The Holy Grail of Hot Rods is Found After 50 Years – Uncertain-T
The infamous and mythologized “Uncertain-T” returns to the American car show circuit
One of hot rodding’s wildest and most memorable custom cars, dubbed “Uncertain-T,” has been “unearthed” by Galpin Motors’ Beau Boeckmann after disappearing for nearly half a century.
The Uncertain-T was an icon of the late ‘60s show-car scene, appearing at car shows across the country for an unprecedented five-year span before it disappeared entirely in the mid-1970s. In an almost unbelievable twist, after searching for years all over the world, Boeckmann rediscovered the car in a dusty warehouse just blocks away from his flagship Galpin dealership in Van Nuys.
“This time, the Uncertain- T found me, I didn’t find it,” said Boeckmann, president and CEO of Galpin Motors. “While this historic hot rod has been a worldwide phenomenon, with its whereabouts unknown for so many decades, I love that it was built and found in the San Fernando Valley right down the street from Galpin Ford. What makes it even more sentimental is the connection between the previous owner, Dick Nickerson, and my father, who all worked on the Mach IV four-engine Mustang Funny Car together in 1969.”
The importance of this relic lies in the impact it had on custom automotive culture, both during its heyday and beyond. The idea for The Uncertain-T was born in mid-1960 when a cartoon drawn by a classmate inspired 17-year-old Steve Scott. His friends said building the car would be impossible, but Scott immediately went to work crafting it in his parents’ Reseda garage.
Though the car was built to loosely emulate a Ford Model T, the concept was completely abstract, making it both a custom hot rod and a rolling piece of art. The body was formed out of fiberglass (a very rare method at the time), and the chassis was scratch-built from steel tubing. When Scott debuted the car in 1965 after five years of construction, it won almost every prestigious award possible, beating the likes of George Barris, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Dan Woods. It made such an impression in automotive culture that show promoters paid Scott to tour it all over the country, introducing it to a nationwide audience.
Later, a Monogram 1/24-scale plastic model kit of the car was released, which brought the car into households across America. Uncertain-T is even said to have inspired Tom Wolfe’s first book, “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” Add to that multiple cover features in prominent custom car magazines, and the little T cemented itself in American automotive history.
In the age of TV shows like “American Pickers” and “Antiques Roadshow,” this “barn find” rates an 11 out of 10 in epic cultural archeology. Given its lengthy hibernation after such an abrupt disappearance, the fate of Uncertain-T has been discussed and mythologized for half a century. Would-be hunters have searched for it, multiple clones have been built in tribute and stories have been passed down through generations, heightening its already substantial mystique. The discovery of the car will undoubtedly send shockwaves through the hot-rod community, potentially answering questions that have perplexed many for decades.
Along with lead restoration specialist Dave Shuten, Boeckmann plans to restore the car to the exact configuration and appearance of its debut in 1965 and return it to the car show circuit that made it so famous. Boeckmann and Shuten documented the extraction of the dilapidated relic from its final resting place and will record the process of the upcoming restoration for posterity.
The hot rod will be shown in its “as found” condition at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, Feb. 2-4, and at the Detroit Autorama in March before undergoing its extensive restoration.
Photos courtesy of Galpin Motors