Darryl Starbird’s “Big T” Goes From Fantasy To Hot Rod Reality

Courtesy of RM Auctions: www.rmauctions.com

During the early ’60s, famed car customizer, Darryl Starbird teamed-up with Monogram to create scaled models of custom street rods, model rods that were so detailed with such quality accessories that many children and adult model-car builders felt like they were assembling real, steel-bodied street rods. Starbird went on to create the real, functional version of his very first model car, a ’23 Model T pickup roadster known as “Big T.” The original Starbird Model T pickup was a 1:8 scale model; several years ago, the model was given to the winner of a contest, and its current location is unknown.

Courtesy of RM Auctions: www.rmauctions.com

About three years ago, Starbird realized that he longed to have back his original “Big T” street rod. Looking to build a pair of exact, “Big T” replicas, Starbird got in touch with Chad Vogele and the staff of Predator Performance in Dubois, Pennsylvania.

What Starbird really wanted was a life-sized version of the “Big T” for his museum, and Vogele and the staff of Predator Performance helped Starbird to build a Model T pickup roadster that was as real to life as Starbird’s original, functional version of the Model T roadster that was once a hit in the show circuit.

The original “Big T” was an actual steel-bodied, Model T; this high-quality reproduction from Predator Performance features a reinforced fiberglass body from Spirit Industries.

The original roadster used a simple ladder frame, but this fiberglass replica rides on a chassis of similar construction from Total Performance. Also staying true to the era on this Model T is a pickup bed from a Model A that’s been shortened 8 inches, and the pickup’s rear section has been flanked with Model T running lights.

Courtesy of RM Auctions: www.rmauctions.com

Just as old-school as the rest of Starbird’s street rod, “Big T” is powered by a Chev 283 that puts-out around 275bhp, a small block from a ’57 Chevy that uses a tri-power intake setup, along with Corvette, seven-fin valve covers and custom, four-in-one headers. While the original “Big T” used a three-speed from a LaSalle, the transmission in this replica is a Ford, “top-loader” with a custom shifter.

Though slightly modified from the original, Darryl Starbird and Predator Performance’s “Big T” is a journey back to the roots of hot rodding, and Predator Performance has worked with Starbird to make that journey just a little bit better this second time around.

Starbird's 'Big T' is driven by a tri-powered, 283 small block from a '57 Chevy, a V8 that puts-out around 275bhp.

About the author

Salvatore Alaimo

After graduating from California State University, Northridge, California, Sal Alaimo Jr. has continued with his passion of the automotive industry. Alaimo's been an auto enthusiast since his early years, and grew up learning about cars from his father, Sal Alaimo Sr. If its got a set of fat rear tires and 8-cylinders, Alaimo Jr. is all for it. Today, Alaimo Jr. brings with him a pool of enthusiasm and pride as a contributing freelance writer for Chevy Hardcore.
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