No automobile better defines the American hot rod than a 1923 Ford T-bucket with massive rear tires and a 500-horsepower small-block Chevrolet engine wedged between its frame rails.

Numerous examples of this hot rodding icon will be on display during the 13th annual Goodguys Southeastern Nationals Oct. 27-29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including an eye-catching white, blue and red T-bucket owned by Charlotte resident Art Armstrong.

"You see nice pickup trucks and old cars with fancy paint jobs at the Goodguys shows, but there is just something about the T-buckets with their open engines." Armstrong said. "They certainly attract a lot of attention.

"I was initially attracted to the T-bucket because I've always liked smaller, aggressive looking cars. The stance of the body on the frame is what got my attention, along with the open engine. I was in drag racing back in the late 1960s and early '70s, so I was always into those smaller cars."

Armstrong's T-bucket, built in 1967, was in a state of disrepair when the Syracuse, N.Y., native purchased it in 1993.

"It was in rough shape. I stripped it right down to the bare frame and took two years to rebuild it," Armstrong explained. "The wiring was a nightmare and it had two different sized cylinder heads on it. It was just something somebody had thrown together, so I basically went through the whole car.

"The engine started out as a 350-cubic-inch Chevrolet and I put a stroker kit in it which brought it up to about 388 cubic inches," Armstrong continued. "With the blower and the computer program I have, I figure it's got around 500 horsepower. It definitely doesn't back down while climbing a hill!"

Armstrong began tinkering with cars as a teenager and now has 39 years experience in the tractor-trailer repair industry.

"I have always been into automotive repair. I started when I was 13, tinkering with my dad's car whenever I could get away with it," he said. "I'm 59 now, but with the mind of a 29 year old. Once this stuff gets in your blood, it's hard to get it out."

A member of the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association since 1993, Armstrong says the Southeastern Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway is much more than a car show.

"It's like a reunion as you see all the great people you only get to see once a year," Armstrong explained. "Saturday night is the best part of the three-day show. When it's dark and the cars are cruising around the track under the lights, it's just phenomenal.

"I go to these shows not trying to win prizes or awards," Armstrong added. "I go to look for ideas; different paint schemes or engine configurations. You get a lot of great ideas."

After the Oct. 27-29 Goodguys Southeastern Nationals at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Armstrong plans to upgrade his T-bucket's interior.

"I'm not really sure about the colors yet, but it will have all new fabric. I would like to put something in that matches the blue frame and blend something with the white body," he said. "The bottom seat is a bench seat and I am thinking about adding some stitching to make it look like two separate seats.

"The T-bucket has been a lot of fun and I enjoy working on it. But when you get involved with these cars you're always changing something."

The 13th annual Goodguys Southeastern Nationals will feature more than 3,000 pre-1972 hot rods, street rods, customs, classics, muscle cars and trucks.

Also included in the weekend-the fastest growing show on the Goodguys calendar-is a manufacturer's midway, swap meet, car corral area with vehicles for sale, model car and pedal car show plus a chance to ride around the famous Charlotte Motor Speedway oval at 130-plus miles per hour in the passenger seat of a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race car.

Saturday night will see the return of the popular Cruise Under the Lights, where hundreds of hot rods and customs take to the 1.5-mile superspeedway for several laps.

Tickets for the Oct. 27-29 Goodguys Southeastern Nationals will be available on event days. General admission is $15 for adults with children ages 7 to 12 admitted for $6. Children 6 and under are admitted free.

For information, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway events department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or www.good-guys.com.