How can someone impact the path of a build so profoundly without even touching it? Mike Silva's dad, Mike Sr., gave his son all he needed to back-burner the day-to-day stuff and jump back on "Project Justified".
It all began when Mike was just 10, snooping around Mike Sr.'s automotive upholstery shop in Fremont, California. He noticed a 1968 Camaro that was getting a brand-new vinyl top. He turned to his father and said, "That's the car I want to drive when I get older." Pops answered that someday he would be able to buy one just like it if he wanted. Fast-forward a few years and Mike was now working in that shop with dad. Even at only 14 years old, he was itching to get an old-school car for when he was able to drive. Mike Sr. was working on a 1967 Nova when he heard that the vinyl top 1968 Camaro had come up on the market. He told Mike that he would either give him the shoebox Nova, or a loan to buy the Camaro. Mike grabbed the cash and ran.
By the time Mike was 16, the loan was paid off and the Camaro was all his. He drove it through the rest of high school. He managed to give it a pretty, blue paintjob when he was in auto shop. As with any new toy, he couldn't be stopped from driving it. Several years went by and it became a weekend car until it was finally benched. After bringing his daughter home from the hospital in it, the priorities in his life changed. His parents' barn would house the Camaro for the next 10 years while he raised his daughter and son.
Sadly, Mike's dad was diagnosed with leukemia. Mike, his wife, and kids dropped everything and moved to be close to his parents and help them with their ranch. Between the ranch duties and Mike's full-time job, there was no time for the Camaro, but Mike Sr. asked about the progress every day. Mike's dad entered remission and got back to normal life, but still didn't make time for the Camaro. Months after the family thought Mike Sr. was in the clear, the leukemia came back with a vengeance. He would have less than a month with his family. Just before he died he told Mike that he should take the car out of the barn and get it done because none of us know when our time is going to be up.
Mike took that advice and immediately started planning the build. It hadn't changed since high school, but Mike's taste sure had. He wanted a car that would drop jaws without being over the top, a difficult task. He had the dreams of a $200,000 car with a dramatically different budget. That's where the name Project Justified came about. Mike's not a big-time white-collar guy; he is just a regular guy and wanted to build more than just a regular guy's car. He would scrutinize every single part and expense associated with the car. Only if it was an absolute perfect fit in both theme and cost would he let it be part of the car. Everything had to be truly justified.
From idea conception to completion Mike had help. Longtime friend Clint Petree lent his experience working with manufacturers and scored Mike a sponsorship from ARC Audio, which would inevitably land him a spot at SEMA and eventually many manufacturers on board with his project. Once the wrenches started flying, Mike's best friend Shawn Worth was there every step of the way lending a hand. When it was crunch time, Worth put in just as many hours in the car as Mike did. There is no doubt Mike would have missed SEMA without him.
The moral of this story is not having time or money is not an excuse. Anything can be achieved with the right amount of determination and heart. Mike's father gave him the push he needed, but Mike hopes others can get the push without it being brought on by something devastating.