everywhere. Car guys, being the pioneer recyclers, put these automotive remains to good use. They swapped, modern for-the-day, engines into a chassis designed to hold a fraction of the torque and horsepower that they were now harnessing. The good, old recipe for a fast car — lots of power, no weight. As time went on and V-8 engines were abundant and affordable, they only got faster.

Actor/drag racer Tommy Ivo's Buick-powered T Bucket.

Scary fun
  T-buckets were street monsters. Take a V-8 and add multiple carbs and unrestricted headers. For traction, add a super strong Mercury, Corvette or Jaguar rear end and massive fatty tires on the back. Up front, to save weight, how about tiny wagon wheel pizza cutters on the front? A back seat would only add bulk, so forget that. No fenders, no hood and usually no roof would be uncomfortable in the winter, but are we men or mice? 
  Absent were things we take for granted, like seat belts. Maybe today you might see a bucket with belts, but back then it was a rarity. The steering column was more or less a giant spear waiting to impale you. Power brakes, right? Oh. Brakes, yeah-that’s not working out so well due to drum brake technology at the time and the disproportionate skinny bicycle-like tires in front. So some of them had… no front brakes. Are these guys daring? Crazy? Suicidal? Yes, yes and yes. T-Buckets were also fun and addictive.

Tommy Ivo's T' Bucket Hot Rod sports a custom Von Dutch pinstripe.

Buckets of speed
  How fast are we talking? The one I rode in was basic bolt-ons and nothing exotic. It didn’t have to be, it was so light! Today it would be compared to putting a small block Chevy in your lawn mower or your kid’s go cart. Can you imagine a street race crowd of T-Buckets about to line up. That would be great to watch, like maybe from a distance. If you lived through it, you just might get street respect, also I have heard that back then it was not uncommon for a girl to arrive with someone and leave with the guy in the faster car.

Calling all T-Buckets
  So where are you now, T-Buckets of yesteryear? We here at Junkyard Life know of a couple here and there, but the masses have seemingly disappeared. Do you know of one that makes appearances around your town? If you know of one sitting dormant in a basement or barn, let us know. We would love to do a story on one and the times it has seen. T-Bucket guys, you’re crazy, but we love you! Lets hear from you soon.

— Ron Kidd,

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  Send emails to Ron at or Jody at