It's loud. The neighbor stuck her head over the fence and called out,"Let's hear it, then." Mike Moore shrugged and grinned, "The neighborsare used to me." He tipped the throttle a couple of times to oblige andreached to an overhead console like an airline pilot flipping switches.The Flowmasters roared for a moment, then the small-block settled into anervous idle as a crowd of regulars gathered. It was Saturday afternoonand we were heading from his neighborhood in Torrance, California, toHot Rod Performance in Gardena to meet the rest of the guys from Mike'sset. They're going to laugh when they read this, as they do when youmiss a shift at the dragstrip and they're all there to see it. Or whenMike's Powerglide was new and he couldn't find Reverse. They're waitingfor that mistake like good friends always do.
On the way, we were belted to fiberglass passenger seats and hanging onto the rollbar where the back seat used to be. "That thing had a mind ofits own," Mike explained later. "It would open and close on the track soI had to take it out." We could have used it when Mike opened it up andleft a ribbon of stripes between the right two lanes. The Wagon runs10.30s on the motor at 131 mph. If you don't know what that's like, trya backflip off a high-dive with your eyes closed. After the front endjumps up, that sensation lasts until the throttle is lifted.
Mike's adrenaline progression is surfing, skating, hot rods, race cars,and rocket ships, to use his words. So this car started as the ultimatesurf cruiser. "When the big skate thing was going on in the late '70s, Iworked at [Dewey] Weber surfboards and hung out at the shop. I grew upin that environment. Back then, we would hear about an empty pool andwe'd go. The Z-boys were there and the other skaters. There were skateparks but the pools were illegal and had no rules so it was fun. When Isaw that movie Dogtown and Z-Boys it was a huge flashback. You take alittle part of the culture when you come from the beach, that's who youare and where you're from. Hanging out at the shop with this car is nodifferent."
Slowly, the '65 turned from fast street car to race car. Mike is hooked."At first you're just a casual user. I tell myself that I don't have todo this, I can quit anytime."
Then Mike's brother opened a race-engine shop and applied peer pressure."I lost the first motor then dropped in a crate that stayed in there foralmost a month before I sold it and built a 383. I went 12.85 at 105 andthat's when it [racing] started." The 425ci Chevy that currently powersthe car is more race than street, but it is seen once in a whilecruising the area at night. "This car is just a progression of heads andcamshafts, then after that came bigger motors. It's the naturalprogression of my insanity."
Mike will be running in the PCSA series with his buddies from Hot RodPerformance this spring. If you see him, stop by and say hello, maybehe'll let you see his vintage skateboard deck.
What: '65 Chevy Chevelle wagon
Owner: Mike Moore, whose garage holds skate, surf, and go-fastrelics.
Hometown: Torrance, California, and surrounding burbs were thespawning pools of the skate, surf, and street racer movements in the'50, '60s and '70s. Mike was there.
Techs: The key engine guys are Mark Millhollin at Hot RodPerformance and Rudy Resch. They did the math and Mike bolted it up.
Engine: Mike found a seasoned Bow-Tie iron block that accepted a4.18 bore, a 3.875-inch Cola crank, and 6-inch Oliver rods for 425 ci.
Heads: The Edelbrock 18-degree Chapman CNC heads make seriouspower off the shelf, but at the expense of a custom valvetrain includingIsky 0.050-inch-offset roller lifters.
Headers: Oops, the standard headers won't fit the 18-degree headseither. A custom set of 211/42s were created by Doug Hornburg in RedondoBeach.
Intake: Again, 18-degree stuff means a special intake manifold tomatch the raised intake ports, but you can buy cast manifolds, andthis one's a Brodix.
Carburetion: Mike's running an 1,150 Dominator from The CarbShop. Even with 15.0:1 compression and a huge Racer's Mystery cam, itdidn't bog or sputter.
Ignition: There is a Shogun generator instead of an alternator torun the MSD 6AL and electric water pump, but Mike says he's had noproblems on the street using an Optima battery. But this isn't acommuter car or anything.
Transmission: It had a TH400 but the steep First gear wouldsometimes shock the tires loose off the transbrake. He's hoping his newPowerglide will allow 6-grand 'brake launches and less airtime.
Suspension: A wheels-up 60-foot of 1.35-1.37 on 9-inch tires isthe norm with a good track. Mike runs Koni 90/10 adjustables withtubular upper control arms and small-block Chevelle springs in front,and stock station wagon springs in the back with inflatable airbagsinside them. Hotchkis boxed arms hold up a Ford 9-inch and 4.56:1 gears.
Body: The paint is original teal with a 99-Cent-Store refresh.Mike keeps finding beach sand in the back where the bench used to be.And one time a grinder tried to eat the rocker panel. That explains theblack stripe of paint on the driver side. He can't explain the blackheadlight bezels though.
Performance: On race day it weighs 3,390 pounds and his best e.t.is 10.30 at 131, no nitrous.