|In this Mountain View household, the practices of old school hot rodding are alive and well.
Glen, Kathy and Nate Silva are the kind of folks who wouldn't think twice about spending a whole day beating a body panel straight or hunting down that last bit of chrome trim in a parts yard. They've got two hot rods and one custom between them, always painted flat black.
Why flat black? Because it's cheap -- Glen is the kind of guy who "used to sell cars for $50, now I can't even buy a hubcap for that much." It's also the signature of the new "rat rod" movement popular among younger, less affluent hot rodders, like son Nate.
In the early 1960s, Glen was one of many hot rodders who cruised up and down El Camino Real from Santa Clara to Mountain View before it became illegal. He was a San Jose boy at the time, and remembers Linda's Drive-In at Escuela Avenue as the place where cars would turn around, exhaust pipes rumbling and quick change axles whining.
Glen's 1932 Ford coupe and Nate's 1930 Ford Model A are throwbacks to those days. Slung low on skinny whitewall tires, Nate's car is true to the rat rod style. Its Buick "nailhead" V8 engine is a unique bird among classic V8 engines, identified by its upright, rather than angled, valve covers.
While Glen's car may look a bit more conservative, its engine is anything but. With a supercharger and dual four barrel carburetors feeding the hungry V8, family friend Joe Fernandez describes the car as "crazy -- it's got like 800 horsepower."
Kathy, a Mountain View native and accountant at St. Martin's School in Sunnyvale, will soon be cruising to work in a custom 1941 Mercury with a roof chopped low. The longtime project on her car is nearly complete -- hopefully in time for a rod and custom show at San Jose's Kelley Park on July 13. She's currently on the hunt for an important piece of chrome trim, picking through parts piles at places like All Ford in Campbell.
Not long after Kathy mentioned the Kelley Park show, Glen, a retired mechanic, headed to Morgan Hill to get some work done on her car.
"You can't keep him still, he's always on a schedule," Kathy said about Glen.
In Morgan Hill the family shares a shop with others in their car club. The small garage at the Silva home on View Street is too small to hold the "nonprofit" operation.
Glen is an original member of the Custom Shifters Car Club in San Jose, which disbanded in the late 1960s. The club re-formed a few years ago with five of the original members, but some new blood has brought its membership to 15. The club is open to anyone with a rod or custom manufactured before 1962.
Though changing times often makes it difficult, the Silvas continue to pursue "the essence of hot rodding," Fernandez said. "Taking a pile of junk and turning it into a hot rod."
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