Hot Rod Combines Love of Cars & Wood

Anywhere you look at any Hot August Nights Show 'n Shine you'll see great cars with shiny paint jobs.

It's a flaming, candy apple treat for the eye.

But one car draws more than its share of attention with its gleaming body fashioned of wood.

Richard Harris taught high school shop for 13 years so, in retirement this San Jose grandfather wanted to put those skills to work in a hot rod.

His wife owns a bone stock 48 Plymouth woody, but forbid him to touch it.

"We discussed it," he says, "but I finally gave up and said I'll just build my own.

And so, he did, converting a 37 Chevy 4-door sedan to a unique 3 door woody, all done in 20 months time, his grandkids taking part.

The six year old boy actually came up with the design for the latch on the third door, a detail that was puzzling grandpa.

" He asked me what was wrong," Harris says. "I told him I couldn't figure out how to do the latch. I swear to God within 5 or 6 minutes he was cutting out a pattern in paper. I looked at it and realized he got it."

The grandkids helped with sanding the maple wood too, but the artistry was Harris'.

Look close and you'll see the master woodworker's craft. Old school stuff, joints held together with pegs, mortise and tenons joints. Then finished to a high gloss.

It draws the comments you won't hear about any of the other cars.

"Who doesn't love a woody," he asks.

That's true, but his car draws some unexpected fans.

"I had a woman tell me the birdseye maple on a piece of furniture she'd inherited from her grandmother that was more than a hundred years old was just as beautiful as that on my car>"

And yes, he's heard all the jokes possible about termites.

"I have a Terminix business card in my wallet at all times," he laughs.


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