I was excited to learn today that the awesome “Moonshiner” 1926 T roadster created by Mickey Himsl is for sale again. This time at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2017. And it’s NO RESERVE!
It was last sold for $33K at Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas 2015. In my opinion, that was a steal!
A steal because although it’s a recreation of the original. It was done by its most famous builder/owner, Mickey Himsl and is as faithful to the original as can be.
A steal simply because it’s one of the coolest looking 1926 T roadster’s that was ever built!
Here’s how it’s described in the Barrett-Jackson catalog.
The legendary “Moonshiner” was the result of a 4-year build by hot rod legend Mickey Himsl. This was a special display vehicle at the 50th Anniversary of the Grand National Roadster Show, and won 2015 Best in Class at the Grand National Roadster Show and Sacramento Autorama. Magazine cover car for Hop Up magazine and featured in hot rod historian Pat Ganahl’s book “Lost Hot Rods II: More Remarkable Stories of How They Were Found.” Himsl’s “Moonshiner” was a mainstay on the show scene in the early ’60s, including the 1959 Oakland Roadster Show and cover car on Car Craft magazine in 1960 and Rod & Custom magazine in 1963. Himsl traded the Moonshiner away in 1965 and regretted it almost immediately. He searched for his original car for many, many years, but the Moonshiner was lost to time. In 1995 Himsl decided he would bring his Moonshiner design back to life all over again. He located a new and correct touring body, and the project began. The touring body had the back removed, and was channeled and placed on a custom shortened Model A frame. The paint is a Skymist Blue with custom pinstriping done by legendary painter Art Himsl. White upholstery was done by Freddy Diaz, and the dash was welded and molded in place with correct vintage gauges installed. A period-correct Bell steering wheel was used and connects to a 1956 Ford truck steering box. The pedals are period-correct as well, from a 1939 Ford.
The 59 AB Flathead is an absolute showpiece and sitting on full display. It features an extremely rare and true Baron Tattersfield 4×2 aluminum intake manifold, Edelbrock heads, Mallory dual-point distributor, chromed water pumps, custom radiator and is topped off with four chromed 97 carburetors. The trick exhaust system is all custom-bent with chromed headers and Glaspac mufflers. The transmission is a 1939 Ford unit. The underside of this show car is just as nice as the top, with every piece paint, polished or chromed. The front suspension has a very rare Ed “Axle” Stewart dropped front axle that is fully chromed. The rear is a chromed 1940 Ford unit with 3.78 gears, and the brakes are 1940 Ford as well. The wheels are 7.50×16 tires on reversed 16″ rims on the rear and 5.60×15 on stock style 15″ rims on the front. 239 Flathead with 3-speed manual transmission.
I’m happy to be able to republish my original Moonshiner post from 2015 after seeing it at the Grand National Roadster Show. We’ll let you know what happens when it goes on the block in January. For now, enjoy the original post from April, 2015 and photos that follow:
I’ll start by saying that what I believe is the coolest 1926 T roadster ever built is for sale — and it’s a steal! But, first the story so you’ll know why.
I first saw this stubby, raked 1926 T roadster almost 55 years ago on the cover of Car Craft magazine. So, I was really blown away when I saw it in person this year at the 66th Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California where it won First Place in the Altered T Roadster class. But, that was the third time this roadster had distinguished itself at America’s premier hot rod show.
Its first appearance was at the 10th Grand National Roadster Show in 1959.
The abbreviated 1926 T roadster was built by the late Larry Selmer and according to hot rod historian, Pat Ganahl, in his “Lost Hot Rods II: More Remarkable Stories of How They Were Found” Larry borrowed much of the running gear from sprint car friends, which would account for the tiny 12-inch Kurtis midget front rims which helped give the car its radical “California rake”. Who knows what accounted for Larry sticking a 5-gallon can on the rear crossmember of the shortened Model A frame for a fuel tank?
The Selmer 1926 T roadster made a big impression in its debut at the Oakland show: notably, on the editors of Car Craft magazine.
The following year, it was featured on the cover of the June, 1960 edition of Car Craft, pictured right below such notable roadsters as the original Bob Johnston “Tweedy Pie” which gained even greater fame after it was purchased by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. Of course, the Selmer 1926 T roadster is right above the former TV Tommy Ivo T-Bucket of Bill Rolland, who had repainted it dark blue, swapped carbs for injectors and added cowl lamps. And to its immediate left and smack in the center of the cover is the very famous Big Daddy Roth Outlaw/Excalibur/Excaliber (pick a name, pick a spelling 😉 ).
