Home » Holy Grail Hotrod Lost For Over 50 Years: Here’s My Up-Close Look At The Recently-Discovered ‘Uncertain-T’

Holy Grail Hotrod Lost For Over 50 Years: Here’s My Up-Close Look At The Recently-Discovered ‘Uncertain-T’

Uncertain T Hot Rod Ts Copy
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Not just lost for 50 years, but hidden for 50 years. The story of how the legendary “Uncertain-T” was found is one so steeped in mystique that to do it justice would require tens of thousands of words and more memory cards than I ever care to shove into a video camera. It is the ultimate Holy Grail of hotrods/showrods, and one of the great Holy Grails of car culture at large. I had the honor of being one of the first to see the Uncertain-T in over 50 years, and to speak with those who found it: Autopian cofounder Beau Boeckmann and legendary hotrod builder Dave Shuten. Here’s what I learned.

Few people in the world are as devoted to car culture, and especially hot rod culture, as Beau. Beau doesn’t just buy hotrods, he spends years finding them, restoring them, and showing them to the world. He even had his own show about this. So when Beau told me he found the Holy Grail of hotrods and that we needed to go to the Galpin Speed Shop ASAP to film it, I knew I was dealing with something serious.

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What I saw when I arrived at the Speed Shop blew my mind:

To give you an idea of how rare the Uncertain-T is, check out this April Fools joke by Shuten:

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A post shared by Dave Shuten (@daveshuten)

 

That’s right, this thing was so lost, folks joked about finding it. Here are some of the comments on this post. This person was just incredulous, apparently not realizing it was April 1:

holy f——

These folks played into the joke:

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It was sitting right next to Moonglow and the James Dean car. Who’d have guessed?

[…]

I hear they found jimmy Hoffa inside it too

Some folks said they wished it were true:

That’s a good April fool’s joke.. we could only wish ????

Cruel April fools joke!
Damn you if this is a joke!
Please don’t tell me this is an April fools joke
And a number of people described how important the car had been to their journey as car enthusiasts:
This is THE CAR that got me into hot rods! Ever since I got the Rodders Journal with the Uncertain T on the cover!!
Here’s a look at the Rodder’s Journal magazine the person above is referencing:

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This is just one of the many magazine covers the Uncertain-T graced after its debut at the Winternationals in January of 1965; here are a couple others:

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And over the years, countless tribute cars have been built:

 

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This video of a New Zealand man named Martin Bennett reverse engineering the Uncertain-T based solely on photos and more importantly on the toy model (which itself is worth over $1,000 today) is just incredible:

Suffice it to say: The Uncertain-T made a huge splash when it debuted, then it got so lost folks started joking about finding it, but now — over 50 years after it fell off the grid — Beau and Dave managed to find it, and not far from where it started out life: In the San Fernando Valley.
It’s a huge find, and undoubtedly a Holy Grail, not just because its groundbreaking abstract design would go on to influence so many hot rods that would come later, and not solely because it was lost, but because of the rest of the incredible story behind the car. The Uncertain-T was built my Steve Scott, an 18 year-old who decided to pony up $15 grand (a huge sum at the time) to build a hot rod that his friend had penned in class. Yes, you read that right: This legendary hotrod design came from the tip of a pen wielded by a child, and from the tip of a welding gun wielded by a teen. For Scott to make his debut at such a young age, to then beat out the best hotrod builders on earth, and to then call it quits and fall off the grid entirely is such an incredible underdog story that, when combined with the mystique of where the car disappeared to, made the vehicle the ultimate Holy Grail in the hotrod world.
As you can see in the video at the top of this story, Dave says he’s been looking for The Uncertain-T for over 30 years, even buying up phonebooks on eBay to look up addresses where it might have been, and then prowling those addresses (respectfully) for hotrod gold. But as with many things in this life, the most desirable fortune often escapes its hunters and manages to find a suitor on its own terms. That was the case here; as Beau told me, a man named Dick bought the car from Steve Scott and hid it for many decades, planning to restore it. When it became clear that those plans would never reach fruition, Dick sought to reach out to his friend Bert Boeckmann, head of Galpin and the man who had sponsored his four-engine Mustang build in 1969. After learning of Bert’s passing last year, Dick wasn’t sure whom to sell the car to, only to be reminded by someone that Bert’s son and current head of Galpin, Beau, is a huge hotrod fan.
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Dick reached out to Beau, Beau stopped by a crowded garage and uncovered the ultimate hotrod Holy Grail (see above), and the rest will go down as hotrod lore for generations to come.
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As for what shape the car’s in: I’m amazed. Everything is there! It looks complete, which is incredible for show rods like these, which — according to Dave Shuten — tend to get hacked up and modified for the next show. But I guess Steve and Dick saw no point in hacking up perfection.

