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tjet 12-24-2011 06:12 PM

Anybody put an early hemi into a T bucket?
Last year, I bought a '53 331 Chry hemi off my buddy because he needed the money. I really didn't have any plans for it at the time. I was going to drop it into my '59 pickup, but the Olds 455 in my truck hasn't died yet. The engine is complete & it still has oil in it!! I picked up a few things for it since - '54 heads & a 4bbl intake, along with a manual transmission adapter plate & some other goodies + a healthy cam

I'm thinking a T bucket would be really cool.

Anyone have pics of something like this? I'm already looking at a few Speedway T bucket kits :D

tjet 12-24-2011 06:37 PM

2 Attachment(s)
This is it (see attached pics)

WDCreech 12-24-2011 08:38 PM

Back in the day, that is what was generally done, You got an old Ford, put a hemi in it and go to the track!
Centerline, come and clue him in!

tjet 12-24-2011 09:17 PM

I like this kit

Tribute T Bucket

The rear axle kit is more than the frame & body tho :eek:

ChevelleSS_LS6 12-24-2011 11:58 PM


Originally Posted by WDCreech
Back in the day, that is what was generally done, You got an old Ford, put a hemi in it and go to the track!
Centerline, come and clue him in!

Centerline would be the guy to go to with any early Hemi questions.

I saw a guy make a 'modern equivilant of a bucket' with a S10 cab, what appeared to be a shortened rear section of chassis (no box), and no front bodywork. Sitting low with big n littles, it was pretty slick.

It ran a 350 Chevy. Good engines, but I love it when guys run different powerplants.

p.s. I love oldsmobile engines... they were factory balanced :thumbup:

tjet 12-25-2011 02:34 AM


Originally Posted by ChevelleSS_LS6
...p.s. I love oldsmobile engines... they were factory balanced :thumbup:

I like 'em too. The 455 in my '59 has a few hundred thousand miles & still runs good and doesn't burn any oil.

Looking forward to my new hemi project. I think it would be really cool to see an early hemi in a T bucket kit (instead of the typical SBC)

Someone previously asked Speedway that same question (below)

Speedway Q&A

"Q: Do this company have plans for this roadster for chrysler small blocks and hemi engines?"

"A: You wondered if there is a Hemi-powered or small-block Chrysler powered version of the Tribute T. The answer is NO. These will initially be available with set up for a 1949-1953 Ford flat-head or a typical Chevy smallblock."

delawarebill 12-25-2011 07:27 AM

hemi in a T....
awsome !!!!!!!!!!! ive seen a few and they stand out big time..
i know "hemiT" and i think blownT on the NTBA have them..

timothale 12-25-2011 09:49 AM

T buckets
the last 2 T bucket chassis I built using the CCR plans. On The first CCR one I lengthened the front of the frame, hairpins steering draglink 8 inches, The second one I added 4 inches in the rear of the kick-up . At the end of the day at the local swap meet I got a steel Touring body for $ 60, It just needed Cowl top and Firewall and My son has those pieces he found in the desert, I have been thinking about piecing the tub back together as a lengthened bucket, My brother shortened a tub in the early 60's and it looked good and was easy. In the early 60's I had an olds in mine and he had a Caddy, I had a friend that had a Hemi in a 27 bucket with a shortened pickup bed. Unles he put some weight in the bed he would just burn a lot of rubber, ,

Centerline 12-25-2011 04:54 PM

Early hemis aren't exactly light and they're not cheap to rebuild either. However they are awesome in anything where the engine is out in the open. A "T" bucket would be a prime example of this. Just keep in mind that you probably won't be able to run motorcycle front tires due to the weight (about 700 lbs.) and it won't handle like a sports car either.... but it should be loads of fun.

Non performance rebuild on a 331 will run around three grand. Ad performance parts and you could easily run it up to 5-8 grand. In something light like a "T" bucket you won't need much high performance stuff to have fun. Since your block is an early 331 it has the extended bellhousing which will somewhat limit your choice for a modern trans. If you already have a trans adapter just make sure its for the extended bellhousing version and not the later units... they aren't interchangeable. And it is easier to use a manual trans with the extended bellhousings than automatics.

