20-21 January 2011


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Lot 295

1923 "Tweedy Pie" Show Roadster

  • Chassis no. T7426996

Sold for $176,000

283 cu. in. Chevrolet V-8 engine with six Stromberg 97 two-barrel carburetors, 1951 Ford truck three-speed manual transmission, 1948 Ford solid front axle with transverse leaf spring, 1948 Ford truck rear-axle assembly, and 1948 Ford truck hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 84"

- First built by Bob Johnston, updated by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth
- An early, show-winning and trendsetting “T-bucket”
- Immortalized in over 11 million scale-model kits
- Restored to its Ed Roth circa-1962 configuration

When Ed Roth returned to Southern California in 1955 after service in the U.S. Air Force, the hot-rodding boom was now in full swing. His first show car, “Little Jewel,” was quickly succeeded by the more radical “Outlaw” T-bucket in 1956, which set the tone for many of Roth’s future projects and greatly influenced hot-rod design. One of Roth’s contemporaries, Bob Johnston, seized upon the outrageous T-bucket concept even earlier, creating the basis of this car, ultimately known as “Tweedy Pie.”

Johnston’s initial build spanned 1954 and 1956. The body was widened three inches and channeled four inches over bobbed Deuce frame rails. A built flathead V-8 provided power. Johnston, a local aircraft instrument mechanic, fitted the car with remarkably complete instrumentation. Once the metalwork was complete, over 40 coats of lacquer were applied in Bob’s garage by his nephew Dick, with the custom-mixed purple hue inspired by the packaging of Union 76 Royal Triton motor oil. In 1958, Ed Roth added his signature pinstriping.

The flathead gave way to a ’57 Corvette-spec 283 with a single four-barrel carburetor prior to September 1959, when the T-Roadster was named "Best Roadster" at the first and only “Disneyland Car Club Day and Autocade” in Anaheim, California. In December that year, it was the Rodding and Restyling cover car. The producers of the TV series 77 Sunset Strip had originally wanted to use Bob’s car, and a contract was even signed, but Bob ultimately could not allow anyone else to drive his beloved creation, paving the way for Norm Grabowski’s ’25 T-roadster to gain national fame.

Keeping his car on the leading edge, Bob added a polished Offenhauser intake manifold and six Stromberg carbs to the Corvette V-8 and chromed the rear-axle center section. In 1962, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth purchased the car for $1,150 and added quad headlights, chrome-reverse wheels and “baby moon” hubcaps. Contrary to popular belief, Bob, not “Big Daddy,” added the rear nerf-bar bumper. Once updated by Roth, “Tweedy Pie” hit the cover of the March 1962 edition of Rod & Custom and gained massive fame in Revell 1:25 scale model kit form, selling 3.5 million copies in its first year and over 11 million to date!

A couple of years later, “Big Daddy” sold “Tweedy Pie” to Chris Lovoy, who added some modifications, including a pair of rear fenders. Later, the iconic T-roadster was acquired by Larry Tarantolo of Custer Park, Illinois, who returned the car to its present Roth-era configuration. The enduring influence of “Tweedy Pie” remains profound today, nearly 50 years after Ed Roth acquired and modified it. Its longevity on the show circuit and in the public consciousness remains a testament to its inspired creator, Bob Johnston. As offered, “Tweedy Pie” remains both a groundbreaking show rod and a wonderful survivor from that unique period during the 1950s and early 1960s, when unbridled automotive creativity reached critical mass in Southern California.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

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Jonathan Sierakowski

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Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

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Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more