Ed Roth’s Mysterion: Where is it?
My Mysterion story line last week got interrupted by that Kellison find (no, I didn’t buy it…) and I never really got into the meat of the thing following the write up by Tom. But let’s start with an article I wrote in 1996:
I’m a pretty nosey guy. I mean before I was 5 years old I was breaking into my neighbor’s houses just to see what kinda junk they had laying around. Illegal? Ok, maybe… but I was only curious!
Anyway, I was just following my intuition when a guy pulled into a local gas station with an open trailer covered with a tarp. The only visual clue that the tarp was hiding a car was a Hallibrand front runner peeking through discretely. Upon closer inspection (after my nosey ass peeked under the tarp), I noticed a suicide type coil-over front end with heavy damage, a rusty chrome chassis, and half of a rough fiberglass body. Lifting up the rear portion of the tarp revealed a rear quarter with some old white pearl paint with faded pink or red striping.
I really didn’t think anything about the car other than it obviously being a home built car of the 60’s. It wasn’t till I was back in my truck that I realized that the back rear quarter bore a striking resemblance to Ed Roth’s missing Mysterion.
I felt like I just saw Elvis. You know – kinda embarrassed to even admit to what I saw and thought. Anyway, I swallowed my inadequacies and e-mailed a buddy of The Journal’s, Jay Fitzhugh. Now Jay is always looking for some old missing car or part and he really knows his shit, so I figured if he laughed at me I would just pretend like this whole thing never happened.
Jay replied with some VERY interesting information. First, he had heard rumors that the Mysterion was known to be in Tulsa, OK (Very close to where I saw Elvis). Secondly, while Jay was doing some follow up he ran across a guy through Hemmings Motor News that had heard the same rumors and that supposedly Roth had already signed a release of ownership for the stolen vehicle. Hell, this guy even had the name of the alleged owner in Tulsa!
Jay and The Journal will continue to follow this story, but we need your help as well. If you have any information as to the where abouts of Ed Roth’s Mysterion, please contact us.
I was 19 years old when I wrote that on The Jalopy Journal. Think about that… I’m an old fart now with three kids, a mortgage payment, and all kinds of other baggage that comes with age. How in the hell did time fly so quickly?
Anyway, the reason I am bringing this up now is that rumors are starting to fly again… I’d say that the Mysterion has been found, but most of the guys involved in the rumor mill say that it was never lost – it’s just been sitting in the same backwoods shop outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma for the past fifty years. The owner, apparently, has just been uninterested to show it or let anyone know of its existence.
But lets start with the facts as I know them:
Sometime around 1965, the Mysterion was at the end of its contracted show tour and sitting at Ray Farhner’s shop in Kansas City. The car was due to be shipped back to Ed Roth, but Ed decided all he wanted back was the front and rear axles – the rest could be scrapped. So Ray torched out the axles as instructed and let the rest of the pieces fall where they may.
Afterwards, a young kid by the name of Phil Julo asked Ray if he could have the cyclops grille. Ray obliged… but a few weeks later, Doug Wright came along and bought the complete body and frame from Ray and Phil had to hand back over the grille.
Doug owned what was left of the car for a few years and stored it in his parent’s basement. Eventually, his folks got sick of stepping around the thing and told him he had to move it. With no storage, Doug parted out the car with the body and frame going to “a man that owned a body shop in Independence, Missouri.”
In my estimation, that’s it. That’s all we REALLY know about the Mysterion. All of the other stories since by different personalities and even by Roth are pretty much just noise in my mind. Noise without testament.
And so when these rumors start flying every decade or so, I take them with a grain of salt. This particular “Tulsa” storyline, however, has always sort of piqued my interest – not as an investigative journalist mind you, but as a kid that saw something once.
You know that car I saw on a trailer and under a tarp back in 1996? I’ve always had this weird feeling that was what was left of the Mysterion. I have no proof or even a shard of evidence to support that, but only a feeling. So, when the rumors point to Tulsa I always listen when I would normally ignore.
This latest round of rumor comes from a group of guys that had nothing to do with the car then and haven’t seen it now. They just know a guy. And this guy happens to be in Tulsa. And this guy is also rumored to own another long lost and VERY historically significant hot rod.
I don’t know the guy. BUT, I do know one of his hot rods and this hot rod runs an obscure intake that (as far as I know) was a one of one and belonged to that other lost hot rod he’s rumored to own. So… maybe?
Nope. Bullshit. I won’t fall for it.
If I’m 100% honest, I don’t really care all that much about the Mysterion… or any of the other radical show cars that Roth (had) built. While I respect these cars for their influence, they were never my thing. I’m not one for the opulent and prefer function over form, casual over formal, substance over fantasy…
But here’s the thing – I have a lot of good pals that have just as much passion for show cars as I do for race cars. And these guys would love nothing more to find or even see the Mysterion again. And while I have no idea where the body and frame of the Mysterion is, I do believe it’s out there… and I do believe it’s known.
I wrote that original story twenty-three years ago. A lot has happened in this world of ours since then, but nothing has happened to the Mysterion. It feels a bit irresponsible to let time and people go by while this car goes on in hiding. In my opinion, if this car is still out there – it’s past time to let folks see and enjoy it for what it is now and what it was then.
Editor’s Note: It occurred to me as I published this that Roth probably loved the mysterious fate of this car – even if he didn’t plan it to end the way that it has so far. Maybe that’s poetic in a way… and maybe that’s how a sleeping dog should lay. But like I said, I’m a substance guy in the end.