Last year on the AMSOIL/Street Rodder Road Tour, one of the most popular legs was the Sherm’s Custom Plating Tour in California. Located in Sacramento, Sherm’s headquarters makes a perfect starting point for a tour headed anywhere in California. The folks at Sherm’s have many contacts and connections in the Golden State and always manage to get the Road Tourians into some of the greatest private car collections in the country. Gary Matranga from Sherm’s takes an active part in planning the tour and traveled with us on the entire route last year. He had a great time along with all the other participants and was excited to join us again on the road this year.

The Sherm’s Custom Plating Tour kicked off with the first drivers’ meeting of the week at 4 p.m. on Saturday at our hotel in Sacramento. With over 30 vehicles registered for the Road Tour to the California Hot Rod Reunion at Famoso Raceway near Bakersfield, California, the lobby was filled with excited participants. The itinerary for the week was thick as a number of stops and visits were planned each day during the five days that we would be spending on the road traveling to Bakersfield.

First up on the schedule was a visit to the sponsor of the tour, Sherm’s Custom Plating. At Sherm’s we were greeted by President Gary Matranga, partner Dave Dougherty, and sales and service coordinator Kelly Wiley. Co-owner Art Holman was out of town during our visit. Dave took the large group through the shop at Sherm’s, explaining the chrome plating process and describing in detail what goes into the quality chrome for which Sherm’s is known. All of the tour participants received a Sherm’s T-shirt. The tour goodie bags and participant credentials were also handed out during our visit. After some pictures in front of the building it was time to make the short drive to see Gary’s collection of special interest vehicles.

Gary has been deeply involved with all types of auto and motorcycle racing endeavors for many years. He has raced top fuel cars, funny cars, sprint cars, and is a member of the 200 MPH Club at Bonneville. His current passion is racing some very potent Ducati motorcycles at road courses on the West Coast. Besides his love of going fast, he is also an avid builder and collector of hot rods. His extensive collection of ’32 and ’40 Fords is amazing to see and all of the participants could appreciate the quality of Gary’s cars. It was a great kick-off evening on the Sherm’s Custom Plating Tour.

On Sunday morning the weather was beautiful in Sacramento. Our drivers’ meeting was at 8 a.m. and we discussed the activities that were on the schedule for the day. We had been invited by the Napa Valley Cruisers Car Club to meet them at the Marie Callender’s restaurant in Napa and to travel along to Sebastopol to visit the home and studio of artist and sculptor Michael Cooper. It was an hour drive to Napa and the Napa Valley folks were already there when we arrived. It was a good turnout of about 25 cars from their club and when we added our 25 vehicles it was a long parade for the 90-minute drive to Sebastopol. Our route took us through the beautiful wine country of the Napa Valley. With tree-covered hills and vineyards on each side of the highway it was a very picturesque scene. Many thanks to Barry Gates and the entire Napa Valley Cruisers for inviting us along for the gorgeous drive.

Upon arriving we were greeted by Michael Cooper and given a personal tour of his studio. Many readers may remember the Tubester pickup truck with its unique header system and wooden insert in the bed. Michael built that truck in 2001. His real passion and main focus are very unique works of art that combine creative woodcarvings, laminates, and metal crafting to become amazing visual statements. Each has its own story and Michael was good enough to spend time and give us some background on each piece. It was definitely sensory overload and everyone enjoyed the stop at Michael Cooper’s studio.