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Doug Schaefer
Doug Schaefer
21 days ago

I’d love to hear more of the history. When and why was it painted? What happened to the original wheels?

Also cool to see a 1960 Squarebird convertible in the background of the video.

Last edited 21 days ago by Doug Schaefer
Black Peter
Black Peter
29 days ago

Steve Scott’s story is a interesting and mysterious as the car. He only ever build 2, this and a Caddy powered Ford. Seems that 2 years after building the car, showing it, getting slapped by Barris, working for CarCraft, then Peterson, he dropped off the map.
https://kustomrama.com/wiki/Steve_Scott%27s_Uncertain-T

Last edited 29 days ago by Black Peter
Highland Green Miata
Highland Green Miata
29 days ago

Stories like this are the reason automotive journalism needs to survive.

Phil Layshio
Phil Layshio
30 days ago

Please don’t restore this car. Get it running, and driving safely. It needs to tell its own story.

Ben
Ben
29 days ago
Reply to  Phil Layshio

Eh, it’s a show car that rotted in someone’s garage. That patina wasn’t earned in any meaningful way, it was just neglected. This isn’t an old work truck where every scratch and dent has a story.

Freelivin1327
Freelivin1327
30 days ago

Wow, this is so amazing! This thing is awesome and I love the mystery behind the history of it too…perfect place for it to go to

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
30 days ago

That is a thing of beauty—just the way it is now.
I (perhaps heretically) don’t find it beautiful the way it was in 1965. Instead, I love it for its absurdity. The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby was published in 1965. Hotrods were chopped and laid-back—or excessively weird like that Bathtub. This is absolutely poking fun at the prevailing esthetic: leaning into it, if you will, with the large, tall top canted so far forward.

And it swept the shows! Penned by a kid, built by another, it basically went viral—then vanished. That is ‘leave them wanting more’ done right.
I’m not big into car shows, nor do I worship patina, but I’d love to see it just made driveable and left the way it is visually.
I really need to go see this thing in Detroit: it is an absolutely beautiful absurdity

Last edited 30 days ago by TOSSABL
Bill Amick
Bill Amick
30 days ago

I love the Holy Grail aspect, and this one truly deserves it. But, I would like to put forth the following recommendation: Do away with using “Holy Grail” to every rare car. Can we come up with a new nomenclature for the supply and demand of any “rare” car?

Chewcudda
Chewcudda
30 days ago

Awesome facial hair on Beau at the Japan show.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
30 days ago

I am green with envy that you got to see it in person.

Toecutter
Toecutter
30 days ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

Too much envy and you’ll turn into the Green-Eye Monster:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNvTNaH7rqY

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
30 days ago

The Uncertain-T Principle: the more you look for something, the less likely you are to find it. Conversely, when you stop looking for a thing, it’s location becomes known.

RataTejas
RataTejas
30 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Masterful.

Schrodinger’s Hot Rod. It is both in, and not in the garage at the same time.

Grey alien in a beige sedan
Grey alien in a beige sedan
30 days ago

This thing looks like a real life Mario Kart. If I hit the shoulder button twice, does it do a drifting speed boost?

Chronometric
Chronometric
30 days ago

Hey Toecutter, what’s the drag coefficient?

Last edited 30 days ago by Chronometric
Mike Smith
Mike Smith
30 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

All of it.

David Escargot
David Escargot
30 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Yes

Toecutter
Toecutter
30 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I don’t know, but I suspect somewhere around 1.0.

A. Barth
A. Barth
30 days ago

Outstanding – thank you, David and Beau!!

What caught my attention about this amazing car – besides the everything – is the set of wooden caps/plugs currently on the velocity stacks.

The magazine covers show very different items in place: bright reddish-orange and connected with white rope (?) vs the wooden versions on what might be rawhide shoelaces. Fascinating!

Last edited 30 days ago by A. Barth
Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
29 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

I wonder if these are the same items. Wood does not hold paint well in the long run, and that rawhide looks like it was probably white at some point.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
30 days ago

David, please please please. Get Beau to 3D scan it now. As it is, in as much detail as possible.
Document it as it is before the restoration gets underway

Chewcudda
Chewcudda
30 days ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Forza Horizon DLC car.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
29 days ago
Reply to  Chewcudda

So so many options with that scan

DialMforMiata
DialMforMiata
30 days ago

I know it will look incredible once it’s restored, but it will never look as cool as it does right now.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
30 days ago
Reply to  DialMforMiata

I would love to learn that they intended to show the vehicle like this for at least a few years before actually launching in to the restoration.

Last edited 30 days ago by Lockleaf
Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
30 days ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

Came here to say that. Leave the patina for at least a year. And get loads of photos

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
30 days ago
Reply to  Lockleaf

That’s confirmed in a previous article, won’t go under the knife for a while.

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