Inside, was a two-page spread on Selmer’s one-of-a-kind T roadster. With only a 90-inch wheelbase the T was stunning in its appearance because I had never before seen a bobtail T without a pickup box or turtle deck. In my then 12-year-old eyes it was a mechanical marvel with its exposed high-arched rear spring and those big rig truck-inspired dual exhausts sticking straight up behind the cockpit, as Grabowski had done in his transition from “Lightnin’ Bug” to “Kookie Car”. With its triple-carbed flathead, vertical steering column and exaggerated big ‘n littles this sharp 1926 T roadster left an indelible impression on me that still strongly influences my T-Bucket tastes. Enough about me. What about Mickey Himsl?
If you’re new to the hot rod scene, you may not know that Northern California brothers, Mickey and Art Himsl, are legendary influences in the rodding world. Over the years, Mickey Himsl has owned over 20 T’s, in addition to a wide variety of other coupe, sedan and pickup hot rods. Mickey’s older brother, Art Himsl, was responsible for applying the stunning pearl white base and ribbon graphics to Andy Brizio‘s “Instant T” that took it from being the sweepstakes winner at Oakland to the 1970 America’s Most Beautiful Roadster. In its 2006 Hall of Fame profile of Art, Custom Rodder magazine said, “It’s almost difficult to find a car show photo without at least one Art Himsl paint job in the background.”
In 1969, Mickey and Art built a wild custom-bodied roadster with a transparent top covering the semi-reclining occupants on a 1937 Ford Chassis with a Ford Cobra engine. It was featured in the August issue of Rod & Custom magazine. Later that year, their appropriately named “Alien” won the coveted America’s Most Beautiful Roadster award at the Oakland Roadster Show.
1926 T Roadster Becomes Mickey’s “Moonshiner”
That way-out look of the Selmer 1926 T roadster is what stopped a young Mickey Himsl in his tracks at the 1959 show. Three years earlier, Mickey had caught the T-Bucket bug when he saw the first version of the legendary Norm Grabowski‘s T roadster at the 1956 Oakland Roadster Show (which, by the way, later became known as the Grand National Roadster Show). In 1962, Mickey would buy basically just the body and frame of that cute little 1926 T roadster from Larry Selmer. And Mickey Himsl set about making it in keeping with the times of the early 60s.
Mickey applied a striking Metalflake chartreuse and violet acrylic lacquer, while his brother Art, better known as the painter in the family, stitched up the interior.
Mickey updated the front end a bit with mag spoke wheels and Dunlop tires and the rear with American Mag wheels and M&H slicks. The exhaust was routed along the side of the body track roadster style and Mickey had the 5 gallon can fuel tank chrome plated. With some artistically coiled copper tubing attached to the tank the 1926 T roadster was then appropriately named the “Moonshiner”.
The above photo could have been after it was sold, noting chrome-reverse with whitewalls and a different looking intake.
However, this event was Mickey’s club the East Bay Rods on a trip to Lake Tahoe around 1964.
I must say that I’m partial to that purple and gold panel paint job and the bucket seats.
But don’t get the impression that Mickey Himsl built an angel-haired, trailered show car.
The little flathead powered roadster even set some track records at Northern California drag strips. Like a 12.94 e.t. at 102.85 mph at Kingdon Drag Strip near Lodi, CA.
All of which brings us back to my excited rediscovery at this year’s GNRS in Pomona.
To me, this little roadster has just as much impact today as it did when it was introduced to the hot rod world over 55 years ago. And, it looks way nicer!
Mickey Himsl had faithfully recreated his Moonshiner and that in itself was an awesome discovery.
However, I recently learned that it’s For Sale!
Read the listing for yourself:
This incredible Model T is a replica of the Moonshiner shown in the 1959 Oakland Roadster Show and later owned by Mickey Himsl in 1962. Mickey traded his car away in 1965 for a 1932 Ford Vicky and regretted it almost immediately. He searched for his original car for many, many years and kept running into dead ends and in 1995 decided to build a replica, located a Touring body and the journey began.
The Touring body had the back removed and was painted a Chevy Skymist Blue and pinstriped by Art Himsl. The upholstery was done in white vinyl by Freddy Diaz at Concord Auto Upholstery. The dash was welded and molded in place. Correct vintage gauges installed. Period correct Bell steering wheel connected to a 1956 Ford truck steering box. 1939 Ford pedals. Finally channeled 7″ and dropped on a shortened Model A frame.
The engine is a 59 AB flathead with Edelbrock heads. Fuel delivery is handled by 4 chromed 97 carburetors (2 dummies) mounted on a very rare Baron Tattlersfield 4×2 aluminum intake manifold. Ignition is handled by a Mallory dual point distributor. Chromed waterpumps, a custom radiator and electric cooling fans keep the temperature in check. The exhaust system is comprised of chromed headers, pipes and Glaspac mufflers. The transmission is a 1939 Ford unit.
