Sunday, July 21, 2024


After investing almost 2,000 hours into this Chevy coupe, first time rodder Darian Morano is enjoying his time in the sun…

Every story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. For Darian Morano, his story began with an early Falcon hardtop, the most desirable of the first Australian Fords. The middle saw him invest countless hours and dollars into a complete rebuild. Sadly however, that story had no end, or at least not the one Darian was planning. 

“I started building an XP coupe. I got 3/4 of the way through it, all the body work was done, I put in new quarters, new floor and new roof. I got sick of it being in the garage as I got to the stage where I couldn’t afford to do it anymore, so I sold it and then regretted it. My dad had an XY GTHO which was in the family for over 30 years but he sold it about 6 years ago, so I thought it was time we had another car in the family. I went to the Lake Mulwala Rod Run in 2015 and I saw a 1934 Chevy which I liked, and I wanted to do something different.”

Unless you’re a hardened Ford fan, there’s not too much to dislike about ‘33/’34 Chevys. The broad grille, body mouldings and sweeping rear fenders were all features that Darian admired. Who knows, maybe if Chevrolet had continued to develop the V8 engine which it offered in 1917 and 1918, the history of hot rodding may have panned out a little differently.

Realising the time and expense it would take to even find a steel coupe body, let alone repair one, Darian looked to premium fibreglass body manufacturer, FibreChev in Wangaratta. Like the name suggests, FibreChev specialise in fibreglass Chevy bodies, specifically of 1934 vintage. Three body styles make up the range, a pickup, a cabriolet and the desired coupe, so it was a match made in heaven. Darian placed an order for a three window coupe and soon after, had the makings of a hot rod in his possession.

“I remember the night I brought the shell home, it was just sitting on the garage floor and I thought to myself, where the hell do I start!” he admits. 

Having purchased a set of rails and a crossmember from Peter King at Lewis Chassis, Darian sought out the assistance of an experienced hot rodder and mate, Mick Bakker. Together they set up the chassis with an HR front end and E-type Jag rear suspension. Darian informs that the E-type rear has the advantage of a narrower track than the more commonly used XJ6 and XJ12.

The pitfalls of car building are never far away and with the purchase of a second hand 350 Chev with a tunnel ram, Darian soon realised this motor was well past its last bore, thanks to cracks in the block. Retaining the one salvation from the purchase, the cool looking tunnel ram, Darian tracked down a 400 small block that had been laying idle for 20 years. His brother Nathan turned his hand to rebuilding the bottom end of the 6.6 litre before Darian finished off the rest and bolted on the towering intake and twin 465 Holley carbs. An Aussie Desert Cooler radiator was assigned the task of keeping it cool.

It’s easy to overlook things when you’re consumed with such a huge project, so an extra pair of eyeballs from time to time can be a huge bonus. 

“I remember when I finished the chassis with all the crossmembers welded in to place, my brother was over and he said to me, ‘Where’s your exhaust going to go?’ I thought, ‘Oh shit, I’ve forgotten about the exhaust!’ So I had to cut out all the crossmembers again and redesign it so the exhaust could fit through!” Darian laughs, now.

Darian has his own machining equipment at home and created many of the unique parts utilised on the rod including his own tie rod ends, running board brackets, tail light housings and even his own dash knobs. In fact he’s been responsible for 99% of the build, including the paint, engaging his trade skills as a spray painter to apply multiple layers of DeBeer clear over base Turismo Blue from the CV8 Holden Monaro. Darian modified the mixture of pearl for his own unique twist.

“I remember after the body got painted, I put it back onto the chassis, stood back and it just looked killer! That day was one of the happiest days of the build. Same as when we started the engine for the first time.”

The interior has been designed and constructed in-house by Darian and his partner, Leanne before they engaged Tylden Trim in Gisborn to install the cross stitched black vinyl with blue stitching. The pattern continues down through the door trims and rearward up onto a panel behind the seats, which also houses vents for the air conditioning. A modest amount of chrome and polish is used in the cabin, a theme continued with the family of Speedhut gauges that snake their way across the painted dash. Bluewire Automotive came up with a wiring loom which Darian installed himself.

Darian reckons he worked on the coupe every night and weekend for two years straight, clocking up more than 1,900 hours. During that time, he’s also converted his partner, Leanne into a hot rod fan.

“I’ve really gotten in to the cars since Darian’s built this one,” Leanne reveals. “I loved helping him in the garage, coming up with ideas and watching it all come together.”

“I love just going out to the garage and just sitting and staring at it, remembering all the work I put into it,” Darian adds.

Future plans are brewing for another go at an XP coupe, an XY tribute car for his dad or, if Leanne leans hard enough, another Chevy hot rod, but for now, Darian sends a sincere thank you to Mick Bakker, his brother Nathan, partner Leanne and good mate, Chris Barby for all his tuning work.


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