We hear stories about running Moonshine all the time. We’re based in the Southeast and it was a big deal back in the ’40s and ’50s. However, we rarely run across the real deal, but the car that rolled up at the shop is just that. It has tons of history and the current and previous owners were here to tell us all about it.
Larry Ashford is the current owner of the car, and he bought it in the fall of 2008 from Ralph Condra, the man who’d owned the car in the late ’40s. Ralph is 84 years old, and spent lots of time behind the wheel of this ’47 Ford Business Coupe. He’s not proud of being a moonshine runner, and he’s since changed his ways, but all of the neat tricks still remain on the old coupe. Lots of folks used the original Flathead engines in moonshine haulers, and Ralph ran an aluminum-headed Flattie in this coupe up until 1957.
He stopped by Honest Charley Speed Shop and picked up a set of Hurst engine and transmission mount adapters, in order to swap in a brand new Pontiac 347 engine, which was the next best thing to a Cadillac mill. The Pontiac engine made close to 300hp from the factory, while it would take a full race Flathead to make that kind of power in 1957. Rather than making the mounts himself, Ralph wanted the option to put the car back to stock, so he bought the bolt-in mounts and dropped in the new engine. Even though over 50 years have passed since he swapped power plants, the 347ci Pontiac still ride between the frame rails.
The suspension looks to be stock, but it’s not…Lincoln brakes ride up front, and are assisted by a Hydra Vac power unit. Additional leafs were added to the spring packs on the front and rear, and an extra set of shocks were added to the rear of the car to stiffen the suspension and keep the car stable when it has a full load. Normally if you carried a load of ‘shine in a totally stock vehicle, the back end would squat under the weight, but the stiffer springs and additional shocks kept it level at all times. Another ‘shine runner trick is the brake light cutout switch, which is still intact.
This car, with Ralph behind the wheel, made many trips across Suck Creek Mountain in the ’50s, and Larry makes it a point to take Ralph for a drive in his old car from time to time. While Ralph doesn’t brag about his ‘shine running days, he still enjoys hitting the backroads in the old coupe. Ralph says he couldn’t have picked a better guy to end up with this car, and he’s glad to be friends with him. Larry intends to restore the car someday, but said that someday will be a long time from now, as he plans to keep the survivor look for quite some time.
Larry and Ralph have become great friends, and it’s good to know this car, and it’s history, will live on in the hands of a hot rodder that truly appreciates it. The car is a big hit at local car shows, including the Moonshine Festival held each fall in Dawsonville, Georgia. We love it too, and can’t believe that it’s stayed the same all these years!