Not Even One-Off: 1932 Chevrolet Moonlight Pattern Prototype

Andrew TannerBy Andrew Tanner

Writing for Barn Finds is always interesting, because since we occasionally get to see unique and rare vehicles like this 1932 Chevrolet Moonlight Speedster. Although 10 of these cars were made, this isn’t even one of them! This is the wooden prototype, known as a ‘buck,’ that was used to make the mold from which the actual cars were made. Like most prototypes, this buck should’ve been destroyed. Like many prototypes, someone decided it was too cool to destroy and it became ‘barn art’ until the seller and restorer purchased it. Find this one-of-a-kind speedster here on eBay in Wisconsin with a $120,000 asking price and the option to make an offer. 

Above is a photo of the buck the way it was found; no more than the speedster rear attached to a frame and firewall. This car was produced for the Australian market and was to be built by Holden. According to the seller, “GM stole the design from their subsidiary Vauxhall in the UK from a car made called a Hurlingham Roadster.” Indeed, the resemblance is uncanny! This photo is after it was removed from the Ohio barn it spent most of the last 85 years in. Though it has been cleaned up, the wood has been left original and largely untouched to preserve the history of this car. After languishing for so long, this Speedster prototype has seen the love and appreciation it deserves.

The seller has spared no expense in restoring/creating this Chevrolet. The engine is a freshly rebuilt Chevrolet straight six with dual Edmunds Racing carburetors. Per the ad, “Radiator was re-cored and the shell was nickel plated, as well as the headlights.” The transmission has also been rebuilt. While this car was likely built with resale in mind, that probably means that no corners were cut. Sometimes when people build cars for themselves, they set a lower standard than when building a car for someone else! That is not the case here, as this Moonlight Speedster prototype is immaculate with no expense spared.

While normally this car never would have been assembled, the seller took the time to track down the correct parts in order to build this into a functional car. Painted in 1950s Porsche Ruby Red, this car really pops. This is a stunning color, and really suits the lines of this car. The red and wood really contrast, and this car will undoubtedly go on to become part of an impressive collection. To quote the seller, “This car is a remarkable piece of automotive history, and until recently no one knew it existed.” Now that we know it exists, hopefully it goes on to be appreciated for years to come!

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  1. Dan

    I don’t quite get this car. The building of the car is awesome, but the wooden buck is really just not that pretty. Maybe if it was finished off somehow?

    • DrinkinGasoline

      Dan….Google the description. It was recently featured on Hemmings. The end result was finished over as a right hand drive.

    • Metoo

      I agree. I can think of no reason not to refinish he wood. It’s not a piece of driftwood someone picked up on the beach and stuck on the mantel. Most people who see this car will say “Wow! Nice looking car. But why didn’t they finish the job?” And if the reason it was done is explained to them will say ” And, so what? ” Take a nice bunch of before and after photos, a nearly written history of the car, put it all in a binder. And make abbreviated poster boards to display with it when it is trailered to shows.

  2. DrinkinGasoline

    Re-Run ? BTW…Sandford and Son is on local channels which I’m watching now.

  3. Brakeservo

    I think the factory story is a complete crock! Someone found an old home made boat, a saw and measuring tape appeared, and voila! The car is as fabricated as it’s story. Seems to be as “genuine” as that fake Tucker convertible, also from Wisconsin!

  4. Srt8

    While it is a cool ride and very well detailed I still don’t understand the historical significance beyond the buck or jig. It was just a mock up piece wasn’t it?

  5. Gene

    I like this a lot. Should the wood be shellac or urithane or oiled?

    • Metoo

      Something, anything, other than leaving it as is.

      • Al

        Cover it with creosote?
        Naw that stinks too much, but it doesn’t rot. However, it probably causes a Haz-Mat problem. Oh well !

  6. joeinthousandoaks

    How about using the buck for what it was intended? Make an actual coach built body.

    • Dan

      Now that would be sweet!

    • whmracer99

      Agree — I don’t get the concept of using the buck as part of a car — much less part of a $120K car. It would have been cool to make a tail section off the buck and then sell the car complete with the buck as a stand-alone part. Another one of those places where rare doesn’t necessarily mean valuable.

