Round 1980, Michael Lightbourn noticed an odd, enclosed automotive trailer off to the facet 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 automotive that stretched 188 inches because it ran towards the trailer’s nostril. Kimpel defined this previous race automotive was named “Moonburst” and had been featured in a difficulty of HOT ROD journal; it was additionally spun from famed hot-rodder and racer Dean Moon’s store—in the event you by some means do not know the title, you positively know the Mooneyes emblem. Feeling the sense of awe and marvel 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 changing into associates, and so they saved in touch over the following many years.
Kimpel had bought Moonburst for $1,200 in “1973 or 1974,” via a Cincinnati, Ohio, labeled advert. He wasn’t even conscious of the automotive’s legacy till after the acquisition, when the vendor mentioned, “Oh by the best way, it was featured in some journal.” On the native library he searched again problems with HOT ROD and at last noticed his automotive on web page 72 of the July 1971 difficulty. Enthused, he acquired busy looking down the unique Mr. Ed trailer that Jack MacKay used to move Moonburst to pull races within the 1970s. The trailer price greater than the automotive, though not bu a lot: Kimpel recollects the value 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 acquired 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 put up on Fb: No matter occurred to Moonburst? One lady replied to the put up, noting her father-in-law owned that very automotive. When the new rod crowd discovered, somebody provided $90,000 for it. On June 3, 2020, for the primary time since 1977, Bob Kimpel pulled the automotive and components out of the trailer for inspection.
What’s spectacular about Moonburst is the automotive primarily 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 steel is in glorious form save for a small dent on the nostril. A lot of the unique components stay apart from the blown 392 Chrysler Hemi (drag racers normally maintain their engines after they promote a automotive). 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 previous associates talked within the presence of an iconic piece of drag-racing equipment, it turned apparent Kimpel remained unwilling to promote the automotive. That is okay. “Let Bob end at the very least one merchandise on his bucket checklist,” Lightbourn mentioned with amusing. With a bit of luck, we’ll hear Moonburst cackle once more within the close to future.