Silver Streak gets a new home

1970s motorhome sold to Swallow Hill Music instructor

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The first time that April Cooley and her husband Cal stepped inside Swallow Hill Music’s iconic Silver Streak, it was like going back in time for them.

“Everything on the inside reminded us of home,” April Cooley said of the 1970’s decor. “We went right back to the eighth grade.”

Cal and April Cooley are the proud new owners of the 30-foot-long and eight-foot-wide 1976 motorhome that served Swallow Hill as a billboard of sorts, parked on the edge of the parking lot where everyone driving along Yale could see it.

“The engineer in me loves that it’s still altogether and original,” Cal Cooley said, “and the artist in me loves its funkiness.”

And funky it is. The interior’s color scheme is classic `70s — brown, bright orange and some yellow with faux wood paneling and gold fleck countertops. Furnishings include a couch that pulls out into a double-sized bed; two separate twin beds; two swivel chairs; shelving and closets; a refrigerator, freezer, stove and microwave in the kitchen; and shower, sink and toilet in the bathroom. It’s even got dishes and silverware leftover from the `70s and a crushed-velvet orange bedspread with tassels.

“The whole thing’s aluminum,” said Jim McGowan, Swallow Hill’s facilities technician, of the exterior. And “the motor sounds like being at the drag strip on a Saturday night in the 1970s.”

The Silver Streak, McGowan said, is like a drivable time capsule.

“It’s been an interesting journey with the Silver Streak,” said Jessy Clark, Swallow Hill’s chief operating officer.

The Silver Streak was donated to Swallow Hill in 2014 for the organization’s use as a mobile outreach vehicle, Clark said. It was used as such a “handful of times,” Clark said, but it was so big that most everyone was intimidated to drive it. So, it became primarily stationary at Swallow Hill, 71 E. Yale Ave., with the exception of making an occasional appearance at a farmers’ market or trade show, Clark said.

Eventually talks began about selling it, Clark said.

“It’s better for it to be in the hands of someone who will use it,” McGowan said. “And it’s an extra bonus that it’s staying in the Swallow Hill family.”

April Cooley has been teaching fiddle/violin at Swallow Hill for about five years. As soon as she saw the for-sale sign go up, she went straight to Clark and inquired about purchasing it, she said.

“We’ve always been ‘go-places’ type of people,” April Cooley said of she and her husband, and “Cal always thought it was just the coolest vehicle.”

Silver Streaks were manufactured from 1945-1997, Cal Cooley said. However, Cooley added, very few of them were the drivable motorhomes — most were tow trailer campers. McGowan added that his research on two different vintage RV forums about Silver Streaks revealed that less than 20 of the drivable motorhomes were manufactured, and for only one year in 1976. “And they never made them again,” McGowan said.

“The thing was destined for a particular owner,” McGowan said, “somebody who wanted a period piece and would love it.”

The Cooleys purchased the Silver Streak for $5,000, and the money will go toward Swallow Hill’s operations and programs, Clark said. Swallow Hill is a 40-year-old nonprofit organization that offers music instruction and puts on community concerts throughout Denver-metro.

The Silver Streak’s “first drive on the highway was a little nerve-wracking,” April Cooley said, “but it did just fine.”

It is currently undergoing a thorough mechanical, systematic and operational “go-over” in Loveland. While the Cooleys plan on investing in its operable condition, they will keep as much as possible original, they said.

And they do plan on using the Silver Streak for several long-distance trips. First up will likely be Utah, the Cooleys said, and they even joked about a possible trip to Alaska.

Cal Cooley said he hopes it brings a lot of smiles to peoples’ faces once they start taking it out and about.

“We’re really excited about it,” April Cooley added. “And we’ll be sending pictures and updates about where The Streak is going.”

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