Round 1980, Michael Lightbourn noticed an odd, enclosed automobile trailer off to the aspect of a cotton farm on the outskirts of Fabens, Texas. He finally met the proprietor, Bob Kimpel, who unlocked the trailer’s door and let Lightbourn peek inside. There, he eyeballed the again of a single-seat, tube-frame race automobile that stretched 188 inches because it ran towards the trailer’s nostril. Kimpel defined this outdated race automobile was named “Moonburst” and had been featured in a problem of HOT ROD journal; it was additionally spun from famed hot-rodder and racer Dean Moon’s store—in case you someway do not know the identify, you positively know the Mooneyes brand. Feeling the sense of awe and surprise that comes with uncovering buried treasure, Lightbourn was keen to purchase. Kimpel did not need to promote, however that did not cease the 2 from turning into buddies, and so they saved involved over the following many years.
Kimpel had bought Moonburst for $1,200 in “1973 or 1974,” by means of a Cincinnati, Ohio, labeled advert. He wasn’t even conscious of the automobile’s legacy till after the acquisition, when the vendor mentioned, “Oh by the way in which, it was featured in some journal.” On the native library he searched again problems with HOT ROD and at last noticed his automobile on web page 72 of the July 1971 problem. Enthused, he bought busy looking down the unique Mr. Ed trailer that Jack MacKay used to move Moonburst to tug races within the 1970s. The trailer price greater than the automobile, though not bu a lot: Kimpel recollects the worth was “$1300 or $1500,” which he gladly anted up.
A drag racer himself, Kimpel labored as a heliarc welder at a chassis store. His unique intention was to transform Moonburst to the newer-and-safer rear-engine structure. Fortunate for preservationists, he by no means bought round to the job. Renewed interest in these old dragsters, glamorized throughout cacklefests—occasions the place nitro-burning dragsters from t he “Golden Period of Drag Racing” make their distinctive crackling noises—impressed a curious publish on Fb: No matter occurred to Moonburst? One girl replied to the publish, noting her father-in-law owned that very automobile. When the recent rod crowd came upon, somebody provided $90,000 for it. On June 3, 2020, for the primary time since 1977, Bob Kimpel pulled the automobile and elements out of the trailer for inspection.
What’s spectacular about Moonburst is the automobile basically entered a time capsule when it was sealed contained in the Mr. Ed trailer. The Woody Gilmore chassis is in glorious situation and nonetheless wears its unique paint. The Tom Hanna-crafted aluminum physique is all there, and though these items have been stripped of paint, the metallic is in glorious form save for a small dent on the nostril. A lot of the unique elements stay aside from the blown 392 Chrysler Hemi (drag racers often maintain their engines after they promote a automobile). However within the 1970s, Bob rounded up a 392 Hemi block, a pair of 6-71 Thompson and Detroit superchargers, and an consumption for an early-model Chrysler Hemi.
But as the 2 outdated buddies talked within the presence of an iconic piece of drag-racing equipment, it grew to become apparent Kimpel remained unwilling to promote the automobile. That is okay. “Let Bob end at the least one merchandise on his bucket record,” Lightbourn mentioned with amusing. Optimistically, we’ll hear Moonburst cackle once more within the close to future.