The front suspension has a rare “Axle” Stewart chromed front axle. The rear is a chromed 1940 Ford unit with 3:78 gears. Rear brakes are 1940 Ford as well. Wheels are 7.50×16 tires on reversed 16″ rims on the rear and 5.60×15 on stock style 15″ rims on the front.
The car was finished in time for the 50th Anniversary Grand National Roadster Show in 1999 and then basically put in storage from 2000-2014. In 2014 Mickey decided it was time to dust off and freshen up the “Moonshiner” for the 2015 indoor show season. The car was mechanically gone through including: new coil, distributor, battery, rebuilt waterpumps and completely rebuilt rear brake system. All fluids were changed and the car received a major detailing to show quality with paint and striping touched up by Brandon Flaner from East Bay Speed and Custom.
All of the work paid off when the “Moonshiner” won first place in its class at both the 2015 Grand National Roadster show in Pomona and the Sacramento Autorama. Now, with another recreation in the works, Mickey has decided to let the “Moonshiner” go to a new home. This car runs and drives excellent with under 1,000 miles on it and couldn’t be built for near the asking price. Currently titled and registered in California. As an added bonus the car was just photographed by professional photographer Tim Sutton and will be a feature vehicle in volume 11, issue 1 of Hop Up magazine just out in April 2015.
In my opinion, if there was ever an opportunity to acquire a truly legendary T hot rod this is it. And the asking price is only $34,950! Heck, it’s got $20K of chrome alone to say nothing of its legacy and just plain overall totally unique and cool looks. If you’ve got the cash and want to own a true T treasure contact Carbuffs in Concord, CA. If you’re serious, tell Richie we sent you and you can thank him for letting us use this absolutely beautiful gallery of Moonshiner photos.
September 25, 2015 Update: SOLD, for $33K at Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas. Congratulations to the lucky owner.
January 18, 2017 Update: SOLD AGAIN, this time for $35.2K at Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas 2017. Another lucky buyer.
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11 thoughts on “1926 T Roadster, Legendary “Moonshiner” by Mickey Himsl”
That ,That was a very cool history
Just saw the little blue Moonshiner T at the 2017 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ. It had a “$32” handwritten on the sold sign on the windshield, perhaps sold for $32,000? I was stunned, because the last time I saw it I was in 1959 when a Senior in a CA high school attending the Oakland Roadster Show. I still have the high quality color snapshots I took of it back then. They’ve been over my computer for 20 years. Now there it was again, looking just as neat. Somebody got a terrific buy, and beat me to it. I didn’t know it was even at the auction.
Glad to hear you saw it in person, Ron — Again, after all these years! Yes, it sold this time for $35,200 (which includes the commission). To me, it’s an incredible investment that some lucky buyer made. By the way, if you would be so kind as to send me copies of those old photographs you took I would be happy to do an update on the Moonshiner and include them. Thanks again, John
What an awesome artical! Thank you so much or touching on the history of this great T! I have a lot of memories in this car and am sad to see it sold. My dad, Mickey seems to always be selling one and building two more.
I showed him the article today and it made his day! Thanks!
My apologies for the delayed reply, Katy. It is truly terrific to know you saw it and thought enough to share it with your Dad! I’m a big fan. By the way, a few years back in one of the magazine’s I saw a small photo of Mickey in the recreated Moonshiner with what I seem to recall as his daughter accompanying him. Was that you?
I also wanted to take this opportunity to include one more vintage photo from the car’s illustrious past.
Very cool article! The pictures are amazing.
Mickey is my uncle and I hate to see this thing go.
Whoever landed this is about to be paired with a serious treasure.
Thanks for the post!
Thanks Patrick. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the work of both of your uncles. I agree that the Moonshiner is truly a legendary T and is a real keeper. Please pass along my regards to Mickey and Art. Thanks again.
Always been in love with this car way back in the 60’s when I would see Mickey in it around Concord. It has been a standard for 50’s/60’s roadsters of the day.
Thanks Harry. It really must have been something special to see it in person on the streets back in the day. Bet plenty of heads were turned everywhere Mickey went. Whoever, ends up buying it will own a real treasure.
It was very pleasing to open my browser and read about such a legendary T. When I was much much younger I hungered to view the magazines that did the features on all such vehicles. This is what got me through puberty and into Rods. Over the years I have owned dozens. Well done and keep the news and stories coming. From an old fodder.
Thanks Bryan. There are lots more stories out there. Now, if I just get time to do them all. Anyway, it’s terrific fun and also helps me relive my past youth as well. Appreciate your support.