Steve Scott's Uncertain-T
Copyright Steve Scott.
The Uncertain T is a show rod built by Steve Scott of Reseda, California. The idea came alive in 1960, as 17 years old Steve saw a cartoon Rod Larson, a classmate at high school had scribbled down. Steve liked the concept, and decided to build a similar car in his parents one-car garage.
The body was made out of fiberglass, and Steve was spreading the resin around the body bare handed as he didn't like the lack of sensitivity from real gloves. The thin throw away gloves were useless, as they kept sticking to the resin and pulling off. When he was done for the day, a lot of paper towels and a pan of acetone were waiting. He knew this wasn't good, but he didn't plan to do it as a living, and didn't care much. A huge wind up-key was made and installed as a back bumper. A classic hot rod look was achieved by installing stock 1921 Ford Model T headlights, radiator shell, and moto meter.
The short frame was made out of aluminum. Steve made his own custom torsion bar for the car, that went through the frame just behind the front crossbar and the radiator. The dropped tube axle was 8" narrower than early Ford axles. The first version of the car featured 16" motorcycle wire wheels with dragster hubs up front, and mags and slicks in the rear. The steering assembly was a completely re-designed rack and pinion unit from a 1960 MGA roadster.
Power came from a fuel-injected Buick Nailhead engine. The rear end was a Halibrand magnesium Quick Change. Steve built a custom coupler that joined the quick change rear end directly to the rear of the 1955 Pontiac hydro, with only a U-joint between. The front motor mounts that Steve fabricated bolted solidly to the front of the engine with hard rubber pads below and above.
The first version of Scott's Uncertain T was painted in an orange-gold Metalflake. It ran a flowing, non-symmetrical dashboard filled with Stewart-Warner instruments, and fiberglass bucket seats that were upholstered by Lee Wells. The steering column was a chromed 1921 Ford Model T item. The steering wheel came from the same car. The brake pedal worked a 1961 Fiat aluminum master cylinder.
The radical build made its debut at the 1965 Winternationals N.H.R.A. Custom Auto Fair, where Steve won the Special Sweepstakes Award. At the end of the show George Barris slapped Steve, and Steve and George went to court. When Steve filed the complaint against George, Ed Roth drew a cartoon of Steve in the Uncertain T. According to Steve, the reason for the confrontation was that George had built a show car for a family, promising them that they would win the show. George asserted that Steve had "kiss-assed" the judges to win, and decided to give him a slap. At least seven LA Policemen and eight car show officials and workers witnessed the situation. Later on, someone put the car up for sale in the "Hot Rod Mart" classified section for $7,000. Steve never found out who placed that ad.
Steve won trophies everywhere he went with the car. After the Winternationals, the car was entered at the 1965 Oakland Roadster Show and the N.H.R.A National Custom AUto Fair in Indianapolis, where it won the Grand Sweepstakes award in the rod class. The car was also driven on the street, and according to Steve it rode fine. Even with the big top being a super-sized wind catcher. Steve remembers that there wasn't any turbulence in the cab at all, aven up to around 70 mph. The front of the car pushed the air around it so it didn't catch the cab at all, and the slant of the top helped push it down. Even so, and considering the weight of the engine, Steve was always concerned that when someone passed him, the change in wind direction might catch it wrong and flip it over, so he only drove it on a highway a couple of times. After a while, Steve replaced the mag wheels and slicks in the rear with a set of wide Indy tires. He initially wanted the Indy tires in the first place, but he wasn't able to get them, and he really had to do some talking to get them for a non-Indy car.
Steve also dragged his show car, and in 1965 he raced it at the Bakersfield Fuel & Gas Championships at the Famoso Raceway. He started out slowly in front of the stands after passing the starting line before he kicked it and really moved out. Steve remembers seing the looks on people's faces, and the wild cheers as he speeded down to the finish line. After the race, Steve gave Don Garlits a ride. Don enjoyed the ride, and wanted to keep driving around.
In 1965 Steve was also hired as an Associate Editor at Car Craft Magazine. He had been selling photos and stories to various automotive magazines for a few years. One day when he showed his latest stories to Dick Day, the publisher of Car Craft, Dick said that he was not going to buy any more stories from Steve. It would be wrong for him to buy outside material from an employee, and he asked Steve how much they would have to pay him in order to get him as their new Associate Editor. Steve had always been a freelancer, so he thought about it for a minute, before he said what he thought would be a good salary. Dick told him "Not a chance. Nobody is going to work for me for that little", and he then doubled Steve's salary.
Steve worked for Car Craft for about a year, until he was drafted. He was on a waiting list for going into the Coast Guard reserve. After 6 months active duty there weren't any positions available with Car Craft, so he began to work for the Petersen distribution department, learning a lot about the magazine industry.
Steve toured the car at the show circuit for several years. By 1970 it had been painted in a goldish light green Metalflake. Sometime in the 1970s the Uncertain T disappeared from the scene. Steve held onto the car until the early 1980s. In the early 1980s he sold it to a close friend. In 2012 it was still owned by Steve's friend.
Copyright Steve Scott.
Magazine Features and Appearances
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