Clay’s Bel Air is all business with a cranked down stance and plenty of horsepower to back
Sometimes it’s easy to see the writing on the wall regarding where destiny will take you. It’s called fate and for Clay Moorman of Elkton, Maryland, it was obvious that he’d eventually find his way into the world of hot rodding, starting way back on his parents’ farm in Roanoke, Virginia. When most kids were still learning how to ride a bike, Clay moved to the head of the class perched atop his dad’s lap while tending to the fields and operating cut-down Ford Model A’s serving as farm equipment. It was easy to see that learning to drive the doodlebugs fueled the fire for his automotive interests. There were also daily journeys taken while sitting on an old log shifting a left-for-dead transmission through the gears as well as cobbling together countless buggies from discarded wood and wheels to race down the meadows at the farm. As the years passed, Clay maintained his enthusiasm for horsepower, getting his fix while watching an endless array of cars light up the quarter-mile at Cecil County Dragway in North East, Maryland. At the same time, there was also plenty of cruising on the local ’strip in big-inch Chryslers with his friends. After raising a family, he decided to finally step into the rodding world and live out his dreams. Having always had a fascination with Tri-Five Chevys, he started to look for one with all the right elements. Sometimes the best cars are found through personal contacts and this time it was old pal, Rodney Manuel, who turned Clay onto a wicked ’55 offered by a local collector. The car had some race history and a neat attitude so a deal was made with Clay taking the keys and driving it for a few years.
A decadent coating of PPG Red Tint brings the car to life while Colorado Customs Alcatraz
Feeling that the Bel Air needed some freshening up, Clay had a meeting with Larry Stewart, owner of One-Off Rod & Custom in Middletown, Delaware. Initially, the plan was to give the car a coat of fresh paint and make some minor updates, however the more the pair discussed their ideas it was obvious that a full reincarnation was about to take place. With Stewart’s talents running deep in custom metal fabrication and attention to detail, the more he looked at the project, the more subtle design elements began to infuse their way into the mix. After the decision was made to start with a full teardown, Stewart and his team first focused on building a rock-solid base to anchor everything with plenty of attitude. Using the original spine, it was blasted clean, smoothed, and molded, and treated to a number of suspension upgrades to give it a great rake. Starting up front, a ’70 Nova IFS was added, accented by a pair of RideTech ShockWaves while out back a RideTech triangulated four-link and ShockWaves support a Ford 9-inch rear filled with 3.55:1 cogs. To add plenty of grip and glamour, a set of 17-inch Colorado Customs Alcatraz wheels capped with Hoosier rubber sets the stance while a Corvette power master pushes fluid through a combination of Nova discs up front and Explorer discs out back to bring everything to a halt. Remembering the adrenalin rush he experienced at the dragstrip as a youngster, Clay wanted plenty of gusto nailed to the ’rails when it came time for a fresh V-8. He contacted longtime friend Bob McMillan of RM Motorsports in Middletown, Delaware, to build a vicious fire-breather starting with a 350ci Chevy base. Bob massaged the block to perfection and filled it with an Eagle crank and matching H-beam rods linked to SRP 10:1 slugs. A COMP Cams stick sets the thump while AFR 195cc aluminum heads meld with an Edelbrock RPM intake topped with a Demon 750-cfm carb to suck in plenty of air. Spent gases get dumped through a stainless exhaust while a custom designed air cleaner and valve covers by Stewart bring an exotic edge to the party. Transferring the power to the pavement, a tweaked GM 700-R4 trans from Deltrans of Newark, Delaware, provides neck-snapping acceleration through a custom driveshaft.