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Santos/Buterra Billet-T Rebuild fun/nightmare


I have part this story in my album, but thought some of the members might miss it, and enjoy watching the rebuild progress, as well as learn from my loss.
The "Billet-T" made its debut in 1987, at the Oakland Nationals, with an orange and 14Kt. gold flake paint job, brass everywhere, including brass-plated dash, blower pulleys, wire looms, etc. It had a chrome '48 Ford suspension and a 327 with a BDS blower. The owner invested a small fortune in custom parts and plating. He was so upset, that it didn't win "Best of Show", he took it back to LA, and had it totally disassembled, and started from scratch again. He had Rick Santos rebuild the motor, polish the block, heads and turbo-350 tranny. He tossed the suspension and talked John Buterra into designing and fabricating, the all-billet front torsion-bar suspension, front caliper/fender mounts, and IRS swingarms to adapt to a Jag rear-end. He then had a full set of English Wheel hand-formed aluminum fenders and stainless steel supports made, artist unknown. The owner lost interest and the rod was never reassembled, and sat in storage for over 20ys. In Feb., '08, he donated it to a Calif. Hiway Patrol Charity, which placed it on Ebay, shortly after, where I acquired it. I picked it up on Palm Springs, and brought it back to Az., with trailer load of parts and boxes, and boxes of more parts. When I pulled up to the house, my wife, whom I neglected to tell I bought it, thought I had totally lost it.

The next paragraph probably should and could be a new thread in itself.

A couple of weeks after I brought it home, a supposedly super-duper rod builder, with a great portfolio, who had recently, relocated to Az. from back east, quoted me a rebuild price of $7K, as he needed the work, but needed an advance of $4k. Later he needed $3K more to pay his rent and keep his kids in groceries. Two months ago and still no progress, except for a painted motor and a body that will have to be repainted, he emailed me that he was having to move, and I needed to buy a trailer, so he could finish it in his backyard. I dropped off the trailer and 48 hrs. later, received another email, that I needed to pick it up, as the neighbors were complaining, and his garage was full of other work, he had taken on. He could work it in in about 60 days. He was nowhere to be seen when I arrived to pick it up, but his mother who answered the door, said he went back east for a couple of months. Much to my dismay, the rod was in worse condition, than when I droppped it off, minus 6 vintage Shelby mags, valve covers, coilovers, and numerous other parts, and had been sitting on the street, for two days, where anyone could have taken any and everthing.

MORAL: Get a contract, don't pay in cash, get a signed inventory of parts, and a receipt required for every purchase, that the person tells you he bought. Otherwise, you are screwed!!!

Now I am rebuilding it myself, which I should have done to start with, because I am OCD, and wash my tools in the dishwasher, until the wife catches me. I have some friends, whose talent far exeeds mine, who have volunteered to assist me, and we are having a ball. Will keep you updated.
Good luck on your build, I look forward to watching the progress. Let us know what we can do to help.
Thanks! I would like to give t-4-2, who purchased his rod from me, for recommending this site. I new it was a good omen, when I purchased the '27 "Lil Keg", from a guy named Rick, from Blanchard, Okla. and eventually sold it to a guy named, Rick Blanchard. It is by far the greatest and most talented membership for T's, on the web. I have reviewed everything from electrical. suspensions, brakes, cooling, and carbs. I have owned rods, mostly T's for nearly 50yrs., but am a novice, when it comes to the fine tuned technical knowledge, I feel fortunate to have friends and the tbucketeers, to help me to the end result. The "Billet-T" is truly a work of art and a piece of history.
Don't know the manuf. at the moment, but the color is Neon Blue with mini-rainbow metallic flakes

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