      • Cory

        Rare like steak. As in the opposite of well done

  7. Mark S

    Fantastic car, as stated above this buck on the back needs some work. I’d start by stripping, filling, and sanding the buck down. Then I’d stain it to a nice chocolate brown followed by a layer of weave fiberglass fabric and apoxy resin. This will preserve the wood for a long time. After three coats of resin I’d then finish sand the resin and follow that with about three or four more coats of auto clear coat. Last I’d pinstripe it in gold followed by one more coat of clear. If the guy that did this build would have done this it would been even more stunning looking than it is now. All that said there is no reason the next owner can’t do the remaining work.

  8. BiggYinn

    I think the seller has lost the plot here the “buck” is a sheet metal jig or FORMER, why dis they not use it to make a sheet metal rear end this would have been mosr asthetically appealing rather than the “driftwood” look

  9. Steve65

    The buck is an interesting piece of history. The car is just a modern assembled bitsa with a piece of factory tooling repurposed as bodywork. There’s nothing “historic” about it.

    It’s cool in a “better than letting it rot” sort of way. But not $120k worth of cool.

  10. TBAU

    “…produced for the Australian market…” , “…10 of these cars were made…” it’s no wonder we don’t make cars in Australia any more. (Sadly) an unviable tiny market.

  11. Fitz61

    Talk about half assed.

  12. Cory

    This makes as much sense as finding a mold for a prototype Corvette and bolting wheels to it. Obviously the builder does not understand what a buck is for

  13. Brakeservo

    Quite a few years ago I took an ugly looking Bentley Mark VI Special Roadster and commissioned a woodworker to build a rear boat tail deck for the car. It improved the looks fabulously but in no way did I ever present it as a “long-lost factory prototype” or any such foolishness as that. I wish I would be here in another 50 years to see if some subsequent owner tries to pass it off as a one-off factory styling study or similar!!

    • Metoo

      In fifty years we will all be using our flying cars while wearing shiny silver unisex jumpsuits (woman will be wearing pointy Dagmar bra’s, of course) and we no longer care about old classic wheels on the ground cars. (Sarcasm, off)

  14. Jose Cantu

    The only thing nice I can say, is I like the color, but not for 120K.

  15. AMCFAN

    I can appreciate the “what if” build and the quality of work that went into it. It is hard to say if it would have been presented better if unrestored panels were used to create a rusty as found car. Murky is the history of why it was found in Ohio of all places after being utilized in another country. Doesn’t add up. The shipping alone would have been a big chunk of the build cost. No mistaking the look but I would grow tired very quick explaining the history and why the buck was restored into rolling art. (Because it is worth more then a pile of wood no doubt) I can appreciate the seller fishing for an offer but no need to go to the moon to do it. Nothing to see here.

  16. Mark S

    There’s nothing wrong with the concept of using the buck as a body part. This is an excellerant way to display this true automotive artifact. Secondly in my opinion there is nothing nicer looking automotive wise than a vintage boat tail where the boat back is wood. As I said above finish the wood work and maybe even cut in a rumble seat door. You have to admit that the work quality is excellent on the rest of the car which makes me wonder why everyone is being so critical of this guys vision, again I think that some of you armchair restores should give building something to this level a try then ten years or so you can come back and be a critic. Give credit it where it is due this builder found that buck came up with a plan and saw it through, it is well exicuted and well presented. Now as for the price I think it is in the stratosphere but I’m sure he’s thinking where are you ever going to find another artifact like this. There are people out there that will drop this kind of money on a painting, if I had it to spend I’d be interested and than I’d finish the job.

    • AMCFAN

      Rare or recreated rare does not always equate to value no matter how much time and money went into it. Bottom line.

      • Mark S

        That is true…! but what is also true is something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

  17. Rustytech

    The wood should have been used for its intended purpose, as a mold for stamping out a sheet metal rear section. First it would have made a better looking car, and second it could be used to build more of these fantastic cars!

  18. Mountainwoodie

    So like others I would ( just because I like shiny objects) fill, stain and varnish the buck but before then I’d arrange to make some bodies. I love the boat tailed speedster look. Its a beautiful car and what its worth is whatever someone will pay. Certainly any number of folks would pay to have a boat tailed rear to put on their Chevy in lieu of the original sheet metal. I would!

  19. michael Hopefully this link will work, it is a real photo of the real Moonlight Speedster and has absolutely nothing to do with the alleged prototype. The whole story about the prototype has been fabricated and should be listed under fiction. If the link doesn’t work there should be a photo attached.


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