The Moal-Built “Aerosport” is a Symphony of Metal
by Zack Klapman
This is one of the most incredible cars I’ve ever seen. It’s the “Aerosport”, a creation by legendary coach-builder Steve Moal, based on a 1936 Ford. Steve started life by taking over his father’s collision repair shop, but in the late 90s he decided to leap to custom coach-work. We’re glad he did.
The picture above should be an example of why this car blew my mind when it came on screen. The concept. The detailed execution. The metal that is clearly hand-formed (as are many of the exterior panels). But what struck about this car is the comprehensive execution of…something. Inside and out, it all fits, all works together, like so many instruments creating a complete philharmonic. It’s rare that every angle is striking, but also build off of each other to elevate the entire car into something higher than the sum of its parts.
The reason for that sort of metallic brilliance is the way Steve begins.
“”Before I think about the car itself,” he says, “I imagine the guy who would build it and what kind of car that guy would want to have.”
His idea for this car was a WWII pilot, returning home after the war. This pilot would enjoy speed and cars, but has spent his life flying planes. He can’t fly a P-51 Mustang around town, so he builds a car that gives him a similar feeling, inside and out.
To make that happen, Steve sourced a lot of the interior from a nearby aviation salvage yard. The switches, levers, gauges, wheel; if you blind-folded someone and put them in this, they’d probably think you’d put them inside a vintage plane. The gull-wing doors are opened with big, wooden handles that look like they came off an old butcher’s knife. Close them, and you are in a cockpit that just happens to be bolted to a car. The term “center stack” doesn’t do this justice.
The outside is a simpler affair, but was no less work, because all the panels are hand-formed aluminum. The people at Moal Coachbuilders are masters of the English wheel, hand-rolling parts of the canopy, fender, trunk, and the bolt-on “tail”, should you need to smack people’s eyes with “this is like an airplane.”
To me the canopy up-stages the lower half, the top clearly one-of-a-kind, with the bottom looking like a, well, ’36 Ford. But you climb in this car, close the hatch, fire up the twin-supercharged 312 ci. Ford (out of a 1955 Thunderbird), and it motors along like a far-off thunderstorm. Driving this car 1,000 miles would be dangerous, because I’d spend the whole time staring at the gauges, levers and switches. That’s why I should probably never drive it, because Steve’s cars cost between $250,000 and $1M to make. If you buy a car from him, make sure you get reliable classic car insurance. I’m guessing the result of distracted driving would result in tears, bullets, and blood. In fact, I would get two policies: one for the car, and one to console Steve and put him through therapy, after saying, “Remember those fenders you made me? I need two more.”
The second I saw this car, I hit “record” on my DVR. I called Thad over to look at it, to watch Steve work a panel of aluminum, and find out what the hell this thing was. Cars like this, and builders like Steve, don’t get the press of Aventadors that look like Flava Flav’s mouth or a Chevy Sonic banging into piano’s. Cars like this are the un-sung magic that is custom cars. This isn’t a bolt-on turbo kit, or a body kit. This is men in a shop, banging metal until it’s smoother than butter, and creating a car that- I think- truly captures the idea of a WWII fighter pilot.
For more pictures of this car, click here.