T buckets are a staple of the American hot rod and classic car scene. These sporty, fun vehicles have been around for decades and are virtually limitless when it comes to customization options. Thanks to modern kits, practically anyone with a decent amount of mechanical knowledge can build his or her own T bucket these days.
One of the hardest parts of designing your T bucket, though, is deciding what you want the interior to look like. From kit parts to custom upholstering, there are practically too many options to choose from. Keep reading to learn more about T buckets and get some great T bucket interior ideas that will help you come up with your own hot rod design.
What Is a T Bucket?
A T bucket is a hot rod variation on the classic Ford Model T. T buckets were among the earliest hot rods, thanks to the massive number of used Model Ts that flooded the markets at very affordable prices in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Young racers brought these early cars to dirt racing tracks in Southern California, helping to create the early hot rod movement and contributing to the earliest days of independent racing. The T bucket takes its name from the bucket-shaped seating area that characterized the Model T body style.
One of the aspects of the T bucket that makes it such a popular hot rod design is its simplicity. Model Ts were notoriously simple and had easily interchangeable parts, making them very easy to turn into customized hot rods. Over the decades, enthusiasts have leveraged this fact to create almost every conceivable variation on the automotive classic.
Some of the most common design elements for T buckets include open-air engines, chrome exhaust pipes, flame paint jobs and canopies over the seating area. However, the design is almost infinitely variable. As you'll see a little later on, owners have gotten very creative with T buckets over the years and crafted some incredible hot rods that are truly unique.
Like other hot rods, T buckets have evolved over the years. In the 1950s and 60s, hot rodders largely stuck to the classic look of the Model T. Modifications were functional, rather than aesthetic. These included engine improvements and the removal of unnecessary body panels to reduce the weight of the vehicle. In the 1970s, the so-called "Fad T" became more popular. This style of T bucket was more visually daring, often including ultra-wide back wheels, lantern headlights and aggressively angled tops. By the 1990s, car kits made it possible for practically anyone to build a T bucket. Today, T buckets are still popular, though most have reverted to the somewhat more classic look.
Types of Bucket Seats
When it comes to different T bucket interior ideas, the seats are by far the most important and impactful design decision. The simplicity of the Model T's interior makes the seats the most visually prominent element. There are several different types of bucket seats that can be used in a T bucket. Below, you'll find descriptions of the four most common variations on this seating style.
Individual Bucket Seats
The individual bucket seat is the classic, single style of seat that can be seen widely used in hot rods. This type of seat essentially wraps around the driver, giving him or her much more room and more comfort for steering. In especially deep individual buckets, the headrest may even be built into the bucket itself.
This kind of seat can be used in virtually any kind of classic car, including T buckets. Individual bucket seats are usually the best for racing, since they offer greater control and a bit more support.
45/45 Bucket Seats
The 45/45 style is the most passenger-friendly version of wraparound bucket seating. 45/45 buckets leave an equal amount of room for the passenger and driver. As a result, they're usually the most popular for non-racing hot rods. A 45/45 bucket seat makes the most sense when comfort is the priority, rather than performance. It's also best to install this kind of seating in a T-bucket that doesn't have a console or a prominent transmission hump.
60/40 Bucket Seats
A 60/40 bucket seat is a type of seating that offers the driver more room than the passenger. This allows the driver to have more room for steering, but it makes the ride cramped for the passenger. This style isn't especially popular, especially since it makes the interior look asymmetrical and off-center.
40/60 Bucket Seats
The least popular version of bucket seating is the so-called 40/60 variation. In this variety, the driver has less room than the passenger. While this style deserves a mention here, it's very rarely used.
In addition to these seating styles, you'll also sometimes see T buckets with flat bench seating. This variation isn't particularly common, but it can lend an interesting look to the interior of the T bucket and make it stand out a bit more. Bench seats are very simple to install, making them a good option if you're not completely comfortable with more complicated interior work.
T Bucket Interior Made Easy
These days, you can build a T bucket interior easily using pre-made interior kits. These kits include seats, carpets and door panels, allowing you to easily put together the interior of your hot rodded T bucket.
The beauty of working with a kit is that you don't have to have any advanced knowledge of upholstering or design to make your car look good. Installing kit parts is fairly straightforward and won't take you much time. If you don't want to spend time and money creating something custom, a kit is usually the way to go.
With that said, kits do somewhat limit the creativity of creating a hot rod. The interior is one of the best opportunities to customize your vehicle. While an interior kit will certainly make the process easier, it won't let you create something quite as unique.
Custom T Bucket Interiors
If you don't like the idea of working with a kit, you can consider building a custom interior for your T bucket. To do this, you'll either need to learn upholstery work or have a shop that specializes in interiors help you bring your idea to life. For examples of custom T bucket and other hot rod interiors to give you inspiration, check out this Pinterest board.
T Bucket Interior Pictures
As simple as they are, T bucket interiors can add a great deal to the overall look of the car. When done correctly, the car's interior will work well with the exterior to create a striking and fun visual effect. Below, you'll find some pictures of great T bucket interior ideas to get you started on designing your own.
This interior uses a tufted leather or upholstery pattern to give the car a classic look. Drawing on inspiration from traditional Chesterfield-style furniture, the tufting creates a refined and sophisticated counterpoint to the otherwise aggressive look of the hot rod.
This design is most interesting because of the wooden accents against the white on the trunk. This shows how even small differences in color and pattern can create very visually striking effects when it comes to hot rod design.
While T bucket interior design ideas can sometimes be very intricate, you don't have to make them complex. On this T bucket, the owner has simply used two seats for the interior and removed all of the exterior body panels surrounding them. There's not much to this one, but the effect is very unique and gives the car a truly period feel.
This T bucket design illustrates how patterned fabrics can be used in the interior design. By matching the white, black and gray pattern to the car's black exterior, this design creates some nice contrast and draws the eye toward the interior.
Another great example of contrast at work is this extremely simple black interior paired with a bright yellow paint job. There's nothing fancy about this, but the contrast between the two really makes the car pop. Also note the chain steering wheel, which gives it a great and slightly aggressive edge.
Last but not least is this timeless black upholstery design. This one is simple and classic, with no frills and nothing fancy. The red, black and chrome complement each other nicely, giving the car a sleek styling that catches the eye almost immediately.
As you can see, there's no limit to the possibilities of T bucket interior ideas enthusiasts have come up with over the years. From very flashy to ultra-simple, you can make your T bucket look practically any way you want. This is part of the beauty of working with a very simple platform like the Model T design.