You say you have a 4 bbl manifold for this engine. Does it have the thermostat housing in the intake? If not it will require machine work to add exits for the coolant since the heads you have don't have the later mounts for the thermostat crossover. Here is a pic of a '54 block with '54 heads. Notice the intake manifold and the location of the thermostat housing. Its in the intake just like a SBC. These 4 bbl. intakes are pretty rare and I wouldn't be surprised if you don't have one.

Now look at this pic. This one is a '55 331 with '55 heads. Notice the thermostat crossover that bolts to the heads. There is no thermostat in the intake manifold.

Early Chrysler hemis prior to '55 had a "wet" intake manifold while the later versions '55-58 all had the thermostat crossover. If yours doesn't have the thermostat housing in the manifold you can still use it but you'll need two exits machined into the intake and you'll have to run coolant lines from the heads to a remote thermostat housing, similar to a Ford flathead. Hot Heads has this setup available here or you can make up your own.. probably a lot cheaper.

Hot Heads has just about anything you might need to make this happen.


If money is what makes cars fast, mine otta be going 400 miles an hour!". - Felix Sabates

tjet 12-25-2011 06:48 PM

Centerline, I've been reading your page over the past year - good stuff!

The '53 motor I bought is a low mile engine & is complete. I pretty much have all my performance parts except for high comp pistons, rings & bearings. I got a decent deal on the larger port '54 heads & the matching 4bbl intake too :D (see below)

54 intake

I will rebuild it myself. The only thing I will farm out will be the headwork.

Here's the trans adapter I just got

HH M/T adapter

I hope the extended bell will fit in that Tribute T kit, cause that's the one I want.

I do have a question for you though: Will 392 lifters work in a 331?

Also, what did you do about the smaller bypass hose on the thermostat housing after you installed the SBC water pump?


Centerline 12-25-2011 06:58 PM

You've been doing your homework and have the correct parts. I see no reason why the extended bellhousing hemi shouldn't fit in a "T" bucket chassis. Its not like it hasn't been done before. :D Worst case scenario you might have to modify the firewall slightly but that depends on the manufacturer .... and yes, stock hydraulic lifters for a 392 should fit. Just beware of using Mopar lifters that were made for the B/RB engines as they use a larger "ball" diameter on the pushrods and the lifters are sized accordingly. Prior to about '62 (I think) Chrysler used a 1/4" ball but the big blocks went slightly larger, 5/16" I believe.

Your intake was made for the small base WCFB carb and if you want to use a modern AFB you'll need to have the bores opened up and use an adapter. Not a big deal but makes things easier. Although the WCFB carbs were good carbs, they were a little small in the CFM department.


I wrote to the head man at General Motors and said, "I`m gonna have to desert you if you don't stop making cars for women." - John Wayne

tjet 12-25-2011 07:25 PM

I wanted to double check on the lifters. I got a set of Crower Camsaver lifters. Dave Crower himself gave me a great deal on them because he's a hemi nut too. They have a groove on the side to allow more oil to the lifter face. The pushrod cup takes a 1/8" radius (1/4" ball size) pushrod, which is the size of the adjustable pushrods I bought from someone on the HAMB.

The cam I ended up getting is a custom grind hyd flat tappet from Howards Cam. It's very similar to comp xtreme marine grind: 224* @ .050" & 268* adv dur, .485" total lift & 112 LS.

I'm gonna have the manifold opened up to match the AFB/WCFB adapter & got. I have a few carbs to use, but I'd really like to get that Ez-EFI fuel injection kit from F.A.S.T. How cool would that be? I already bought the EFI coolant temp sensor & 02 sensor bung from FAST so they will be installed when I'm ready to convert it to EFI

Centerline 12-25-2011 07:33 PM

EFI is definitely nice... but too spendy for my budget. Should be really nice though.


If money is what makes cars fast, mine otta be going 400 miles an hour!". - Felix Sabates

tjet 12-25-2011 07:47 PM

I'm gonna put it on my long-term wish list. Pretty cool setup. I will install a return line just incase I decide to pull the trigger on it. Here is an install link

You tube

Also - my thermostat housing has a bypass outlet hose on it (see my pic below). I see your engine does not have one because of the Chevy WP. What year housing did you use?

my 331 Hemi

tjet 12-28-2011 05:49 AM

Thanks guys for the info :D
I will see about finding a used frame for this hemi once I get my other project out of the way. I don't have the room yet for another car.

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