In the early 1960s, Starbird partnered with Monogram to create a series of scale model kits of unique hot rods and customs. His first effort was a 1/8th-scale 1923 Model T Ford roadster pickup known as “Big T.” The model was very well detailed, and the parts were so authentically fashioned that it felt as though they were assembling a real car.
Starbird built an actual “Big T,” and it was a major presence on the show circuit. After several years, the original “Big T” was awarded to a lucky model contest winner, and was never seen again. To this day, the location of the original car is a complete mystery.
The Big T was so popular at the time that it was featured in many magazines, including Car Craft, Rod & Custom, and Popular Hot Rodding.
Decades later, Starbird coordinated with Chad Vogele and the staff at Predator Performance in Dubois, Pa., to build replicas of his “Big T” roadster. All the details of the original are there, from the dark-red paint and hand-applied white pinstriping to the white carriage-style high tops, the “baby moon” hubcaps, the antennas frenched into the cowl and the vintage Model T running lamps.
A '57 283 ci Chevy was rebuilt in-house at Predator Performance. The rebuild includes a Tri-power setup from Hot Rod and Custom Supply (Cape Coral, FL) straddled by a pair of original Corvette seven-fin valve covers. Behind the small-block is a Ford "top-loader" manual transmission made to resemble the early LaSalle transmission used in the original Big T with a top shift conversion kit from David Kee (San Antonio, TX). Completing the retro drivetrain is an early Ford banjo rear end fitted with an aluminum quick-change center section.
The Chassis used was a perimeter frame for Total Performance, Chad Vogele incorporated a Model A Ford rear crossmember to recreate the chasses as close as possible to the original Big T frame.
While the original Big T used gennie Ford tin, they used fiberglass from Spirit Industries for the replicas. The red paint was matched from an original Monogram kit to keep it as close to the original as possible.
The interior was done by InteriorChris Trout. Copies of the original bucket seats came from a kit car supplier, the gauges are Classic Instruments, and the skull shifter knob came from Monogram.
The Museum of American Speed acquired this car as a part of its merger with the Darryl Starbird Museum.