Hacker’s favorite hobby is going under the hood

Drew Hoffmaster | The Chronicle

As the pop of a 1986 Saab convertible engine is heard in the distance, senior Chase Hacker’s prized vehicle is hard to miss as it rolls into its parking spot.

Hacker spends most of his free time working at Hacker Automotive Group, his father’s automotive repair shop. The Hacker family started the business 13 years ago because his father was tired of automotive companies reusing previous parts, giving false estimates, and taking shortcuts.

Just like the rest of his siblings, when Hacker was seven, he started by helping his father with small tasks, including holding a flashlight and tightening screws. He found these tasks interesting and started studying more of his father’s work with automobiles.

“I’m a visual learner,” Hacker said. “I’ve been watching [my dad] work, so just from being around [cars] when you’re young, you understand it and it’s like second nature to you to figure out a problem.”

Hacker Automotive Group focuses on doing engine repairs, oil changes, and any other mechanical problems while offering honest service. Hacker said he found doing these tasks fun and freeing.

“I don’t like being in the classroom for long,” Hacker said. “I like being a hand outside at the shop with my dad. I spend all my free time [at the shop], and I just find so much joy there.

The Hackers enjoy restoring old Swedish cars from the 1950s to be drivable again in their free time. Due to the family hobby, Chase drives a 1986 Saab 900 convertible and a 1950 Crosley Hotshot. Hacker enjoys the perk of getting to drive the repaired cars and impress his friends with their unique styles.

“[The Saab] is a really cool car,” Hacker said. “It’s definitely a head-turner. People definitely like the way they look and turn their heads from the sound.”

Hacker’s immense knowledge of cars has come in handy in helping his friends and family. He knows how to do metal work, allowing him to perform maintenance checks on friends’ cars to help diagnose and fix problems.

“I love being able to help my friends,” Hacker said. “They’re always asking me when they have a question and it’s just nice to have someone to talk to even if they do not know much about their car.”

Hacker has spent his entire life surrounded by cars and machines and plans to take that experience to pursue a career in engineering, after taking a gap year working for his father. He says that he does not want his skills from mechanics to be unused.

“I enjoy working on cars, but I don’t know if I would want to go into that my entire life,” Hacker said.  I always knew I wanted to do some sort of thing related to [cars]. But I don’t want it to be my career but like a hobby. I don’t want what I learned to go to waste.”

After working in the shop for many years, Hacker still loves working on cars. He said he is excited to continue working in the shop past high school.

“I find satisfaction when a car leaves the shop,” Hacker said. “I just love the way it feels just making a car run just right. Working on cars feels natural. I can not imagine not working on them.”