Friday, January 2, 2009

Ted Brown: T-Bucket Chassis Designer Extraordinaire

Ted Brown was a young hot rodder from Minnesota who heeded the advice to "go west young man" to seek fame and fortune. Man, was he ever successful!

After arriving in Southern California, Ted had the opportunity to see Norm Grabowski's "Kookie" T-bucket at the famous Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake and "was totally blown away". "That car is what got me wanting to build those types of rods," Ted said recently. But first Ted went into partnership with another legendary chassis builder, Chuck Finders, and contributed to the success of many of the nationally successful A/Gas Supercharged cars of the day, including Stone Woods & Cook, K.S. Pittman, Jr. Thompson, Hamberis & Mitchell and, my personal favorite, the MGM-C & O Hydro AG/S Austin pickup.

About 10 years ago, I bought a set of the California Custom Roadsters (CCR) T-bucket chassis plans and blogged about them last year. I was particularly taken with the CCR logo image with its rakish lines and sleek top.

Not too long ago, I was looking at an old Rod & Custom from the early 70s and noticed an uncanny resemblence to the CCR image in a Ted Brown Chassis ad.

After researching my old magazines a bit more, I then made the connection. The first ads for the CCR plans, which ran in 1973, referred to "Plans & Data for building the famous Ted Brown/Bill Keifer Chassis." I then learned that Ted established CCR in 1971 with Bill Keifer as his partner; the CCR plans were Ted's unique, original design; and Ted was eventually eased out and no longer given credit for his unique frame design which was built by CCR into thousands of T-buckets and by plan set purchasers into many more thousands (estimated at 4000 T-buckets in 1977). Net result, Ted Brown is perhaps the most influential, yet totally unrecognized, T-bucket chassis designer of all time.

Today, Ted is "retired" in Bakersfield, CA and still driving his T-bucket which has racked up over 200,000 miles and has been home to a variety of engines, including Buick nailhead as well as big block and small block Chevys.

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