Road Rules! More Than 430,000 Miles in a T-Bucket? Harley and Linda Alcox Have Done It!
People sometimes joke that T-bucket street rods are like motorcycles with four wheels. There’s room for two people, you’re out in the elements, and there’s little if any space for luggage.
It’s little wonder, then, that Harley and Linda Alcox spent years traveling the country on a Harley Davidson before they started hitting the road in this ’23 T nearly three decades ago. It’s also worth noting that Harley is a motorcycle mechanic for, you guessed it, Harley-Davidson. With those credentials, it’s hardly surprising that the couple have racked up more than 430,000 miles in this T.
“Believe it or not, she actually helped me build this car,” Harley says. “It was kind of a labor of love.”
The initial rebuild was pretty basic, using a dropped front axle that came with the rolling project, a conventional rear axle, and a 305c.i. small-block Chevy. With fresh blue paint, it was good enough for them to make an initial drive from their home near the town of Nevada, Iowa, all the way to Arizona. In February. Without a top.
“My folks were wintering in Phoenix at the time, and we wanted to drive the car down there,” Harley says. Even without a top, he says it was an improvement over their two-wheeler. “Jumping from motorcycle to T-bucket, I felt like I was in heaven.”
Harley and Linda were bundled up in snowmobile suits and helmets for that maiden voyage in the cold. With luggage strapped to the back of the T, they garnered plenty of attention, especially from law enforcement as the T wandered a little on the road. “I was pulled over twice, not for excessive speed, but they observed me going across the yellow lines,” Harley says.
Harley continued to make changes and improvements during those first few years, adding a top, pink flames, and other upgrades. In 1994 he added the independent rear suspension using parts from ’88 and ’94 Corvettes, narrowed on each side, with coil-over shocks. The front brakes use Harley-Davidson Brembo rotors with Wilwood calipers. In back, due to the extra wide tires and 15-inch wheels, Harley opted for dual calipers to clamp each Corvette rotor.
The car’s blue paint eventually gave way to the black-with-flames finish on the car now. There’s also a tow-behind trailer for luggage, tools, and a different set of tires. Harley and Linda now use headsets to keep out the wind noise, listen to the radio, and talk with each other.
The engine and transmission have seen several incarnations over time, too. The current setup is a 406c.i. small block Chevy with Trick Flow aluminum heads. It’s backed by a 700R4 automatic with a custom cable shifter tucked up under the dash. After burning their legs too many times on conventional roadster header side pipes, Harley installed the distinctive Twister headers from Sanderson, which are run without mufflers.
The quartet of 48mm Weber IDA carbs draw the most attention on the engine, though. They were purchased new through Total Performance in 1999, after the T had already racked up 250,000 miles. It took a bit of tuning to get them set up, but Harley says he has them dialed in well now. It’s crucial to keep them clean and maintained, though, since each cylinder is fed exclusively by one barrel of a carburetor. If a carb fouls, one (or more) engine cylinder can be starved or flooded. “I’m basically running eight one-cylinder engines with a common crankshaft,” Harley says.
Harley notes that most of the time you see Weber IDA carburetors, they’re tucked in a closed-hood car. He believes he’s learned the reason for this. “These things aren’t really happy out in the wind,” he says. “That’s why I have to have a plastic box over them.”
Still, Harley notes that adding the Webers cut about a half second off his best quarter-mile time. That’s right, this T has seen some use on the drag strip, too. Its best time was an 11.68 @ 118mph at Tri-State Raceway in eastern Iowa.
The T has done less drag racing in recent years, but still sees plenty of road miles traveling to events all across the country. The only part of the country the couple hasn’t explored is the Northeast, Harley says, but “pretty much everything else has been covered multiple times. I write down the mileage at the end of every year. I’ve got 430,300 miles on it now.”
When we spoke with Harley in March, he was preparing for the drive from Iowa to the Goodguys LMC Truck Spring Lone Star Nationals in Fort Worth, where he will help out as a Goodguys Rodders Rep in addition to enjoying the event. Beyond Goodguys events, the couple can routinely be found on weekends at local events around their region or larger shows across the country.
All that travel involves being exposed the elements to some degree, but that’s part of the adventure for this couple. After nearly 30 years on the road, they’ve learned to deal with most types of weather. “When it’s hot, we’re sweaty; when it’s cold, we’re cold; when it rains, we get wet,” Harley says. “The cold bothers me a little bit more now that I’m 73 years old. You use a lot of Chapstick.”
“We put up with a lot of adversities in this car,” he continues, “but we wouldn’t do it if it was something we didn’t enjoy. We’ve got to a point in our lives where we’ve got to enjoy what we do. That’s what hot rodding’s all about to me – just go, go, go.”