Les Moran knows how to make a hot rod look the goods!

Jordan Leist

I was busy unpacking my camera gear late one afternoon when I could hear a V8 in the distance fast approaching. It sounded tough, the note was just right. It wasn’t a modern V8, it was definitely something old school. I assumed that one of Les’ mates had arrived before him. Keen to see what was coming my way I moved to the side of the road and looked towards the sunset, low and behold, it was Les in the ’32! He rolled past me and I couldn’t tell what I liked more, the stance or the sound of the darned thing – I knew one thing though, the 5-window was all hot rod. I had never heard a flathead sound so good. Seeing and hearing the car out in the open gave me a whole new appreciation for the car. I was hooked.

The Washington Blue car is understated but to the educated hot rodder, it ticks all the boxes with a big, fat, red pen. The builder, Les Moran is a West Aussie icon and he knows a thing or two about old school styling and he has had enough cool cars to fill a magazine or two – he previously told me about an old T coupe, several ’32 Fords, a ’57 Chevy coupe and couple of Chevy pickups from the mid-50s too — and that was just the ones he cared to talk to me about. Whatever he touches; turns to gold.

His genuine, ’32 5-window coupe is the car that he has dreamed about building though. He bought it around 20 years ago from the US thanks to his good mate Squeak. It was a channelled hot rod from Riverside and it was unchopped, just what Les ordered. The chassis was sourced locally around the same period. “I bought an original chassis from another old school bloke, Eric Warren and then kept collecting parts for it over the years.” The car sat untouched until around four years ago when Les finally decided to get serious. “I was always going to build this car later in life. All the others were just practice until this point.” With all the parts already on the shelf Les got started and didn’t look back. Right from day one, he had the one vision for the ‘32 “It was always going to stay unchopped and be fully fendered and have a flathead in it. To me, that was the quintessential hot rod.”

Phil Pavicich was given the job of boxing in the rails on that original chassis and he added a Model A rear cross member – which is a requirement for when you plan to mount a Halibrand quickchange rear end. The World Class T-5 gearbox makes the longer drives much more comfortable and it a modern touch you really can’t have a go at Les for. On the underside lies transverse springs and tube shocks. Pete and Jake’s hairpins rest up front, with ladder bars out back. The 4-inch drop axle gets the front down nice and low over the skinny Michelin tyres wrapped around the black steel wheels. The rears have been widened to 8-inches and are shod with a healthy 255/70/15 BFG radials for the perfect hot rod rake. Stance wise, the car is unbeatable.

Les built the 265ci flathead himself with help from Ray Abbott and Max Gamble, and utilises a standard stroke of 3-3/4-inch but has been punched out. ”I think the shorter stroke works better for blown motors, so that’s why it doesn’t have a 4-inch crank in it,” Les said. Of course the motor wears Navarro heads, while internally the engine has been treated to Ross Racing pistons, and an Isky 400 Jr cam. The supercharger is not your usual set up either. Most hot rodders will go for an S.C.o.T. blower and some 97 Strombergs, but Les went for a different approach – finding a Camden blower kit at the LA Roadster Show swap meet. It’s blessed with a 500cfm Edelbrock carb and combined with a set of pipes that exit just in front of the rear tyres and couple of glasspacks, it doesn’t sound like any flathead you’ve ever heard – hence why I was so confused when he rolled down the street towards me. It was a pleasant surprise. Flathead owners take note – Les has a hot tip for you – he chooses to use mild steel for his exhausts rather than the expensive stainless stuff. He reckons the stainless makes the car sound tinny – the mild steel toughens it up.

Besides the motor, the next wildest part of the car is the cabin. The Jetstream Cool Blue covering looks shit hot. The pearl finish creates a unique look in the interior – the simple gauge cluster and basic steering wheel make things a little more contemporary though.

Les swears black and blue that this one is staying in his collection and is with him for good. It seems like a pretty good decision to us.