The bucket seats in Michael's...
The bucket seats in Michael's modified were the first ones made (but not used) in the California Special Steve Moal built back in 1997. Tom Sewell in Cambria, CA, did the upholstery, which included adding the pleated leather to the seats and the black leather to the door panels.
Though many have been able to pass the hot rod torch onto their children, it is quite rare when the torch has been passed through four generations. But such is the case with Michael Moal, son of Steve, grandson of George, great-grandson of William.
It was William Moal, a wheelwright who got things going back in 1911 building coachbuilt cars. Through the '20s and '30s William created custom bodies for customers in the San Francisco Bay Area. George followed in his footsteps and became a bodyman, when he wasn't out racing wooden race boats or whittling something fantastic out of wood.
When George's son, Steve, was old enough the pair became partners in an Oakland-based bodyshop, which is where Steve's sons, Michael and David, learned the craft from the earliest age.
Steve Moal's name should be well known to hot rodders as he has created some memorable vehicles, both for himself as well as others (including Gary Meadors and TV/movie star Tim Allen).
Starting out at the shop by sweeping up after school, Michael learned over the years from the best people Steve could hire, including the very talented Jimmy Kilroy.
The dash is custom, and is...
The dash is custom, and is filled with Moal Bomber series gauges. The four-spoke steering wheel is a Schroeder 14-incher and bolts to a LimeWorks column.
Once old enough to drive, Michael's interest in cars was wide-based, and he liked everything from Autocross racing to vintage Shelby Mustangs. In the late '90s, as his father slowly got out of body and fender work to concentrate solely on building hot rods for customers and creating a line of chassis and suspension pieces, Michael's interest in that particular type of car piqued.
By the beginning of this decade, Michael began designing a car in his head-something with a racing flavor but with a traditional feel. Influenced by the Hilborn-Warth streamliner, Phil Remington's dry lakes racer, Barney Navarro's iconic track-nosed Model T roadster, and after talking it over with his dad, Michael finally figured out what he really wanted: a traditional-looking 1929 Ford Modified.
It sits right because it's...
It sits right because it's on a Moal chassis. The PPG white paintjob was done in-house at Moal's by Mike Faccini and Al Aguyao, and Faccini then added the black scallops off the nose. One-name Rory followed with a subtle pinstripe to finish off the paintjob.
By the end of 2003, Michael had a Brookville Roadster pickup body in the shop, but it would take a few years for it to finally become a full-fledged project worthy of spending all hours and any extra money on it. But as an added benefit, through the years Michael was absorbing what was happening in the shop and figuring out how to apply it to his ride. When most people mention "table scraps," they think of what's left on the dinner plate that goes to the family dog. But when you're a Moal, it's whatever parts and pieces that were left over from different projects that are taking up space at the shop when they really could be used in a project. So Michael began gathering parts, and soon it was time to put everything together.
By February 2006, a chassis began to go together in the shop's chassis jig using 2x6 boxed 'rails and a custom suspension system. Steve Moal has not only made a name for himself with the high quality of workmanship that comes from his shop, but the cars also work really well, too, and their unique suspension is why.
Michael's ride uses a torsion bar setup, with the front suspension using an I-beam axle and a pair of chromoly arms that run between a mount on the batwings to a pair of torsion bars mounted lengthwise between the framerails. The rest of the suspension looks like a "regular" hot rod with hairpins and covered shocks (though these are Strange-built double-adjustable units with Moal covers).
Wilwood four-piston calipers work to clinch 12-inch rotors up front, while another pair of 12-inchers work a similar setup out back. Another set of torsion bars are found in the rear, too, but mount transversely and forward of the Halibrand V-8 quick-change rearend, which has one-off mounts welded to the axle tubes for the triangulated four-link suspension bars.
A '65 Chevy 327 was gone through...
A '65 Chevy 327 was gone through and assembled by Dan Brewer in Torrance, CA. A polished and balanced crank works with stock-size rods, 0.040 over pistons, and a COMP Cams camshaft. Up front a FlowKooler water pump was used as well as a three-pass Mattson's radiator. Electronics include a Powermaster alternator and an MSD ignition system running through Taylor wires. Exhaust exits out a set of Corvette manifolds and a custom exhaust system made from stainless steel by Moal's. A four-speed Muncie transmission with a Hurst shifter is used for gear selection.
