Just the Facts
Owner: Steve Moal
Though he lists his occupation as "car builder," over the years Steve Moal has become something much more. A third-generation fabricator, Steve has taken what he learned from his grandfather and father and, during the 1990s, shifted his Oakland, California-based business away from doing accident repair work for high-end Mercedes and the like to concentrate on building one-off vehicles for his hot rod clientele.
E. (Enrico) Nardi was an Italian race car driver and designer in the '40s and '50s. The co
Northern California's Bay Area has long been a hot bed for customs and hot rods alike, and Steve has been in the midst of it from his earliest days. Though an early member of the Danville Dukes as well as the Bay Area Roadsters, Steve's interest in cars has never been limited to just hot rods. A self-educated student of automobile art and design, he also knows his way around exotic European race cars from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, as well as their high-brow coachbuilt counterparts.
Coachbuilding has its roots in the horse and buggy days, when well-to-dos had coaches custom built to their specifications—the same thing Steve does nowadays except he works in aluminum and steel. His business has built one-off, award-winning vehicles (including "Seduced," the 2005 winner of the America's Most Beautiful Roadster award for Paul and Erik Hanson) for a handful of devoted customers (such as Gary Meadors and George Poteet), as well as a couple for comedian TV/movie star Tim Allen. In conjunction with building cars, Steve's business has also expanded into selling an exclusive line of chassis and body parts they designed in-house.
But occasionally Steve will build something for himself and, when he had the chance to purchase a Ford three-window from a friend 20 years ago, he took it. Perhaps because of his deep connection to vintage euro racers, performance has always played as big a part in the cars he builds, as does superior design. A couple of years ago Steve worked out the design for an Indy-inspired torsion bar suspension system to work with a 1932 Ford chassis, which Moal's sells as their T-Bar chassis. It combines the classic vintage look of an I-beam and hairpin-based suspension with a well-hidden torsion bar system for both the front and rear.
Opting for a smooth '32 roadster dash instead of the stock three-window version, the gauge
The Moal T-Bar chassis is where Steve started his current three-window build, and it uses 1-1/2-inch round tubing for its X-member and additional crossmembers. Out back a Ford 9-inch (3.70:1) with Currie axles was used along with a pair of QA1 shocks. An I-beam axle, chromed hairpins, Super Bell spindles, and another set of QA1 shocks make up the front suspension. Wilwood disc brakes are found on each corner, and are controlled via an overhead (hanging down from behind the dash) pedal assembly of Steve's design. Steering is handled by a Saginaw 525 box and an ididit column.
Rollers are five-lug Poteet magnesium pin-drives, 15x5 in the front and 16x6.5 in the rear, wrapped in BFGoodrich rubber (155/80-15 and 245/75-16). Power for the ride comes from a Ford Motorsports 351W V-8, which is backed to a TREMEC five-speed transmission. Painted red, the engine is equipped with a SPAL fan and Walker radiator to keep things cool, and the 4-bbl Edelbrock carb is topped with an aluminum air cleaner designed by David Moal (who, along with brother, Michael, make up the fourth generation of Moals working at the shop).
For the exterior, only a few items needed to be addressed as far as Steve was concerned, including a 2-1/2-inch chop, which was performed by Jimmy Kilroy at Steve's shop. Moal's also made the aluminum hood (with a piano-style hinge down the middle) as well as a unique set of aluminum fenders (also fab'd by Kilroy). Steve believes a hot rod just isn't finished unless it has fenders, though he's quick to point out he owns some fenderless rods.
The aluminum fenders showcase the shop’s fabrication skills and, with their "hump" through
But since he decided this car would have fenders, he thought using a design that might have been found on an old Bugatti or Alfa would suit his tastes. Those fenders don't come straight out of the body like a stock 1932 fender, but rather they go up before they come down, creating some more space for wheel clearance. And since aluminum is the first choice of material when the shop makes something, he decided they should be aluminum. But painting them the same color as the rest of the car didn't sit well with his boys who thought, "Why not show a little bit of what the shop can do and keep them raw?" Steve liked the idea, and decided they should at least be polished for a more custom look.
A handful of other items Moal's offers, including a scoop for the cowl vent and covers for the hairpin's ends, as well as a custom front apron cover, made their way onto the vehicle before it was rolled into the on-site paint booth where it was covered with a PPG Moal Metallic Blue. What little chrome there is on the car was capably handled by Sherm's Custom Plating in Sacramento.
Inside the car a 1932 roadster-type dash replaced the original three-window design, and a brass gauge panel, designed by David, plays host to six Moal gauges assembled by Classic Instruments. A classic Nardi three-spoke steering wheel was wrapped in black leather by Ken Nemanic of Vintage Automotive Upholstery in Walnut Creek. Nemanic has worked on many Moal creations, and he covered the 1932 bench seat in a classic pleated design with soft saddle-colored hides.
Though many of his customers are content with housing their vehicles in museum-like settings, Steve likes to drive his rides (he's been a participant in several of the Goodguys' cross-country cruises) and will do so whenever his busy schedule allows. But rest assured, this will not be the last ride to roll out of Moal Coachbuilders and, with David and Michael at his side, we'll be seeing more Moal-built cars for years to come.