Norm Grabowski set the rodding world on fire in the early ’50s with the design and development of his Lightning Bug T-bucket (which later evolved into the legendary Kookie T), inspiring hot rodders worldwide. The T-bucket offered a radical new platform combining a compact body and chassis capable of allowing builders to infuse a maximum dose of horsepower between the ’rails. Over the decades there have been a number of inspirational T-buckets created, covering a multitude of build styles from mild to wild.

One of the most evil, known as “Sunkist,” came from Randy Bianchi in the early ’70s. Sunkist featured a radical rake with a heavily chopped windshield, hinged convertible top, deep-seated interior, and a tunnel ram–fed, dual-quad big-block Chevy spinning a pair of magnesium Halibrand wheels capped with huge Goodyear slicks. The killer combination quickly became well known while racking up the miles attending rod runs from coast to coast. This all laid the groundwork for two hot rodders to become influenced by its spell. The late Willy Donato of North Bergen, New Jersey, was so taken with Sunkist that he actually set forth to work with Bianchi in the creation of his very own fire-breathing complementary car known as “Moonkist” in 1979. The pair of cars fast became legendary on the rodding scene each with its own unique features, causing pulses to race wherever they were. The other young rodder, Rich Hoefling of Wayne, New Jersey, never forgot the first ride he received in Sunkist with Bianchi at the wheel, lighting the fire deep in his mind of what a truly badass hot rod felt like. It wasn’t till years later in 1997 when Rich and his wife, Sharon, were searching for a new project that they came across Moonkist for sale. The car had languished for some time after leaving the care of Donato, as evidenced by its poor condition, non-running engine, and need for a full restoration. Undaunted by the condition, a deal was made and the car was towed back to their home shop. After evaluating it, they contacted Bianchi to enlist his expertise in helping them restore Moonkist to its original glory, which included a few updates.