With a mind guided by sports car performance, Michael used a NASCAR 12:1 power steering box modified and blueprinted by Tommy Lee to help with the steering, and it connects to a LimeWorks column. Rollers come in the way of Vintiques wires, 15x6 and 16x8, which have been shod with Goodyear Eagle GT II 195/60-15 and 285/60-16 rubber.
Now all that the roller needed was a motor, and one was found in the form of a '65 Chevy 327. Dan Brewer, out of Torrance, California, went through the engine for Michael, reassembling the polished and balanced crank with stock rods and oversize (0.040) pistons along with a COMP Cams camshaft and stock iron heads. Up top a trio of Holley carbs mounted to an Offenhauser manifold feed the small-block, and exhaust exits out a pair of Corvette iron manifolds. The V-8 bolts to a Muncie four-speed transmission, which is guided by a floor-mounted Hurst shifter.
Once complete with engine, the chassis could now receive the body, but "stock" really isn't in the Moal vocabulary. A custom three-piece aluminum hood was also fabbed up (with three rows of louvers added to each hood side), and the most striking addition to the car-the track nose-was soon created at Moal's in November 2007. Michael wanted a vintage '40s look to the nose, so this one was made with a little more vertical profile (very similar to the one found on the old Barney Navarro dry lakes racer) than what you'd find on a contemporary roadster.
By January 2008, Michael was ready to gain a little extra room in the cockpit so the rear section of the roadster pickup cab was extended a few inches. The next big custom piece was the trunk, which would sit over the rear end. Made from aluminum and riveted together, the trunk actually conceals a bladder-type fuel cell that takes up roughly half the trunk's space. And with the chopping of the windshield posts and the addition of the cowl vent and scoop, the body was ready to roll into the spray booth at Moal's at the end of December 2009. Moal's Mike Faccini and Al Aguyao used PPG paint to coat the car in white, after which Michael laid out a scallop job in contrasting black. After Rory came by to 'stripe the pickup, the exterior was pretty well done.
The interior was next, and Michael thought something simple would work well but simple is a lot harder to do correctly than it looks. Michael started with a new, larger dash made from aluminum, added a glovebox and door, then in the first week of January 2010, filled the dash with a set of Moal Bomber gauges. The steering wheel is a Schroeder four-spoke, 14-inch midget wheel, which has a black anodized aluminum horn button that looks like a mini crash pad, and mounts to a LimeWorks column.
Another advantage to Michael was when it came time for some seats. He wanted bomber-style buckets, and it just so happened that the first pair of seats Moal's made for the California Special back in 1997 weren't used in the car, so he claimed them before sending them to Tom Sewell to have him cover them in pleated red leather. The door panels are aluminum, but they're covered in black leather by Sewell. Down below black and gray carpet was laid out.
By January 26, the car was off its jackstands and getting prepped for its first public showing: the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona, California. From a rather slow start over a period of years to a mad dash for the last six months, Michael now has first-hand experience in what it takes to get a car finished and ready for its first show.
In the time it took him to start and finish his first traditional rod he not only had a son (Rex, his first) but now he's old enough to be enrolled in school. Rex has already shown an interest in the shiny, glossy vehicles down at the shop, so here's hoping the Moal legacy will be carried on well into the 21st century!
A drilled I-beam axle from...
A drilled I-beam axle from Magnum hides the two arms that connect to the torsion bars, which run lengthwise just inside the framerails. A 12:1 NASCAR power steering box from Tommy Lee makes turning the vehicle a breeze.
Dialed in on a 104-inch wheelbase,...
Dialed in on a 104-inch wheelbase, the frame started with two 2x6 boxed rails. This triangulated four-link system is a unique Moal design. Dual torsion bars run just forward of the Halibrand V-8 quick-change, and double-adjustable aluminum shock from Strange Engineering (with Moal covers) are used.
Another major piece fabricated...
Another major piece fabricated at Moal's was the hand-formed, riveted aluminum trunk that hides a Fuel Safe fuel cell racing bladder inside.