4500KM Road Trip in a Ford T-Bucket For Red CentreNATS

Sammy Cooper has been a life-long hot rodder and car nut, and he's prepping his faithful T-bucket for its second 4500-kilometre round trip out to Alice for Red CentreNATS 09.

Anybody that's hung out around the Street Machining or Hot-rodding world down under would have definitely seen one or two of Sammy’s creations hanging around the joint, owning a stack of cool old streeters over the years. From chopped up Ford Falcons, to wild vans and plenty of hot-rods in between, Sammy’s history toying with cars stretches over 40 years, but his heart well and truly lies with the T-bucket, and he’s gearing up for another massive road trip to the Red Centre.

We spoke with Sammy ahead of his journey out to Alice to chat all things cruising, cars and Red CentreNATS.

J: So how many times have you done the drive out to Red CentreNATS?

S: This will be my third time, the second in the bucket. I drove up last year, but I didn’t have the roof on it! This time it’ll be a little more comfy.

My first trip out was in my custom Commer Van in 2018. It was a pretty cool car that I’d chopped 12-inches and done a few things to. On that trip I actually got hit by a tractor on the road near Adelaide and smashed it all up! It bent the roof and floor and some other stuff, but I still drove it there and back.

I’ve actually had the van fixed since, but then I realised I’d have to choose between it and the bucket — so I decided to stick with the T-bucket and I sold it on.

Do you do the drive with anyone?

The first year I went up with a mate who drove a chopped and channelled ‘34 coupe with a 454 Chev in it, and then last year I went with another mate who has one of Australia’s top T-buckets. He had his bucket on the back of a trailer, but it was still great to do the drive with him even if I had way more fun.

This time I’m catching up with three other cars that are going, a Chevy C10, a ‘64 Chev and the other is a ‘57 Chev. So we’ll cruise together over to Mannum in South Australia and stay at a mates place and have a bit of a get together before we press on up to Alice.

How does the bucket go on the freeway?

I can get a maximum of 150 kilometres on a tank of fuel, so I have to stop a few times but that's ok. It’s got a 253 Holden engine and it’s got a good little cam in it and a few other goodies. You definitely don’t need any stereo in it! The pipes come right out the side and are virtually right next to you. Once you get out on the freeway it just cruises at about 2500 revs and it's smooth as.

Our roads down here in Melbourne are crap, but once you get out past Port Augusta it's just awesome. I just love the trip, you’re out there in the middle of nowhere and you just go for it.

What's the go with the little trailer you take?

It was actually a little dog trailer would you believe. The first year I did the Red Centre trip I slept in the back of it, and I’ve done that a few other times but this year it's hauling all my spare parts. We’re staying at proper accommodation this time so I won’t need to sleep in it.

It’s a pretty cool little thing, a mate of mine got after me when I first got it and said I needed to do it up. I painted it red to match my bucket and put the two little boat scoops on it to make it a bit of a hot-rod trailer! It gets plenty of looks.

So you’ve done a few other long-haul trips in the bucket?

Oh yeah, my last one was up to the Hawkesbury for an event there but I’ve done road-trips in buckets for yonks. Next Easter I’m actually going to Perth for the ASR Hot Rod Nationals and that’ll be six days on the road just to get there! 

My original bucket I built in 1985 I strung together and ran the motor in by driving it up to Canberra for the Hot Rod Nationals there and I actually came away with the Australian Top T-Bucket. When I got home from that event I whacked a 6/71 Supercharger on it and drove it all over the country. Between all the events and the rod runs, we’ve done 200,000 miles in a T-bucket.

What are some of the other cars you’ve owned in your time?

I’ve had a stack of cool cars. One you guys might recognise is my XW station wagon that I used to take to the Summernats. It was chopped 8 and a half inches and had the supercharger off my original bucket put on it. It was flat black and called ‘FLATTEN’.

I reckon that would have been around Summernats 8 or 9, and then I actually sold it to a movie studio in 2000! The car now actually is owned by a mate who has it in Ballarat now, and when he gets a chance he is going to fully restore it. I used to even drive it on the road from time to time.

Some pretty cool stuff in here, thanks for your time and all the best for the trip!

Thanks for the chat, I look forward to seeing you guys out in Alice. I’ll be sure to send you a few pics and I’ll see you at the event.


No posts found

Leave a reply