Do you base an ASRF Legend award for Bob Moule on his radical custom FJ Holden ‘Bobcat’, or his untiring effort into hot rodding administration both locally and nationally? As often happens, one links into the other.
We will concentrate on his admin role, a role that was far from his mind when he set out to build the Holden two door custom from his old FX street car. He in fact set out to build a sports car. In 1964 the Holden was cut in half, a slice taken out where the back door sat and the two halves were joined back together. He sectioned the doors 7 inches at the front and 9 inches at the rear to get the car low, pancaked the bonnet and lowered the firewall to suit. He was young and invincible and the new product called ‘bog’ allowed him to bypass welding and panel beating talent, yet still utilise his very fertile mind.
In 1966 the first South Australian Hot Rod Show was being put together by the SA Rod & Custom club. Bob, who at this point was building nothing more than a special, was asked by Warren Young if he would display Bobcat. He did, even though it was unfinished. He needed another 12 months to complete the mammoth but stunning project.
That first hot rod show was Bob’s introduction to hot rodding and he could quickly see that there were other guys out there who had similar thoughts to his. He joined the SA Rod & Custom Club in 1967 and didn’t take long to get involved administratively. He became President in 1968 of what was then a very large club of around 100 members. He remained President until June 1979. He was again club President in 1983 and stepped down in 1985.
These were very formulative years for the street rod hobby at both a club, State and Federal level. Bob was active in all those areas. The hobby needed a strong leader and was fortunate enough to have found such a person. At a club level, the SA Rod & Custom club boomed under Bob’s direction with well set up club rules, a neat dress code, sorting out the social members from the real enthusiasts, building the club truck and getting the club their first dedicated club rooms.
The club was renowned for the work it put into other events as well; a Barmera campout, movie nights at the Wayville Institute, the club magazine, Bob’s ever present leadership and the club’s strong visual presence at rod runs, including the very first street rod nationals.
“It was all to do with lifting the quality and image of hot rodding,” Bob stated.
Bob represented South Australia at the first major Australian Hot Rod Federation (AHRF) conference at Ashfield in 1969. He went on to be the South Australian representative for the hot rod side of the AHRF until the split in 1973, and then took on the role of State Director for the ASRF until 1983. He had a goal. He had very definite ideas on rodding and in particular, the show scene where Bob was well versed in how this side of the hobby worked, having displayed ‘Bobcat’ successfully in a number of shows around Australia. He was all for a National Hot Rod Show, upgrading local shows and getting better recognition for the winners.
“Those early years were pretty demanding,” remembers Bob. “But a lot of good things were happening. Thoughts and ideas nationally were coming together. Clubs were less isolated and wanting to get involved.”
Bob was no doubt outspoken at times, but his drive was such that he aimed for positive outcomes. One of his fellow club members at the time, Tony Kuchel, had a serious run in with the Police that had set out to defect his legally registered Model T truck. Bob was disgusted with the way Tony had been treated and took it upon himself to meet with the Police as State Director to talk things over and work out a better system.
From that meeting and constructive discussion, both the Police and Bob agreed there needed to be some consistent written rules that both parties could reference. They listened and were prepared to help. The already established Technical Advisory Committee set out to establish the rules as to what was required to build a street rod legally. That became the TAC Building Manual. It was put together in conjunction with Government and has held street rodders to this day in high regard. That manual in an updated form was the basis for Queensland and WA building manuals and was the starting point for the current Street Rod Building Guidelines.
While Bob was active in hot rod politics, he was also busy during this period establishing Custom City, a custom paint and body shop with Tony Kuchel. He was also still actively building. Bobcat had been involved in an accident and it sat in a corner and a very tidy mild custom Customline was built and became his regular set of wheels.
Bob was quoted in a magazine as saying, “The future of hot rodding is great if we look after it.” That is as true today as it was in 1973. Back then, we were lucky enough to have an administrator that had such a vision and a drive to match it.
Bob is a worthy recipient as he guided us through those early formulative years by setting high standards. He helped clean up those early images of bad boy hot rodders and established protocols that for the most part are still in place today. While we may no longer wear a tie to meeting, there is still a strong club base and there are still productive meetings for the hobbies betterment being the main focus.
The hobby is, thanks to volunteers like Bob Moule. very heathy some half a century on.